The hottest team in the NHL continued their relentless assault on the North Division Thursday, scooping a 3-0 win over Vancouver Complete a two-game sweep and leaving the fatally wounded Canucks in the basement bleed

“It’s fun to win, it’s so much better than losing,” said goalkeeper Mike Smith, who scored a 32-save shutout and improved to 6-0 after an injury at training camp. “It’s been a pleasure to be part of it and see how this team gets better every day””

With their fifth straight win, Edmonton were 10 points ahead of the Canucks and, more importantly, within four points of the first-placed Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that will host three straight games starting Saturday

Edmonton fans and outside observers have long waited for the Oilers to become a force in the League – a juggernaut geared for every style of play – and whether the past few weeks are any signs that the wait may be over go

“We have a lot of veterans who have been through a lot The younger ones really got the team game and it really shows, “said Smith.” Everyone feels like we are a really good ice hockey team and they believe in the dressing room that we can beat any team on a given night””

That’s probably because they beat a team on a particular night, the highest-scoring club in the league can trade goals with anyone, they can complete them with anyone, they can measure special teams against anyone (the power play is 36) 2 percent in the 13 games, while the PK killed 30 of the last 34 penalties) and there are a couple of Superstars that few of their opponents have an answer to

And on a night when everything seemed a little different, the Oilers stayed cool and justified a decision with a goal from Alex Chiasson in the second half, a setback from Jesse Puljujarvi 12:35 in the third half and an empty guy from Connor McDavid The power game went two on five and the PK went four on four A team that has always found a way to lose is now collecting points with its will to win

“It’s experience and confidence and learning how to win tight games,” Smith said. “It’s about having the coaching staff believe what they preach and that everyone comes on the same page about things, too do to win games”

“I think we really took a step in the right direction. It’s different in the locker room. This team is gaining in confidence every day we’re together”

And why shouldn’t it? The Oilers will be the first to tell you that there is still a very long way to go – starting with what will certainly be a rigorous three-game test against the Leafs – but how far they have come cannot be ignored

So what exactly happens? And why now, after 10 long years in the desert?

“I like the progress our team is making and Smitty came in and gave us a boost,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “I’m going to look at what Ken (Holland) did over the summer and add something to us Adding depth Our top players are very motivated and it seeps through the whole group. It’s a good team effort. I like the attitude of our guys at the moment; Everyone is trying to do the right things to win ”

The return of Smith has played a huge role in this story, he’s 6-0 with two failures to show the fighting spirit that Tippett and Holland want everyone to see

“I just want to play well for this group,” he said. “I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things this year and we’re in a good place right now I don’t want that to go away because of the goalkeeping game”It’s a mission that I’m on and the way we play makes it a lot easier for the goalkeeper too”

Next: the Maple Leafs and a chance to fill the void in first place in the north

“You look at the schedule and you know you’re there,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “It’s our first time that we’ve played three teams in a row We need to prepare for that. We know they are in front of us That will give us a shot at them ”

LATE HITS – Defender Ethan Bear returned to the line-up after 11 missed games with a concussion from a freak bench injury

“Lots of free time, longer than I wanted but glad to be back,” he said, adding that he never saw the puck that hit him. “I took it off the side of the head It was a pretty hard shot

“Concussions are weird things. Symptoms weren’t that bad, but you want to be on the safe side in situations like this. The team gave me all the time I needed and I really appreciated that I think we got it all.” well done ”

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World News – CA – Die-hard Edmonton Oilers continue their assault on the North Division