With the Western Conference and the Pacific Division as tight as they are, every single game has massive implications on the standings. Tonight’s opponent, the Minnesota Wild, sat just two points ahead of the Oilers in the wild card standings. It was a good ‘ol four-point swing and those points were ripe for the picking. The Wild were coming off a 2-0 loss to the Flames just last night and they were without their best checking centre, Mikko Koivu.
This was not just a big game for the Oilers as a unit, but for some individual players as well. Ken Hitchcock went back to Cam Talbot between the pipes, who was looking to build on his solid outing earlier this week against the St. Louis Blues. This was also our first chance to see Valentin Zykov in an Oilers jersey. Shoutout to the government for finally letting him play!
From the first shift of the game, the Oilers looked like the more motivated and rested team. They would get their first goal of the game before the Wild even registered a shot. That goal was just a thing of beauty as McDavid ripped up the ice before sliding a perfect pass to Leon Draisaitl who promptly fired it past Devan Dubnyk.
It was a tough night for our former boy Devan Dubnyk. The second goal should have never gone in as Dubnyk bobbled a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dump in and allowed the Oilers to jam home the rebound. The third goal, which was the final shot Dubnyk would face in this game, was just another thing of beauty from Captain Connor.
Every night, McDavid and Draisaitl do some remarkable things with the puck but tonight, 97 and 29 were just on another level. Every single shift they were generating chances and making life very tough on the Minnesota Wild.
The first period ended 3-1 and the Oilers took a bit of a step back in the second period but when they faltered, Cam Talbot was there to back them up and keep the lead at two. He stopped all 14 shots he faced in the middle frame including a few odd-man rushes and some chances from in-tight.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about this one going into the third but it took the team about two minutes to ease my mind as Zack Kassian absolutely ripped one home. A GOAL FOR THE IDENTITY LINE! What a sight that was.
Things got a little shaky towards the middle part of the third period but just as all my concerns came flooding back, Connor McDavid decided that was enough of that. Seriously, it seems like he can just create goals at will. Great finish by Leon once again.
Add on goals from Alex Chiasson and Darnell Nurse and you got yourself a 7-2 Oilers victory.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- I liked that Ken Hitchcock rolled four lines to start the game. Get everyone involved in the game early. I think that’s a big reason why they were able to get off to such a strong start in this one. By the end of the game, you could say that the Oilers got meaningful minutes from every single forward line. It was a good night and it started with a smart coaching move by Ken Hitchcock.
- That first goal was a thing of beauty. What made it even more impressive to me was the fact that Connor McDavid was getting towards the end of his shift and then just casually turned on the jets and ripped up ice. He seemingly never runs out of energy.
- I wonder if that first goal was enough to get Draisaitl out of Nation Dan’s doghouse?
- I had high expectations for Jujhar Khaira heading into this season and he was very disappointing through the first two months of the season. Tonight was his best game of the season and third solid game in a row. He seems to have found another gear on a line with RNH. His assist on that Alex Chiasson goal? That was just a product of a guy just straight up working his ass off. He has the potential to be a legit, middle six power forward if he continues to play like this.
- Cam Talbot made outstanding save after outstanding save when this game was still 3-1. Could have been an entirely different result if he didn’t bail them out a few times.
- It’s great watching any Oiler score, but some guys just immediately make you smile when they find the back of the net. Zack Kassian is one of those guys.
- A pair of big penalty kills in the second period as well. A PPG from the Wild at that point could have really swung momentum.
- Oh, the Wild are starting to put on some pressure? Yeah, Connor McDavid will put a quick stop to that. What a rush on that fifth goal.
- Another goal for Alex Chiasson? What do I always say kids… this is why we #PTOEveryone!
- Shoutout to everyone who won on ‘Safeway Score and Win’. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!
THE FACE PALMERS
- Remember when we used to watch Devan Dubnyk give up goals like that? Those were bad times.
- How in the world does a team with Connor McDavid not get a single powerplay until the final minute of the game? Seriously, What a joke. They only had two calls against them, but there were a handful of plays where I thought Minnesota deserved to sit for two.
- There’s a part of me that still misses Matt Hendricks #Paralyzer4Life
- For the most part, the Oilers have gotten better defensively under Ken Hitchcock, but they still give up too many ‘Grade A’ chances for my liking. It seems like they’ll do a great job of keeping Minnesota to the outside and then all of the sudden they’ll just forget what they’re doing and give the Wild open look.
- Everyone have a drink for Milan Lucic tonight. He had two incredible looks in tonight’s game and he just cannot buy one. He hit a post… like really? A damn post?! He’ll get one soon. I believe.
- The Wild got real close to making this a one-goal game in the third period. Nothing came of it, but the Oilers definitely got a little bit too comfortable with their lead for about five minutes in the final frame. Can’t be doing that against good teams.
- Pouring one out for everyone who didn’t win on ‘Safeway Score and Win’, we’ll get ’em next time!
- The Oilersnation Christmas party looks like fun! I’m not there because I’m writing this! Thanks, boys!
|04:14||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (14) ASST: Connor McDavid (23)||0-1|
|07:44||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (8) ASST: Jujhar Khaira (8), Darnell Nurse (6)||0-2|
|08:42||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (15) ASST: Kris Russell (7), Kevin Gravel (2)||0-3|
|10:38||Minnesota||Marcus Foligno (2) ASST: Matt Hendricks (1), J.T. Brown (3)||1-3|
|01:51||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (2) ASST: Milan Lucic (5), Matt Benning (5)||1-4|
|07:32||Minnesota||Nino Niederreiter (4) ASST: Zach Parise (11), Charlie Coyle (9)||2-4|
|10:34||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (15) ASST: Connor McDavid (24)||2-5|
|13:48||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson (12) ASST: Jujhar Khaira (9)||2-6|
|17:09||Edmonton||Darnell Nurse (3) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (18), Connor McDavid (25)||2-7|
|06:06||Edmonton||Valentin Zykov – Holding – 2 minutes|
|10:50||Edmonton||Oscar Klefbom – Holding Stick – 2 minutes|
|17:48||Minnesota||Joel Eriksson Ek – Slashing – 2 minutes|
McDavid has absolutely embarrassed the flu
— Ryan (@IAmByks) December 8, 2018
Ryan Byks leads the league in great Oilers tweets/60.
Dubnyk is feeling nostalgic about his previous play in this city.
— Not Don Iveson (@NotDonIveson) December 8, 2018
— Dean Millard (@DuckMillard) December 8, 2018
Great use of the GIF Deano!
The Gords gave the puck back to 97 because the zebras didn't call anything all game on MIN. #karma
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) December 8, 2018
PREACH IT WOODGUY! PREACH IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS!
All the goals for me!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/m2LYLADK7i
— VisuallyBetter (@Isuckatpicking) December 8, 2018
I love you Visually Better. You always entertain.