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Knoblauch steers Edmonton Oilers to NHL coaching debut win over slumping Islanders

EDMONTON — Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists as the Edmonton Oilers got a lift from their recent coaching change, emerging with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Monday.

Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist and Zach Hyman and Evander Kane also scored for the Oilers (4-9-1) who have won two in a row. It was Edmonton’s first win on home ice at Rogers Place this season.

Mathew Barzal replied for the slumping Islanders (5-6-3) who have lost five straight.

The era of new Edmonton head coach Kris Knoblauch did not start smoothly as the Oilers coughed up a puck in their own end just 40 seconds into the game, allowing Bo Horvat to send it across to Barzal for a blistering one-timer that beat Edmonton starter Stuart Skinner glove-side.

Edmonton tied the game with six minutes to play in the opening frame as Draisaitl danced around defender Sebastian Aho and took an off-balance shot that beat Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin for his sixth goal of the season.

The Oilers went up 2-1 with a power-play goal coming seven-and-a-half minutes into the third. McDavid was able to send the puck from behind the net to Hyman in the crease and he chipped home his eighth of the season and fourth in the last two games.

Edmonton got another power play goal minutes later as Draisaitl made a long stretch pass to McDavid whose shot hit Sorokin but then trickled into the net, ending an eight-game goal-scoring drought for the Oilers star.

There was no scoring in a largely uneventful second period, with the Islanders outshooting Edmonton 20-13 through 40 minutes.

The Islanders took a chance with two-and-a-half minutes to play and pulled their goalie while on a power play, but Draisaitl intercepted a pass and sent Kane in on a short-handed breakaway to put his fourth into the empty net.


Knoblauch made his NHL head coaching debut as the Oilers bench boss after Jay Woodcroft was fired on Sunday following Edmonton’s bewildering 3-9-1 start. Woodcroft leaves Edmonton with the best winning percentage of any coach in franchise history, compiling a regular season record of 79-41-13 … Ironically, Woodcroft’s head coach debut for the Oilers was also against the Islanders … Knoblauch, who coached McDavid in Junior with the Erie Otters, has two years as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers under his belt and has spent the last five seasons as the head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack … In his 13th season with the Oilers, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has now had nine different head coaches … Since 2009, the Oilers have had 11 head coaches, tying the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets for the most among the four major North American pro leagues during that span.


McDavid entered the game sitting 130th in NHL scoring with only 10 points. The Oilers captain has won the Art Ross three years in a row, including netting 153 points last season … The Islanders were without the services of Adam Pelech (lower body) … Out with injuries for the Oilers were Connor Brown (undisclosed) and Mattias Janmark (shoulder). Brown did, however, take the morning skate. Forward Dylan Holloway left the game with a lower body injury late in the second.


Both teams return to action on Wednesday. The Islanders play the second game of a four-game trip against the Canucks in Vancouver. The Oilers play host to the Seattle Kraken,

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2023.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press