(SportsNetwork.com) - The Edmonton Oilers will try again to win their first game of the season when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Monday's battle at Rexall Place.
The Oilers are 0-4-1, matching the team's worst ever start to a season. The 1992-93 club set a club record with four losses and a tie to begin the season, and Edmonton can surpass that dubious mark if it loses again tonight.
It's a disheartening start for an Oilers team that has missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons since making a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. If Edmonton's season-opening funk gets much worse it could cost head coach Dallas Eakins his job despite the fact Eakins was hired in the summer of 2013 and only is in the second season of a four-year deal.
Edmonton is allowing 4.80 goals per game so far this season, but the club did put forth a better defensive effort in its latest setback, losing 2-0 on Friday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. The Oilers had surrendered five goals or more in each game before the close setback versus the Canucks.
Ben Scrivens allowed just one goal on 29 shots in the setback, but his team was shut out for the first time this season.
"We have to find a way to come out on top," Scrivens said. "Despite us playing better, we have to push through and find a way."
Monday's contest is the second tilt of a seven-game homestand for the Oilers, who won't play their next road game until visiting Philadelphia on Nov. 4. Edmonton was just 16-22-3 as the visiting team in 2013-14.
Edmonton has fared well against the Lightning in recent years, winning its last three home games in this series and taking four of the past six encounters overall. Tampa's last win at Rexall Place came in a 3-1 victory on March 7, 2007, when Lightning star Steven Stamkos was still in his first season of junior hockey.
Stamkos fueled a Tampa Bay victory in the club's most recent outing, posting two goals and an assist in Saturday's 4-2 win at Vancouver. The Canucks entered the game with a 3-0 record before the Bolts handed them their first loss of the season.
The score was tied at 2-2 in the second period before Ryan Callahan scored the go-ahead goal with 3:12 remaining in the middle stanza. Alex Killorn also lit the lamp early in the third period to account for the final margin.
"This was huge," said Stamkos, who has five goals and seven points this season. "In the third period, we kind of just shut it down and that's learning from the mistakes we've made in other games."
Ondrej Palat added two helpers for Tampa Bay, which saw Ben Bishop make 30 saves.
Although the victory pushed the Lightning's record to 3-1-1 this season, the club received bad news Saturday when top defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the second period and did not return. Hedman, who is tied with Stamkos for the team lead in points with seven, suffered a hand injury and has returned to Tampa for further evaluation.
According to Bolts head coach Jon Cooper, the Swedish blueliner is "probably done" for the rest of Tampa's current road trip, which has four games left, including tonight's tilt in Edmonton. Hedman reportedly could miss 4-to-6 weeks of action with the injury.
"We're going to test our depth," said Cooper. "It just puts a little more pressure on the (defensive) core."
With Hedman sidelined the Bolts recalled defenseman Luke Witkowski from the club's AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Tampa also called up forward Jonathan Drouin and the highly-touted rookie could make his NHL debut tonight. Drouin, the third overall pick of the 2013 draft, had missed training camp with a fractured right thumb.
Tampa will continue their trek tomorrow night in Calgary before completing the swing with weekend dates in Winnipeg and Minnesota.
Bishop expects to start tonight and is 2-0 with a 1.45 goals against average in three career games against the Oilers. Scrivens is 2-1-0 with a 3.08 GAA in four lifetime appearances versus Tampa.