Tough loss in OT but the Oilers finish the weekend with three of four points. Final Score: 2-1 Wild in OT
Playing games in the NHL on back-to-back nights is tough enough, and that’s before you even consider the snoozefest that Minnesota Wild games can be. After coming off a big win against a physical Anaheim Ducks team, I was a bit concerned about how much gas the boys would have left in the tank, and how they would battle against the sweet lullaby that must be the Minnesota Wild uniform. Granted, Minnesota doesn’t sit back and wait for the play to come to them under Bruce Boudreau as much as they used to, but their style was still a sharp contrast from the crash and bang style of the Ducks. The win the Oilers put on up on the board last night was fought over hard travelled miles and Edmonton needed to find some energy if they wanted to win tonight. The Wild are no slouch, but, at the same time, they are another Western Conference team that the Oilers should have a chance at beating.
Coming into the game, the Minnesota Wild were riding a three-game losing streak and the Oilers have a history of being slump busters. Not exactly a flattering reputation, but it’s one they’re working to shake. Fortunately, Edmonton started the first period like they had every intention of extending their opponent’s losing streak and the quick start was rewarded with an early lead. The Oilers were hard on the puck, made crisp passes out of their own zone, and looked like they had more jump than a team that had played less than 24 hours ago. As the game progressed you could see the Oilers tiring a bit and they eventually coughed up the lead as a result of an avoidable mistake in the defensive zone. To Edmonton’s credit, they battled hard against a team with fresh legs and were resilient enough to keep the game tied heading into the third period. As the clock wound down, the Oilers, understandably, looked liked a tired team and allowed Minnesota to get the majority of the zone time and shots. But they did not break under the pressure. The Oilers found a way to hang on and get themselves into overtime, and at least a point, for the second night in a row.
At the end of the day, the team that made the fewest number of mistakes won the hockey game. I know that’s a lame way to wrap things up, but, frankly, it’s true and you know it. The Oilers were a tired team that made a few mistakes that they may not have otherwise, and they lost to a rested Minnesota squad. Sometimes there’s no harm in there. With teams in the Western Conference being as close as they are right now, it shouldn’t really be that surprising to have a game between the Oilers and Wild that could have been decided by a coin toss. That said, you have to give the Oilers props for sticking with their game plan and getting a point despite the lack of turnaround time between games. Minnesota came into Edmonton as a rested team, but the home side made them earn their win tonight. As much as I’d like to complain about the loss I give the Oilers credit for battling hard and walking away from the weekend with three of four points. As much as it would have been nice to get both points, we can’t complain about going home with the loser ribbon – it’s better than nothing.
Wrapping on back-to-back nights? Stay hydrated, Nation.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Even though he didn’t get a point tonight, Connor McDavid always seemed to have the puck on his stick. Unfortunately, he missed some time in the second period when the concussion spotters called him off the ice, but the captain returned in the third period. Connor was a chance machine again, but I would like him to shoot the puck more often.
- Pat Maroon scored the first goal of the game (his eighth) after his line did some nice work on the cycle down low in the Wild’s zone. Mark Fayne sent a shot through from the point and Maroon took care of the loose puck, cashing in on a rebound and putting the puck home. Maroon’s current career high is the 12 goals he scored last year and he’s looking like he wants to break that career high this season.
- Zack Kassian hasn’t scored a goal in a while but he was great early on in the game and played a big part in the cycle that caused Patrick Maroon’s goal.
- Props to Chiarelli/McDavid/God/lack of depth on the right side/whatever it was that inspired Matt Benning to sign with the Oilers because he’s been found money so far this year. As the season goes on, Matt Benning gets better and looks more confident on the ice. Benning had another calm night on the back end, playing 19:30 and finished with an even +/- rating.
- Jonas Gustavsson can be an adventure to watch in net, but I have to give him credit for doing his thing tonight. He played very well and got the Oilers into overtime, finishing the night with 31 saves and a .939 save%.
- Mark Fayne had another quiet, solid game tonight. He’s played well in the two games since coming off the IR/being waived/Darryl going down. Fayne got an assist tonight and played 11:22 of steady hockey.
- The penalty kill was rock solid, killing off both attempts they faced. In those two PP chances, the PK didn’t even allow a shot on net which is even more impressive. After allowing a goal last night the penalty kill was back to perfection tonight.
- Matt Benning took a big (questionable) hit in the first period by Kurtis Gabriel and Zack Kassian didn’t like it one bit. On their next shift, Kassian fed Gabriel a left-crossing-fistwich that sent him to the ice and a message to the Wild that those hits won’t fly anymore. Check out the fight on Kassian’s fight page at HockeyFights.com.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jared Spurgeon and Connor McDavid were battling near the net and Connor fell and smashed his chin on the ice. The concussion police called down to pull Connor off the ice and Edmonton was forced to be McDavid-less for the rest of the second period. I understand why they have people pull guys out, but it’s a tough loss in a tie game.
- Koivu was left wide open on the OT winner. He was able to shake his man and had all sorts of time to walk in alone in front of Gustavsson.
- The Oilers’ power play didn’t have the same magic tonight as it did in their last two games. A PP goal or two would have done a world of good, but they finished the night 0/3.
- I don’t want to pick on Jonas Gustavsson but that dude can be an adventure when he’s in net. There were times when he was not even facing the direction of the puck carrier and it stressed me out. The guy is going to give me a heart attack before all is said and done, just watch.
- Coming into tonight’s game, the Minnesota Wild had only allowed 50 goals and you knew that that could mean bad news for the Oilers and their on again, off again offense.
- Kris Russell wears the green jacket tonight for having the lowest +/- on the team. Russell finished at -2 in 22:46 of ice time. The NHL site lists him with four blocks but I could have sworn there were more than that.
- I know it’s a dead horse that has been beaten several times over, but how wild (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) is it that Dubnyk went on to become a starter after that weird ride he went on after being traded to Nashville for Matt Hendricks? It seems fitting to bring up as there are now rumours about Matt Hendricks‘ name being out there in the trade winds.
- Oilers went 39% in the faceoff circle. Not nearly good enough as a team.
- Oilers outshot 33-29. Close, though.
- I wonder how long Jesse Puljujarvi will sit for. You’d have to think the Oilers will get him into a game sooner or later.
|02:56||Edmonton||Patrick Maroon (8) ASST: Mark Fayne (2), Zack Kassian (4)||0-1|
|19:05||Minnesota||Charlie Coyle (9) ASST: Nino Niederreiter (8), Eric Staal (12)||1-1|
|03:11||Minnesota||Mikko Koivu (6) ASST: Charlie Coyle (8), Matt Dumba (6)||2-1|
BEST OF THE TWEETS
@OilersNation Kris Russell was totally invisible.
— Ryan Byks (@IAmByks) December 5, 2016
I’d like to see 1997 Marchant and 2016 Connor in a race. That’d be neat.
— The Towel Boy (@TheTowelBoy) December 5, 2016
— David S. Pumpkins (@Baresnake) December 5, 2016
@OilersNation I think that only works at Rexall.
— Wolfram (@CityOfChamps14) December 5, 2016
WERE NOT SOFT WERE NOT SOFT WERE NOT SOFT WERE NOT SOFT
— Wanye (@WanyeGretz) December 5, 2016
— Josh Waters (@Josh_Waters97) December 5, 2016
That is 15 minutes of my life without Connor McDavid I will never get back @OilersNation
— paul ermantrout (@paulermantrout) December 5, 2016
@OilersNation You may as well just finish it. It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
— Mr Bacon (@realninjaeskimo) December 5, 2016
— Blood And Oil (@BloodAndOil_YEG) December 5, 2016
A GOOD OL’ HOCKEY GAME
- When: Friday, December 9th with doors opening at 2pm (the game starts at 6pm).
- Where: West Edmonton Mall at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace
- Who: Edmonton takes on Minnesota
- Why: Because we love to party
- What else: We’re going to have prize giveaways all night long
- How much to get in: FREE!
Huge thank you to everyone at West Edmonton Mall, The Brick, Vimy Hockey, Donnan, 1st RND, TSN 1260, Eddie Bauer, The Bear and everyone else that worked so hard to help us get this event off the ground. Your hard work is appreciated, and I can’t wait for December 9th to get here. It’s going to be a fantastic night.