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Pickard, Oilers extend winning streak to seven games with 4-1 victory over Devils

New Jersey Devils goalie Akira Schmid (40) and John Marino (6) react as Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97), Evander Kane (91) and Zach Hyman (18) celebrate a goal during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Sunday December 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson New Jersey Devils goalie Akira Schmid (40) and John Marino (6) react as Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97), Evander Kane (91) and Zach Hyman (18) celebrate a goal during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Sunday December 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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EDMONTON -

It has been a long time since Calvin Pickard picked up an NHL victory, but it came at the perfect time for the Edmonton Oilers.

Pickard made 26 saves on Sunday for his first win in almost two years as the Oilers earned their seventh straight win with a 4-1 decision over the New Jersey Devils.

Pickard, who the Oilers signed to a two-year, two-way contract in July 2022, last won a game with the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 28, 2022.

“You can’t put too much pressure on yourself when you don’t play very often, but I felt good in practice and I wanted to keep it going,” Pickard said. “I thought we played a great game all the way through, very defensive, really good special teams and deserved the win.”

The 31-year-old New Brunswick native started the season in Bakersfield of the AHL, but was called up to replace Jack Campbell on the big club when he had a tough start to the year.

“You’re obviously looking for that opportunity (to play in the NHL),” Pickard said. “It hasn’t happened much in the last year-and-a-half, but you can’t put too much pressure on yourself when the starts are few and far between. But I thought the last couple of weeks since I’ve played last we’ve had some really good practice time and I feel good about my game. This game is going to reinforce that confidence."

Oilers forward Connor Brown said he was thrilled to see Pickard succeed.

“It is exciting. It is one of those things where everyone just feels so happy for the guy,” Brown said. “He stood on his head, especially down the stretch in that game. I thought he did a great job. You are nothing but happy for him. It’s always fun.”

Derek Ryan, Evan Bouchard, Connor McDavid and Evander Kane, with an empty-net goal, scored for Edmonton (12-12-1). Kane and McDavid each added an assist.

Bouchard and McDavid extended their point streaks to 11 and nine games, respectively.

Jesper Bratt scored for New Jersey (14-11-1), which had its three-game winning streak halted.

“I think the schedule got us a little bit, we didn’t have quite the energy,” said Devils coach Lindy Ruff, whose team was playing it third game in four days.

“I think we missed the net a few times, we didn’t funnel pucks when we had opportunities. I think some of our execution, even our power play (was off). I think one of the biggest differences in the game was that our power play really could have helped us out.”

Akira Schmid stopped 26 of 29 shots.

Edmonton looked to have struck first on its initial shot just under five minutes into the contest. Brown seemed to snap his 36-game goalless streak by banking a shot off Schmid and into the net.

However, a video review determined that Kane had interfered with Schmid on the play.

Ryan opened the scoring with 1:24 left in the first period. Sam Gagner sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Ryan and he snuck one past Schmid for his third of the season.

Edmonton continued to press and hit three posts by the midway point of the second period but couldn’t add to its lead.

That changed on the power play with 5:40 to play in the middle frame as Bouchard blew a cannon of a shot from the point past Schmid for his eighth of the season.

Oilers forward Zach Hyman had a chance to extend that lead shortly after but was stoned by Schmid on a breakaway attempt.

McDavid made it 3-0 just 4:23 into the third period. Hyman tied up Schmid behind the net and Kane was able to pop the puck loose to McDavid for the wide-open net goal, his 10th of the year.

Bratt ended Pickard’s shutout bid just 30 seconds later as Nico Hischier made a perfect feed across to allow Bratt to redirect home his 12th.

Pickard made some solid saves with Schmid pulled and three minutes of play remaining, allowing Edmonton to go the other way and McDavid set up Kane for an empty-netter, also his 12th.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2023.

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