That, my friends, is a huge regulation win. Final Score: 2-1 Oilers
When the Golden Knights were in town a couple of weeks ago, they were actually struggling at the time and looking like they weren’t going to be able to get anywhere near last season’s success. Fast forward to tonight’s rematch, and Vegas was rolling into town on a five-game win streak carrying with them a dominating record against the Pacific Division. Yeah, our boys have been playing better over these last couple of weeks, defensively they’ve been a lot stronger than we’ve seen in a while, but they’re not scoring a whole lot right now and that had me feeling nervous since the Golden Knights seem to be getting goals from everywhere. And with the way the Oilers started this game, I was having war flashbacks from last time. Had it not been for Koskinen’s brilliance then the boys would have found themselves in an early hole and who knows how this thing would have ended.
In their first meeting of the season, the Oilers’ downfall was that they allowed a warehouse worth of chances from high-risk areas and couldn’t get the saves needed to bail them out. That’s a bad combination for a team that needs to grind for every goal they get. While they had some of the same issues again tonight, especially in the first few minutes of the opening frame, the obvious difference was that Mikko Koskinen was there to throw up the wall and save his teammates when they needed him. Once again, they found a way to bend without breaking. As we dive deeper into the Hitchcock era, we’re seeing the Oilers start to look much more comfortable in these close games and rather than coughing up a game-tying mistake as we’ve often seen, they’re instead finding ways to lock things down and close games. Heading into the third period with the game tied, the Oilers had an opportunity to extend their winning streak and get themselves a step closer to a team they’re chasing in the standings, and they did exactly that.
In every way, this was a huge regulation win that the Oilers absolutely had to have. I know it’s still relatively early in the season, but you can’t drop the first two games against of the year against a divisional rival and you have to give the boys props for not letting that happen. Big win. Big two points.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Don’t you love when Connor does Connor things? I know I say it on a nightly basis, but the guy is absolutely wonderful to watch and the goal he scored to open the scoring was poetry on ice. He sailed past the defender with ease, gained some space for himself, and finished by absolutely roofing the puck past Fleury for his 14th of the year. Enjoy that one on Sportscentre later.
- How about Ryan Spooner having his first goal with the Oilers end up as the game winner? With the game tied at one apiece early in the third period, the Oilers were hunting for the next goal and it was Ryan Spooner that gave it to them. Cuddles got lost in traffic and found himself alone in the slot and ready to smash home the perfect centring pass from Jujhar Khaira.
- Ken Hitchcock said he’s going to ride the hot hand in net and that’s exactly what he’s doing as Mikko Koskinen got his fifth start in six games under the new coach. Koskinen has been great for the Oilers over this last month or so and he locked things down again for his team again tonight, especially early in the game when Vegas was dominant. From start to finish, Koskinen made the all kinds of fantastic saves that his team needed to stay in the mix for a win and that’s exactly what you want from him. To put it simply, he was great. Koskinen finished the night with 31 saves and a .969 save%.
- Another strong night for Oscar Klefbom as he played a team-high 24:38 and extended his point streak to three games. Klefbom has really poured it on over the last little while and it couldn’t come at a better time.
- He may not have gotten any points tonight but I still think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deserves a mention for his excellent two-way play. The guy is turning into a penalty killing wizard and the way he was stripping Golden Knights of the puck was like running through a crash course in thievery.
- Speaking of the penalty kill, the Oilers were perfect again tonight, killing off all three PK chances they faced. The Oilers couldn’t get anything done on their own powerplay, but at least they didn’t let Vegas find a way to score with their chances.
- I really liked Ty Rattie’s game tonight. He was all over the puck, got some really good offensive chances, drew a penalty, and, in my opinion, did enough to get himself back into the lineup on Monday. He only played 9:38 but I thought he was noticeable when he was out there.
- Doing #BoozeNotBeets wincasts are so much better at this time of night than having to eat a can of beets. Better in every way. Join in the celebration over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- The Oilers had a horrible first five minutes to this hockey game and had it not been for Mikko Koskinen then they would have been down by a pair of goals.
- William Karlsson had the puck in the slot and scored because of a lucky bounce off of Klefbom’s leg. At that point, the Golden Knights had the Oilers on their heels a little bit and it wasn’t overly surprising to see them get a greasy goal to tie the game up.
- Is Leon Draisaitl okay? I’m not saying that he’s playing poorly or anything, but he doesn’t seem like himself over the past couple of games and I really didn’t like the cross-checking penalty he took in the third period. He seems frustrated or something.
- It would have been really nice if the Oilers’ powerplay had been able to get something done tonight and close this game out long before the final buzzer. In three chances with the man advantage, they weren’t able to get much of anything done outside of a few shots from the outside. It didn’t cost them in the end, but it would have been great to get that insurance.
- According to the NHL site, the Oilers had 26 giveaways to Vegas’ 14 giveaways. Honestly, I think they’re being a little bit generous because the Oilers were giveaways machines early in this hockey game.
- For the number of minutes the third line is getting, the team really needs them to chip in with some offence. I know they’re banging and crashing and that’s all good stuff, but they need to find a way to score and soon. This isn’t me complaining because I really like what that trio is bringing, but they can’t be a black hole in the offensive zone either.
|06:11||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (14) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (16), Oscar Klefbom (12)||0-1|
|12:17||Vegas||William Karlsson (9)||1-1|
|05:50||Edmonton||Ryan Spooner (2) ASST: Jujhar Khaira (6)||1-2|
— fraser burns (@NonfatYumrocket) December 2, 2018
Knifey Spooner with some actual hockey so far tonight. I've heard his name twice which is two more times than I've heard it since the trade.
— Seravalli, The S Stands For Hope (@ThomsonCam) December 2, 2018
He is working off all of the bags
— Ryan (@IAmByks) December 2, 2018
Nice of Todd to save them all for him.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 2, 2018
From March 3rd (return from injury) to today, RNH is 33rd in league scoring with 41 points in 41 games.
More points than:
So piss off with your bullshit take about him not being a top line player
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) December 2, 2018
A new week means a new episode of Oilersnation Radio and this episode is chock-full of Edmonton Oilers content that you can slip right into your earholes. This week, we cover the Valentin Zykov waiver claim, whether the Strome for Spooner trade is worse than Eberle for Strome, the “retro” jersey debut, and another look at the Milan Lucic goal bet.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/01/2018 – 11:00 pm MT