EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers took a gamble on goalie Mikko Koskinen and it's paying off.
Koskinen made 31 saves to improve to 8-2-1 in net and Ryan Spooner scored the winner six minutes into the third period as the Edmonton Oilers earned a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Koskinen 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 goals-against average of just 2.15 in 12 appearances.
"He has been great, really solid for us for us for a long time," said Connor McDavid. "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."
Ty Rattie forced a turnover behind the Vegas net and the puck popped in front to Spooner, who scored 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."
McDavid also scored for the Oilers (13-11-2), who extended their winning streak to three games. They are now 4-1-1 under new head coach Ken Hitchcock.
William Karlsson responded for the Golden Knights (14-13-1), who saw a season-high five-game winning streak halted.
"We're not looking for moral victories, we dug a hole for ourselves earlier this year, so we have to keep winning games," said Vegas winger Max Pacioretty. "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."
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in the loss.
"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 it was Edmonton that struck first when McDavid turned on the jets for a partial breakaway and undressed Fleury for his 14th goal of the season just over six minutes into the first.
The Golden Knights tied it up 12 minutes into the second period when Karlsson picked up a rebound in front and tucked it past Koskinen for his fourth goal in his last four games.
Notes: The Oilers are in Dallas to face the Stars on Monday, while the Golden Knights return home to take on Washington on Tuesday… 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 by the Oilers from Carolina on Friday, forward Valentin Zykov was not in the lineup for Edmonton for Saturday’s game.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press