Once again, the special teams were the difference. Final Score: 3-2 Penguins
It there’s one thing the Oilers haven’t needed through this rough start, it’s the long gaps between games. I mean, you have to think they’d be better off playing games rather than wallowing on losses right? Sure, they could use that extra time to practice things they should already know, but the only way to make sure that those concepts get executed in game situations is by playing actual games. On the flip side, you’d hope that the Oilers were going to come out flying against the Penguins tonight, considering they were well rested, but considering the Penguins got torched by a touchdown in their last game, you just knew they were going to come out firing.
Oddly, both teams started the game almost tentatively. Aside from a few harmless shots for each side, the first 10 minutes of the opening period looked like both teams were trying to figure each other out. As the game moved into the second period, both sides seemed to relax a little bit and the play opened up with a pair of goals going up on each side of the board. With the game tied heading into the third period, and the margin of error between these two teams being razor thin, it felt like overtime from the time the puck dropped. When things are that tight you know it’s going to be the team that gives up the last mistake that ends up losing, and that’s exactly what happened to the Oilers.
When your special teams are useless you have you have to eliminate mistakes, and the Oilers weren’t able to do that tonight.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked really good again and had a bunch of first period chances that could have ended up in the back of the net. After the hot start, it wasn’t really surprising that Nuge was able to bury his fifth goal of the year (100th of his career) midway through the second. Call me crazy but it looks like RNH has his offensive swagger back and it’s going to be heartbreaking when Chiarelli trades him for a half-sleeve of Oreos.
- Only moments after Nuge tied the game, Leon Draisaitl had a tap-in after a ridiculous bit of puck skills by McDavid on the assist. Connor made the defenceman look stupid and Leon finished it off with one of the easier goals he’s going to score all year. That goal was every shade of beautiful.
- After being a bit quiet (points wise), Connor McDavid had some flashy moments against the Penguins that were the doses of magic that the Oilers (and fans) expect to see from their captain. His assist on Draisaitl’s goal was worth tuning in for alone and it’s almost surprising he didn’t get more than he did.
- Tonight was game number eight for Kailer Yamamoto and he was very quiet, aside from the two penalties drawn. With only one more freebie available, the pressure is on as to whether or not they’ll send him back. He was fine again but my money is on him going back to Spokane.
- As per tradition of late, Cam Talbot was great again and he played well enough to give his team a chance to win the hockey game. I can’t think of what else you could want from your starter because he’s not the one that can’t score goals. He finished the night with 27 saves and a .900 save%. You can’t put this one on him.
- The Oilers finished the night at 53% in the faceoff circle against a solid Penguins team. They’re definitely improving there. Nuge was a team-high 71%.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring on a power play deflection that beat Talbot right from the slot. There wasn’t much Talbot could do on that one aside from telling his teammates to stay out of the funkin’ box.
- The Oilers had a good chance down in the Penguins end with less than a minute to play in the second period when the Pens turned it around and scored down at the other end. That goal was a tough blow with only 22 seconds left to play in the period. I’ll also say that there wasn’t much backchecking going on either. Not ideal. Not close.
- Of course Gino Malkin scores the goal ahead goal late in the third period off of one of the worst penalty calls of the night. Of course he does.
- The Oilers took too many penalties against a very good Penguins team and I say that knowing that they themselves had more chances. They were fortunate to only allow two goals when they were down by a man (sometimes two) because, as you all know, the PK has been gross all season long.
- Once again, the power play could have put this thing away for the Oilers long before the final buzzer sounded but they fell flat on their face. Aside from the Nuge goal, the only thing the PP did effectively was kill minutes off the clock. They finished the night at 1/5 on a night when the PP could have made a huge difference.
- I feel like it’s worth repeating how the special teams lost them this hockey game.
- The bottom six may as well not exist. They’re not doing much of anything to help the hockey team right now.
- We’re 11 Wrap Ups into the season and I think I’ve complained about the refs in every single one that I’ve written. The trend continues tonight as there was, once again, very little consistency in regards to what was a penalty and what was not. That call on Nuge in the third period was dog shit. Remember when they were calling things by the book in pre-season? Yeah, that was fun.
- Kris Russell played the fewest minutes of any defender so far.
- Edmonton played well enough to win. They didn’t and this horrible movie won’t end.
|00:56||Pittsburgh||PPG – Patric Hornqvist (4) ASST: Kris Letang (8), Phil Kessel (10)||1-0|
|06:36||Edmonton||PPG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (5) ASST: Patrick Maroon (5), Connor McDavid (7)||1-1|
|07:26||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (2) ASST: Connor McDavid (8)||1-2|
|19:38||Pittsburgh||Conor Sheary (6) ASST: Sidney Crosby (7), Olli Maatta (7)||2-2|
|12:23||Pittsburgh||PPG – Evgeni Malkin (6) ASST: Phil Kessel (11), Kris Letang (9)||3-2|
Dodgers bumped the Oilers? BOLD!
— Rick Lopez ? (@rick_dbp) November 2, 2017
@OilersNation Kuhnhackl sounds like a really good potato soup.
— StephyKei (@stephylee0526) November 2, 2017
To whatever comms intern that reads this, don't let Peter trade Nuge. No matter how badly he wants to find a way to stop him @EdmontonOilers
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) November 2, 2017
Of course game 7 is a dud
— The Big Teejbowski (@TJrocks33) November 2, 2017
You're a monster! ? life.
— CW (@CJW_101) November 2, 2017
THE REAL LIFE PODCAST
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Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 11/01/2017, 10:00pm MST