EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers took a gamble on goalie Mikko Koskinen and it’s paying off.
Koskinen stopped 31 shots and Ryan Spooner scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, lifting the Oilers to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Koskinen, now 8-2-1 on the season, was a bit of a question mark coming into the season as a 30-year-old free-agent signing who had only played four games for the New York Islanders in 2010-2011 before moving on to the KHL. But he is now 5-0-0 in home games for the Oilers and has a 2.15 goals-against average in 12 appearances.
“He has been great, really solid for us for us for a long time,” said Connor McDavid, who also scored for Edmonton. “And now we are starting to find ways to get wins for him.
“We are winning games. It’s not always pretty, but we are getting it done and that is all that matters.”
On the go-ahead goal, Ty Rattie forced a turnover behind the Vegas net and the puck popped in front to Spooner, who put it in at 5:50 of the final period. It was his first goal in eight games since coming to Edmonton in a trade with the New York Rangers.
“It feels great. I just want to go out there and help out,” Spooner said. “It has been kind of a rough start for me here and it’s been getting into my head a little bit. I just have to go out there and play and help out, that’s the most important thing.”
The Oilers won their third straight and improved to 4-1-1 under new coach Ken Hitchcock. Mikko Koskinen stopped 31 shots.
William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights, who snapped a season-high five-game winning streak.
“We’re not looking for moral victories, we dug a hole for ourselves earlier this year, so we have to keep winning games,” Vegas forward Max Pacioretty said. “If we play like that we’ll win some more, but there are areas to clean up and I think we have to address that.”
Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 32 saves.
“It was a close game,” he said. “There were a couple of breaks here and there on their part for their goals, but other than that, I thought it was a pretty solid game.”
Vegas was all over Edmonton with an 8-2 edge in shots early, but the Oilers struck first when McDavid sped on a partial breakaway and beat Fleury for his 14th of the season at 6:11 of the first.
The Golden Knights tied it with 7:43 left in the second as Karlsson picked up a rebound in front and tucked it past Koskinen for his fourth goal in his last four games.
NOTES: It was the second of four meetings this season between the two teams, with the Knights taking the first contest 6-3 in Edmonton on Nov. 18. … Claimed on waivers from Carolina on Friday, forward Valentin Zykov was not in the lineup for Edmonton.
Golden Knights: Host Washington in a rematch of June’s Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night.
Oilers: At Dallas on Monday night.
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