Two. Big. Points. Final Score: 3-2 Oilers in the shootout
When I woke up this morning, all I could think about was how desperately I wanted the Oilers finally put together a full 60 minutes and beat the Canucks. I know that the first two games were disasters for varying reasons, but I also felt like they would be alright if they got a little bit of luck. As far as I saw it, the only problem with my plan was that the Oilers got a whole lot of luck on Monday night against the Sabres, and it wouldn’t have been all that surprising if the Hockey Gords decided we were not allowed to have any more fun this week. That said, the Oilers got some help early this morning when news came out that Elias Pettersson wouldn’t be playing, which significantly reduces the Canucks’ ability to score goals. To me, that set the table for the Oilers’ first win of the season series. Unlike what we saw against the Coyotes and their depleted lineup, the Oilers needed to find a way to take advantage.
After bulldozing their way through the first period and grabbing a one-goal lead, the Oilers needed to find a way to keep pushing forward and not let the Canucks get back into the game. Too often, we’ve seen them lag and space out for blocks of time, and if they could have only avoided that then this game would have been in the bag. The Canucks could not handle the Oilers’ early pressure and, to me, doing more of that could have been the key to success, but our boys struggled to get a repeat performance. Instead, they got scrambly and spent too much time in the penalty box, severely disrupting the flow they had going early. As the game went along, you could see the Canucks settling in and you could feel the pressure mounting. The Oilers went from having a lead to tied to down by a goal in the blink of an eye and were incredibly fortunate to have been on the right side of an offside challenge that cancelled out what would have been the game winner.
Though it didn’t matter in the end, the Oilers were fortunate to get a second chance to close things out after nearly blowing it in the second. It wasn’t the prettiest win we’ll ever see but you have to like the way the Oilers were able to grind it out.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Jujhar Khaira opened the scoring with a shorthanded beauty and you know that the BC boy will be pumped about that one. Khaira picked up the puck in the Canucks’ zone and he pulled off a fancy little spin-o-rama to top-shelf snipe that you’ll be seeing in the highlight heels later tonight. Beautiful goal by Khaira.
- Connor McDavid restored the Oilers early lead with his 29th goal of the season that came on a snipe that beat Markstrom high over the glove side. I don’t know if I have the words or the ability to describe how happy it makes me that Connor has decided he wants to shoot more, but the transformation has been a beautiful thing to watch and I’m grateful for it.
- Big props to Alex “The Answer” Chiasson for scoring the only goal in the shootout and, as it turns out, the only goal that mattered.
- Mikko Koskinen was rock solid against the Sabres on Monday and with the Oilers net seemingly up for grabs on a day-to-day basis, he had another chance to get a little run going as the starter. Despite having the lighter workload of the two goaltenders, Koskinen was called on to be sharp on several occasions and he made plenty of saves to keep the game close, especially in the third period and OT. If I was to nitpick, I guess that he’ll probably want that Sutter goal back. I certainly won’t hold it against him. Koskinen finished the night 20 saves and a .909 save%.
- How about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins quietly putting up another two-point night? Nuge is having a great season and it’s been fun to watch him blossom into the polished player that he’s become.
- Another big night for Darnell Nurse as he finished the game with a team-high 26:51 minutes, one hit, and five blocks. I never get tired of watching Nurse skate the puck out of trouble, but I do wish that he would have more of a plan than heading straight into the corner every time.
- I don’t know what happened to Kris Russell that caused him to love throwing his body in front of pucks but I thank him for it. Had he been a goalie as a kid then I think he would have probably been one of the greats. If only.
- I’ll tip my cap to Colby Cave for his first game with the Oilers. I can’t imagine it was easy to do considering he has yet to have a full practice with the team, but there were a couple of shifts where I noticed his nose for the net. Let’s see where this thing goes.
- Ken Hitchcock challenge win? ✔️
- Shout out to Cam Talbot for hooking that young fan up with a stick after warmup ended. You could tell by the tears in his eyes that the little man just made a memory he won’t ever forget.
- WIN! win! WIN! win! YES! As always, you can join in on the #BoozeNotBeets conversation over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Just over a minute after Jujhar Khaira’s shortie got the Oilers on the board, Brandon Sutter evened things up with a wrist shot from the boards that Koskinen would probably want back.
- Marcus Granlund knotted things up at two apiece after he picked up the puck in the high slot and ripped a quick snapshot up over Koskinen’s glove. The Canucks won a battle down low despite being outnumbered and that left Granlund wiiiiiide open when the puck finally got to him.
- After having a really nice first period spent building themselves a lead, the Oilers took their foot off the gas and allowed the Canucks to get back into the game and almost into a lead had it not been for the Hitchblock. I know that both teams are battling for that second wildcard spot but this game should not have been this close. I know the Canucks are basically in line with the Oilers in the standings, but they shouldn’t be. You guys know I’m right.
- Jesse Puljujarvi only played 6:09 tonight. Why is he here? I thought Hitch wanted to help him grow or whatever? Send the kid back to Bakersfield and let him figure it out.
- Caleb Jones left the game after taking a late hit by Gudbranson when he didn’t even have the puck and we have to hope that he’ll be okay. Did the Canucks get a penalty? No. They did not.
- Oilers won only 45% of the draws they took and that’s not good enough, especially against a younger team like the Canucks. I know it didn’t matter in the end but it’s still an opportunity for improvement.
- Tobias Rieder may never score again.
|07:35||Edmonton||SHG – Jujhar Khaira (3) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (28)||1-0|
|08:53||Vancouver||PPG – Brandon Sutter (4) ASST: Ben Hutton (12), Markus Granlund (9)||1-1|
|19:03||Edmonton||PPG – Connor McDavid (29) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (32), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (29)||2-1|
|09:52||Vancouver||Markus Granlund (8) ASST: Tim Schaller (6)||2-2|
|Vancouver||Missed – Markus Granlund|
|Edmonton||Missed – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins|
|Vancouver||Missed – Brock Boeser|
|Edmonton||Missed – Connor McDavid|
|Vancouver||Missed – Bo Horvat|
|Edmonton||Missed – Leon Draisaitl|
|Vancouver||Missed – Josh Leivo|
|Edmonton||Missed – Jujhar Khaira|
|Vancouver||Missed – Antoine Roussel|
|Edmonton||Goal – Alex Chiasson|
— Super Nerd Mike (@CityOfChamps14) January 17, 2019
The offside rule applying in that manner where the offside player had no possible effect on the play but it’s still called back is only stupid when it works against the Oilers 👌
— BB (@BrittOilersB) January 17, 2019
Weird that the one sustainable improvement post-Hitch appears to be in winning challenges.
— Oilers Crystal Ball of Crap Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) January 17, 2019
holy efficient Batman….Sabres 2 shots 2 goals in 3rd…1 shot 1 goal in OT to beat Calgary.
— Dean Millard (@DuckMillard) January 17, 2019
Having trouble breathing…
— Anthony Flynn (@anthonyjflynn) January 17, 2019
REAL LIFE PODCAST
With Jay back from his Australian vacation, there was a lot of catching up to do as he reacclimatizes himself to being back home and being back in the mix with the Oilers. When he left, the Oilers were in the midst of a solid run that saw them climbing their way up the Western Conference standings, but then, somewhere along the lines, things really went sideways.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/16/2019 – 11:00 pm MST