After a terrible loss in St. Louis, the Oilers bounced back with a commanding win in Detroit to end their losing streak. Six different players scored goals and the blueline did an excellent job making life easy for a struggling Cam Talbot.
The Oilers tied the game a minute after the Red Wings took a 1-0 lead in the first period which was key to shifting the momentum in Edmonton’s favour. Connor McDavid got the puck to Darnell Nurse at the point who wristed one past a screened Jimmy Howard. This featured a good job by Nurse to just make a simple play and the forwards for effectively screening Howard. Simple plays are something we haven’t seen enough of this season.
The Oilers are winning!!! pic.twitter.com/9qDzPQW8rf— OilersNation.com (@OilersNation) November 23, 2017
The Oilers grabbed the lead a few minutes later off of a beautiful play from Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon. Draisaitl slows up after entering the zone and then threads the needle through the middle of the ice, hitting Maroon perfectly in stride, giving him an open lane to drive the net and slide the puck under Howard’s legs.
Detroit tied the game before the end of the first, but mid-way through the second the Oilers pulled ahead again. Yohann Auvitu clapped a bomb from the point that Scott Wilson got down and blocked, then Ryan Strome grabbed the puck and fed JJ Khaira in the slot.
The Oilers began to run away with it in the second period. Mike Cammalleri makes a very good, veteran play here, taking a low clapper on net that Howard kicked out right to Mark Letestu, who was crashing the net. Like I mentioned with the Nurse goal earlier, this is one of those simple plays that the Oilers haven’t done enough this season. Getting pucks on net and driving for a rebound is something that they excelled at last season.
Here are the fifth and sixth goals because they’re nice and fun to watch. The first one features an excellent rush and pass by Connor McDavid to Drake Caggiula, who’s waiting in the slot. The second is an excellent pass from Ryan Strome who finds Jesse Puljujarvi waiting in a perfect spot for a one-timer.
The even strength shot attempts were split right down the middle at 43 to 43 suggesting that this was a tightly contested game, but the heat map above tells the real story. The Oilers dominated the Red Wings in terms of high danger chances eight to three. That was driven largely by a dominant second period in which Edmonton outshot Detroit 12 to two at even strength and had four high danger chances while the Red Wings had zero. The Oilers defence did an excellent job smothering the Red Wings offence, pushing virtually all of their shots to the outside.
- Cam Talbot allowed a couple of goals. One of them was pretty ugly and the other was on the power play and I wouldn’t blame him for it. Overall, he gave the Oilers a chance to win, which the team badly needs. That said, the defence made life very easy for him last night. The Oilers allowed just three high danger chances all game at even strength and largely kept the puck to the outside. All three high danger chances came with Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse on the ice, but to be fair to them, they played a boatload on minutes almost entirely against Detroit’s top line.
- Sticking with the blueline, Yohann Auvitu’s play is certainly worth talking about. Him and Matt Benning really excelled as a pairing last night. Both players move the puck and skate very well. Auvitu is extremely effective at joining the rush with the forwards and helping drive the puck towards the net. The pairing led the Oilers with 20 shot attempts for an only 11 against. The Benning and Klefbom pair of the past few games has struggled mightily, I would continue using Benning with Auvitu together in a somewhat sheltered offensive role until Andrej Sekera returns.
- There was a lot more energy and hustle from the forwards tonight, which isn’t something we’ve been able to say after a good chunk of games this season. The effort in St. Louis was terrible, but the team did a good job of making up for it on the second half of a back-to-back, which is admirable. The bottom six chipped in with offence, the top line looked confident, and the team was making smart, simple plays rather than trying to force everything.
- I think last night was Ryan Strome’s best game of the season. Him, Cammalleri, and Puljujarvi have something going, it seems. Strome has been underwhelming this year but he seems to be gaining confidence in the offensive zone. He made a couple nice passes that set up goals for Puljujarvi and JJ Khaira by being patient and letting play develop around him. Again, it goes with the theme of making simple plays. Players are driving towards the net and moving around the zone to get open, and when you do that, good things happen.
- While that was a great win, I’m not going to get excited until I see the Oilers play well over the span of a few games. With Buffalo, Boston, and Arizona, on the horizon, the Oilers have a great chance to string some wins together. If they can play like they did last night in all three of those games, then it’s time to get a little excited.