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'We've always had faith,' McDavid says of Oilers' goaltending after 5th-straight win

Edmonton Oilers' goalie Stuart Skinner (74) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday November 15, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Edmonton Oilers' goalie Stuart Skinner (74) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday November 15, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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After a disastrous start to their season, the Edmonton Oilers have turned things around in a big way, recording a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday night.

The Oilers were 5-12-1 before their winning streak that has seen them pull to within six points of eighth-place St. Louis Blues, with two games in hand.

A huge reason for their resurgence has been the play of starting goaltender Stuart Skinner, who has allowed just nine goals in five games.

"We've always had faith in our goaltending, and to see Stu get his game to where it is now, we always expected him to be at that level and he's been an absolute rock for us back there," captain Connor McDavid said Thursday.

The players may have had faith, but fans and hockey insiders have been speculating about a new goalie in Edmonton since before Jack Campbell was sent to the minors on Nov. 8.

At the time, the Oilers were 2-8-1 and both Campbell and Skinner were ranked near the bottom of the league in many goalie stats.

McDavid said it's not just Skinner that had to be better.

"There's lots of guys, myself more than anyone, that had a bit of a tough stretch and it's good to see everyone getting themselves out of it," he said.

"I would say it's a confidence thing. Systematically, we probably haven't changed that much, little tweaks here and there. Obviously, the confidence in the room is growing and you can see it."

Despite turning in a .931 save percentage in his last five starts, Skinner still sits 57th in the league in that category. He's 41st in goal-against-average at 3.03.

But the Edmonton-born goalie said what's more important is that he's now improved his record on the year to 9-7-1.

"Stats are great, but I try not to be too concerned about it," Skinner told reporters on Monday.

"When it comes to stats, I think everyone is more concerned with the win column. That's how you get into the playoffs."

Skinner credited the players in front of him with helping him by clearing traffic and rebounds.

He said the penalty kill has also improved.

"I think it's everybody. Huge credit to the guys in front of me," he said.

"Huge props to the forwards and the defencemen, really being committed on our penalty kill, on our powerplay, and the game overall. It's been very good."

McDavid's stats have also improved recently, with 16 points in five games, rocketing him to 10th in the NHL.

The Oilers' depth scoring helped them beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday as Mattias Janmark had three assists, Warren Foegele chipped in with two points and Ryan McLeod scored his second goal of the season.

"If you're doing things right and working hard, things will go your way," head coach Kris Knoblauch said.

"Right now, I see our guys working hard and we're getting some breaks and scoring some goals. But we're doing it because, overall, we're doing a lot of good things. The finer details are being executed and that gives us the opportunity to get lucky."

Knoblauch said Skinner's resurgence "breeds confidence for the entire team."

"Skinner recognizes how much more structure there is in front of him and guys are dialled in and giving him confidence and he has been playing really well," he said.

The team has a plan, Knoblauch said, to share Skinner's workload with backup goalie Calvin Pickard as the Oilers' schedule picks up with five games in the next nine days.

The Oilers next play the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Place on Friday at 7 p.m. MT.

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