NOW THAT’S HOW YOU START YOUR SATURDAY! OILERS WIN!
After beating a weak Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Wednesday night, the Oilers were back in action this morning taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that is pretty much the exact opposite of the Sens. While Ottawa sold off all their good players, the Jackets loaded up in the week leading up to the trade deadline acquiring Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Senators, Adam McQuaid from the Rangers, and holding onto their own pending UFA’s Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
While the Oilers were coming off a win, you couldn’t be blamed for being a little bit pessimistic about this morning’s matchup. Since the calendar flipped to 2019, the Oilers have only won consecutive games twice. Combine that with the fact Columbus is in the thick of a very tight Eastern Conference playoff race and that the Oilers often struggle in afternoon games had me very concerned.
That’s also what made the first period, and the entire game in general, even more surprising.
The Oilers looked like the better team in the opening 20 minutes and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead thanks to a nice wrister from Zack Kassian, his 10th on the season. The Jackets were flat, but the Oil did a great job of recognizing that and pouring on the pressure. The shot clock stayed pretty even all game, but there’s no doubt that the Oilers were the better team.
After a strong opening frame, I was still a little concerned. We saw the Oilers start strong against the Maple Leafs and then completely fall apart. Columbus is a dangerous offensive team and they can score in bunches.
Edmonton kept the pedal to the floor in the second and quickly erased any doubt in my mind that they would win this game. The Chiasson-RNH-Lucic line had a few solid shifts but the big turning point today was the roughly 90 seconds of possession for the Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian line that eventually led to Josh Curries second career NHL goal.
From that point forward, the Oilers found another gear and didn’t let the Jackets back into things. They would get goals from Draisaitl and Chiasson before the end of the second period to increase their lead to four.
CBJ pushed back a little in the third period, but the Oilers did a good job of limiting Columbus to only a few high-quality scoring chances. Koskinen made 30 saves on the night, and nine in the third period, en route to his fourth shutout of the season.
In my opinion, that was one of the best 60 minutes of hockey we’ve seen from the Oilers all season. They were the better team in all three periods, their star players were electric, they suffocated a dynamic Blue Jackets forward group, and they got a shutout performance from their goaltender.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- You could tell after about five minutes that McDavid was absolutely buzzing. Heading into this game, he averaged two points per game against the Jackets in his career. He finished the game with three assists, which brings him to 90 points on the season.
- Mikko Koskinen didn’t have to make too many big saves, but he was solid tonight. He didn’t allow very many rebounds and when the game was close, he stood tall. An excellent night for big #19.
- Leon Draisaitl had another dominant game. He scored his 40th of the year but just before scoring that goal, he made a great play in the neutral zone to pick off a pass. He was making good plays in all three zones tonight.
- It’s hard to not smile when Josh Currie scores. He’s a fantastic story and the more I see him play at the NHL level, the more I think the Oilers may have found a player here. He may not have to ride the bus in the AHL for much longer.
- Chiasson is off the schneid! He got his first in 21 games and you could see the relief in his celebration. These final 17 games will go a long way in determining if he’s back in Edmonton next year and what his next contract will look like.
- Not only did the Oilers do a good job of shutting down Columbus, they only took one penalty in the process. One play that stood out was Darnell Nurses effort to come back and prevent Cam Atkinson, who leads the Blue Jackets in goals with 35, from even getting a shot on goal. It seemed like everyone bought into playing a complete 200-foot game.
- We didn’t have to hear that super annoying cannon go off!
- Don’t look now, but the Oilers next two opponents are the Sabres and Canucks. Both of those teams are under .500 in their last ten games. If they play like they did today at Nationwide, they could put together a nice little run here.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Was nice to see goals from Chiasson, Kassian, and Currie, but all of them also involved either McDavid or Draisaitl. They need to get offensive production when 29 & 97 are off the ice if they want to string together multiple wins.
- It never came back to cost them, but the Russell/Nurse pairing had a handful of pretty ugly giveaways.
- It took until late in the third period for them to finally get a chance with the powerplay and it was a very ugly attempt. They couldn’t get any zone time with their top unit on the ice and once their second unit hops over the boards, all hope is generally lost.
- The Oilers did end up getting outshot which is never ideal.
- They’re still five points out of the final playoff spot. That’s not very good.
- The broadcast spent pretty much the entire second intermission talking about the Leafs or Flames. That was pretty annoying.
- I kept seeing social media posts of the rest of the Nation Staff drinking it up at The Canadian Brewhouse for the “Fan Therapy Brunch”. It looked like a lot of fun and I’m incredibly jealous of everyone who attended.
|06:27||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (10) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (40), Kris Russell (10)||1-0|
|05:07||Edmonton||Josh Currie (2) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (41), Connor McDavid (55)||2-0|
|08:53||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (40) ASST: Connor McDavid (56)||3-0|
|14:26||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson (18) ASST: Connor McDavid (57), Kris Russell (11)||4-0|
I’m out in public so I had to wear pants. -bm https://t.co/u2Ehy8hZcf
— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) March 2, 2019
— Dane Britten (@dcbritts94) March 2, 2019
— Kevin McGrath (@askkevanything) March 2, 2019
— Dean Millard (@DuckMillard) March 2, 2019
Currie gets one, Chiasson ends his drought. Draisaitl hits 40. Oilers not only dominating, but checking off all the feel good boxes here in Columbus.
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) March 2, 2019
@tyleryaremchuk here’s something for your post game write up
Oilers are 4-1-1 with Sekera. Not that he is the be all end all, but it’s crazy what a difference having the 6 defencemen the team feels is optimum, all in the lineup at once.
— Jeremy K. (@JerKlaus) March 2, 2019
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 3/2/2019 – 1:15 pm MT