Kailer Yamamoto turns slow start into 20-goal season for Edmonton Oilers

Kailer Yamamoto hit a milestone in the Edmonton Oilers’ 5-4 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night.

The 23-year-old forward scored his 20th goal of the season to hit that plateau for the first time. Even better, he had some special people in attendance at Rogers Place.

“My parents came in earlier with a couple of family friends, so they were at the game,” Yamamoto said.

Read more: Edmonton Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto inspired by teammate Derek Ryan

Yamamoto’s father built him a shooting ramp last summer at their home in Spokane, Wash. Throughout the season, Yamamoto was reminded to not let that work go to waste.

“Ever since Game 1, my dad’s been absolutely ripping me apart to shoot the puck a little bit more,” the Oilers winger chuckled.

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San Jose Sharks’ goalie James Reimer (47) is scored on by Edmonton Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto (56) during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Thursday, April 28, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Yamamoto has seen his production ramp up since the beginning of March. In the first 59 games of the season, he had 10 goals and 19 points. In the 28 games since then, he’s had 10 goals and 21 points.

“I feel like I’m finding my game a lot more that last 30 games here. Things are starting to go in, so I’m feeling a lot more confident,” Yamamoto explained.

“You’re in the top six for a reason. You should be scoring.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers rally for OT win over Sharks

Even when he’s not scoring, Yamamoto tries to make an impact by being a dogged forechecker and creating second chances for his teammates.

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“I think that tenaciousness is contagious amongst other people,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He does a lot of work for other people, and because he does, he is a popular request as a linemate.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve really introduced him to more penalty killing time. He’s a big factor why the penalty kill is headed in the right direction.”

Click to play video: '19-year-old Kailer Yamamoto’s first Oilers game' 19-year-old Kailer Yamamoto’s first Oilers game

19-year-old Kailer Yamamoto’s first Oilers game – Oct 4, 2017

The Oilers close out the regular season Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED beginning with The Faceoff Show at 5:30 p.m. The actual game starts at 7 p.m.

Neither Connor McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl will play. The Oilers’ playoff series against Los Angeles is expected to start on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton hockey fans look forward to Oilers’ appearance in NHL playoffs' Edmonton hockey fans look forward to Oilers’ appearance in NHL playoffs

Edmonton hockey fans look forward to Oilers’ appearance in NHL playoffs

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