Wild 4 Oilers 3
EDMONTON — Anton Lander determined to make the Edmonton Oilers sweat when they decide on their fourth centre.
The Swedish rookie was named the game’s first star after getting a goal and an assist in his Oilers debut as Edmonton lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Wild to start the pre-season schedule for both teams.
Jared Spurgeon scored a pair of goals, including the power-play winner with 1:46 remaining in the third period with Taylor Hall in the penalty box for high-sticking Justin Falk while swinging at a loose puck. Jarod Palmer and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored in the win for the Wild.
But it was Lander who turned the most heads as he tries to join former Timra Swedish Elite League teammate Magnus Paajarvi on the Oilers this year.
Lander is in a dogfight with last year’s first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gilbert Brule for the fourth centre position on the team with Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger already written down in ink.
He knows he has to make the most out of every opportunity he gets in the pre-season. He scored three goals in two games as part of the Young Stars rookie tournament in B.C. last week.
“There was a big difference in the level of play tonight over Penticton,” said Lander, a 40th overall selection in 2009. “Every day you could get cut so you have to take it day to day and give it your all out there.
“You can’t let yourself think about how tight it is to get a spot in Edmonton, though. I have to go out there and play my game. I hope I made a good impression tonight.”
Paajarvi, who also had a goal and an assist in the game for Edmonton playing on the same line, has no doubt that Lander will make a big impact on the Oilers — if not now, then soon.
“He has the qualities you need to crack the lineup. When, is all up to him,” he said. “He has the motivation, the talent and the will to do it. If it is next year, or this year, it is all up to him.”
Antti Tyrvainen scored the other goal for the Oilers
Oilers 4 Blackhawks 2
SASKATOON — Josh Green scored a pair of goals as an Edmonton Oilers split-squad team defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in NHL pre-season action Tuesday.
Ryan Smyth had a goal and an assist for Edmonton, while Jordan Eberle also scored. First-overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added an assist.
Rostislav Olesz and Jamal Mayers replied for Chicago.