Everybody gets a goal! Final Score: 7-2 Oilers
After the horrific effort that we saw against the Coyotes on Saturday night, it was hard to imagine the Oilers being any worse tonight against the Sabres. Admittedly, it was a low bar to clear but I was confident the boys would be able to clear it. That said, trying harder wasn’t going to be enough. Buffalo has more scoring options than the depleted Coyotes do, and even if the Oilers managed a better effort than we got on Saturday, there were still going to be plenty of hurdles to clear if they were actually going to walk away with two points. They needed better goaltending, some kind of defensive plan to action, their best players to be exactly that, and, if they were really lucky, maybe a goal or two from someone other than McDraiNugeSson. It was a simple dream, but it was a beautiful one.
As you can imagine, my dream of watching a balanced Oilers win looked more like a nightmare when the Sabres scored on their first shot of the hockey game. But before I could even finish firing off a tweet to complain about another brutal start, Zack Kassian turned things around by potting a first shot goal of his own, evening up the score and setting the Oilers off on a run of three straight goals. To put it another way, the opening period of this hockey game was an emotional rollercoaster and all we could do was strap in and hope that the highs would outnumber the lows. But even when the Sabres broke the streak and pulled themselves back to within one, luck remained on the Oilers’ side as they continued their offensive onslaught despite being outshot overall. Goals were coming from everywhere, Koskinen was dialled in, and it was one of those nights where the Oilers were just not going to be beaten. The Sabres could have put 12 up on the board and the Oilers would have found a way to get 13 goals.
I don’t know why it is that some nights just go your way in sports, but the Oilers had one of them tonight. Despite the shots against, basically everything went their way and it was the kind of victory that I think every single one of us needed right now. We don’t get blowouts often so I’m sure as hell going to enjoy it when we do.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Only moments after the Sabres scored on their first shot of the game, Zack Kassian turned around and pulled off the same trick at the other end of the ice. I hadn’t even finished complaining about Sheary’s goal in this very wrap up before Kassian went and tied things up. Later on in the first period, Kassian got his second after he broke into the slot with Tobi Rieder on a 2-on-1, and he made no mistake when faced with the empty net. Nice pass by Rieder, nice finish by Kassian.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 15th goal of the year by being in the right place at the right time and having Caleb Jones’ shot bounce in off of him. It was the kind of goal that the Oilers have had going against them lately, and I was stoked to see them be on the right end of a bounce for once. Nuge finished the night with two points as he quietly continues his pace for the best season of his NHL career.
- What do you get when you give Connor McDavid a clear breakaway from your own blue line? A goal. I mean, what else were you expecting? When I heard that Connor was sick for the skills competition yesterday, I was super nervous that he wasn’t going to be able to play today and I was unbelievably stoked to see him in the lineup. Without McDavid, the Oilers are a tire fire and I don’t know if I was ready to handle another McDavidless evening.
- After going 42 games between goals, Milan Lucic didn’t have to wait nearly as long for his third as he intercepted the puck in the high slot and absolutely roofed a snapshot past Hutton, ending the goaltender’s night. Great solo effort, takeaway, and shot by the big man. Had enough? No you haven’t. Lucic scored AGAIN in the third period after he ripped a heavy shot that made its way through Ullmark’s legs and into the net for his fourth of the year. If Lucic can actually get himself going then he’s worth more to this team than any trade that Chiarelli can make right now.
- Jealous about the wicked awesome scoring party that was going on around him, Leon Draisaitl joined in on the fun with a third-period power play goal that acted as the extra point on the touchdown. As per tradition, Connor McDavid set the play up and Leon was there to clean up the garbage and I loved every second of it.
- Mikko Koskinen got back between the pipes for the first in a while, and I was really hoping that he’d be able to regain a little of that swagger that he had before the Christmas break. Outside of the first shot goal that literally made me laugh out loud, Mikko Koskinen was rock solid for the Oilers and a huge reason that they were able to win this hockey game. For the 15th time in 16 games, the Oilers were outshot again and had it not been for Koskinen then this game could have very easily gone the other way. Maybe if another shot or two found their way past him that the offensive outburst would never have happened, but I’m thankful we don’t have to worry about that as the Oilers got both the pitching and hitting they needed to win this one comfortably. Koskinen finished his night with 41 saves and a .953 save%.
- That, right there, was another big night for Darryl on the back end as he finished the night with an assist, one shot, three hits, and two blocks in his 20:46 on the ice. Darnell Nurse now has 17 points in his last 19 games as he continues to ramp up his play in the absence of Oscar Klefbom.
- Adam Larsson played a team-high 24:17 tonight and finished with an assist, one shot, three hits, and a block. Solid night for the Swede after a tough outing against the Coyotes on Saturday.
- Who blogs for this website and likes when the Oilers win 56% of the faceoffs? That’s right. This guy does.
- Big shout out to Carter Hutton. You do fine work, buddy.
- That was a weird funkin’ win, but we’ll take it! As always, you can join in on the #BoozeNotBeets conversation over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Are you surprised that Conor Sheary scored on the Sabres’ first shot of the net? Probably not, right? Remember, that’s not a good thing to get used to having this happen. Fortunately, Kass did the same thing at the other end only moments later so it didn’t burn us too badly, but I wish I could figure out why this keeps happening to them.
- Evan Rodrigues got the Sabres’ second goal on a perfectly executed dump a chase play that got the Oilers scrambling and unable to clear the zone. After the first clearing attempt was unsuccessful, the Sabres were able to recover the puck and feed it towards the slot where Rodrigues was waiting.
- I really don’t like seeing the Oilers get outshot every night and this game marked the 14th time in 16 games that the Oilers have surrendered more than they’ve taken. Admittedly, a bunch of Buffalo’s shots were coming from the outside, but as we’ve seen over the last few games with all the weird deflection goals, sometimes you just need to throw the puck at the net for good things to happen. Buffalo outshot the Oilers 43-25 and I hope every player thanks Mikko Koskinen on their way out of the building.
- I know it’s hard to be critical of a big win like that, and I don’t plan to be, but I do think that the Oilers gave the puck up too much tonight which certainly contributed to Buffalo’s bloated shot total. Specifically, I think the Oilers need to work on their breakout a little bit.
- The idea that Pistol Pete Chiarelli is back in the trade market is absolutely terrifying. Elliotte Friedman reported tonight on the NHL Network that Jesse Puljujarvi and this year’s first rounder are both in play. I can wait to find out which Griffin Reinhart type that we get next! These are scary times, friends.
|01:00||Buffalo||Casey Mittelstadt (7) ASST: Conor Sheary (11), Rasmus Dahlin (21)||1-0|
|02:33||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (3) ASST: Kyle Brodziak (3), Tobias Rieder (8)||1-1|
|03:23||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15) ASST: Caleb Jones (4)||1-2|
|04:28||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (4) ASST: Tobias Rieder (9), Mikko Koskinen (1)||1-3|
|08:57||Buffalo||Evan Rodrigues (3) ASST: Vladimir Sobotka (6), Rasmus Ristolainen (23)||2-3|
|00:24||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (28)||2-4|
|04:49||Edmonton||Milan Lucic (3)||2-5|
|03:50||Edmonton||Milan Lucic (4) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (27), Adam Larsson (12)||2-6|
|05:16||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (24) ASST: Connor McDavid (41), Darnell Nurse (17)||2-7|
— Adam McGale (@AdamMcGale) January 15, 2019
Kassian/Lucic before tonight: 4 combined goals in 87 games.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) January 15, 2019
That should be the end of this goalie’s NHL career
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) January 15, 2019
— Griffin? (@GriffinPosynick) January 15, 2019
All the booze for @jsbmbaggedmilk tonight. Safe to say now.
— Tony (@omegamoose) January 15, 2019
I’m not saying he’s the reason the score is what it is… but I’m not NOT saying that either
— Rory (@beardsbrown) January 15, 2019
This week, things get heated when we start going through Peter Chiarelli’s handiwork and the refs blatant disregard for player safety, but then cooler heads prevail when we break down Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 500 games with the Oilers and Milan Lucic finally breaking his slump.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/14/2019 – 10:00 pm MST