The Edmonton Oilers gave coach Kris Knoblauch a present after his first NHL victory.
The Oilers presented their new coach with the game puck and then surprised him with a video of his wife from their home in Hartford, Conn., where he had been coaching the New York Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Knoblauch, who replaced the fired Jay Woodcroft on Sunday, will go after a second consecutive victory when the Oilers play host to the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday night.
“That was very nice of them to do,” Knoblauch said after a 4-1 victory Monday night against the visiting New York Islanders. “Usually I go in (the dressing room) after a win and say a few words, and I walk right out and they said, ‘No, you’re not going anywhere,’ and they presented me the puck.
“I was in the middle of the room, and they turned me around and I saw my wife on the screen. My kids weren’t there, they were already in bed, it’s a two-hour (time) difference. … They just arranged it with three minutes left in the game and made it work.”
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists Monday and Connor McDavid snapped a scoreless streak with a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who won at home for the second time this season. Goaltender Stuart Skinner made 32 saves.
“It’s obviously exciting for him. First win in the NHL, it’s been a long road for him. It is well deserved,” said McDavid, who played under Knoblauch in juniors with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. “He came in and was his calm self and didn’t give us too much. It was kind of like, ‘Guys, go out and play.'”
Knoblauch said he was pleased with his first day in charge.
“It feels amazing to get that first win, being a head coach was a highlight, just being here and obviously it gets much better when you win,” he said. “I liked how our team played, it wasn’t a perfect game, certainly we weren’t the better team in the first half of the game. I liked how we stayed patient; we stayed the course and we didn’t take any unnecessary risks.”
One person who won’t be surprised if Knoblauch has success in Edmonton is Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. Knoblauch served two seasons on Hakstol’s staff with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I’d say he’s very, very even-keeled,” Hakstol said of Knoblauch. “Level personality. Communicates well. Obviously, everybody’s got a little bit of emotion to them, and it comes out in different ways, but his general approach is very well thought out and communicative.”
Still, Hakstol expects to see the same old Oilers on Wednesday.
“How much you can instill in 48 hours?” Hakstol said. “It’s not a lot, but I’m sure he’s going to have a plan to make sure his group is playing within the tempo and the mentality that he believes in. That’s the one thing I can guarantee: He’ll be well thought out about it and will have a plan going in as to how to institute everything.”
The Oilers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory Saturday at Seattle in Woodcroft’s last game. Zach Hyman scored a natural hat trick in the first period.
The Kraken fared no better Monday against visiting Colorado, dropping a 5-1 decision.
Brandon Tanev, playing for the first time since coming away with a lower-body injury on opening night at Vegas, scored the lone goal for the Kraken.
“There were stretches of good hockey from our group, then there were times when we were not in the game and giving them too much time and space,” Tanev said. “When you give great players too much time and space, you make it look easy for them.”
–Field Level Media
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