Jason Pominville for Vezina! Final Score: 4-3 Oilers
Coming into today’s game, the Oilers were eight points out of the second Wild Card spot and the only way to get back into the mix is to keep winning. From where I blog, the Oilers had a very good chance of keeping the ball rolling provided that they could find a way to match up against the Sabres as tightly as they did against the Blue Jackets on Saturday. Quite frankly, the game against Columbus was as good as we’ve seen the boys play in a while and they could make things interesting down the stretch if they can manage to keep it up. Obviously, that’s a mighty big ‘if’ to overcome but tonight’s game provided another opportunity to keep hope alive and my body was ready for it.
After trading goals in the opening minutes of the first period, I wasn’t sure whether we were staring down the barrel of a high scoring shootout or if those early goals would only be a tease of what could have been. With two teams that are a ways back from the playoffs, you never know what you’re going to get. As it turns out, the Sabres came looking for a gunfight as they packed plenty of heat and fired everything they could at the net, making life difficult for Oilers in the process… at least early on. I mean, things certainly looked bleak when the Oilers were down 3-1 in the second period when it seemed like they were hanging on for dear life rather than plotting a comeback. Then, with a quick spin of the line blender, the Oilers got the spark they needed to kick off what ended up being an amazing three-goal finish to the second period.
Much to our collective delight, those three goals were not only incredible to watch but were also all the Oilers would need as they closed out the third period with some sound defending and a huge dose of luck. To put it another way, Jason Pominville could get my vote for the Vezina.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Is there anything outside of the surface of the sun that’s hotter than Leon Draisaitl right now? No. That’s the answer. No. Leon added goal #41 to his total after he was the business end of a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Connor McDavid that the duo executed perfectly, giving the Oilers an early lead.
- Zack Kassian kept his hot streak going with a beautiful one-timer goal off of a ridiculous cross-ice pass from Connor McDavid. The captain basically sauced the thing 80 feet right into Kassian’s wheelhouse and the big man made no mistake of clapping it past Ullmark.
- Less than two minutes after Kassian’s goal, Darnell Nurse unleashed an absolute laser that I’m pretty sure Ullmark still hasn’t seen go past him. After Draisaitl picked the puck up at the half-boards, he made a perfect pass into the slot where Darryl was waiting to unleash hell.
- With less than 10 seconds left on the clock in the second period, Kyle Brodziak found himself in front of the net with an incoming point shot from Adam Larsson that deflected perfectly off his skate and through Linus Ullmark’s legs, restoring the Oilers lead for the first time since Draisaitl opened the scoring.
- Gotta love three goals in 3:26 to finish off the second period.
- I know Connor missed the empty netter at the end of the game but I’m happy to forget about that because the team still won and he added another two assists to the pile, including that ridiculous cross-ice saucer on Kassian’s goal.
- After getting a shutout against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes and looking to extend his winning streak. Early on, he was not as sharp as he has been over the past couple of nights and got burned with a couple of goals that he’d definitely want to have back, but that was not the case at all over the final forty minutes. Had it not been for Koskinen then this game would have been over early and the comeback never would have happened. Koskinen came up clutch with all kinds of big saves down the stretch and finished his night with 35 saves and a .921 save%.
- Sam Gagner got his first assist since being back with the Oilers and I can’t get enough of this story. Quite frankly, Sam Gagner could be The Answer.
- Big props go out to Kris Russell for playing a rock solid game tonight. As always, he finished the game with some big blocked shots and it was nice to see him get an assist as a bonus for his efforts.
- You like the Oilers winning 58% of the draws they took? I certainly do.
- I’m enjoying my post-win cocktails! As always, you can join in on the #BoozeNotBeets win cast conversation over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Moments after Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring, Jack Eichel tied the game up at one after he made a power move from the boards to the slot and lifted a perfectly placed wrister over Koskinen’s shoulder. Eichel scored a second goal a little bit later in the period to extend the Sabres’ lead to two goals. If Eichel went out to try and have a statement game against Connor tonight, Gord knows how he hates the comparison, then he certainly put his best foot forward as he was dangerous all night long.
- Casey Mittelstadt gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead after he picked up the puck in the left circle and snapped a wrister past Mikko Koskinen. After Eichel got the Sabres on the board, they had the Oilers running around a little bit in their own zone and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see Mittelstadt/someone get another one.
- Getting outshot 38-27 against the Buffalo Sabres is probably not a great look, but you have to be happy to take the win and run.
- How bad was the Oilers’ lone power play chance tonight? If you had never watched hockey before and you saw the Oilers’ power play, you’d think the point of having the man advantage was to allow the other team to ice the puck as many times as they could without ever getting a shot on goal.
- Speaking of the power play, how did the Oilers only get one? I know the Sabres took a penalty in the last minute of the game but that hardly counts. You know what I mean.
|01:28||Edmonton||SHG – Leon Draisaitl (41) ASST: Connor McDavid (58), Darnell Nurse (26)||1-0|
|02:42||Buffalo||PPG – Jack Eichel (24) ASST: Rasmus Ristolainen (34), Jeff Skinner (22)||1-1|
|13:29||Buffalo||Casey Mittelstadt (10) ASST: Scott Wilson (1), Jason Pominville (13)||1-2|
|17:24||Buffalo||Jack Eichel (25)||1-3|
|16:29||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (11) ASST: Connor McDavid (59), Kris Russell (12)||2-3|
|18:46||Edmonton||Darnell Nurse (8) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (42), Sam Gagner (3)||3-3|
|19:55||Edmonton||Kyle Brodziak (5) ASST: Adam Larsson (14), Milan Lucic (12)||4-3|
The first 88 seconds of tonight's #Oilers game
The rest of the first period. pic.twitter.com/M3kog3h52E
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) March 5, 2019
— Kirsten Alyssa (@_kirstenalyssa) March 5, 2019
Getting rid of swearing is apparently on the agenda at the NHL GM meetings…. this might be the dumbest thing ever discussed at one of these meetings pic.twitter.com/HAmntu2gfL
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) March 4, 2019
— Austin Edward (@AusBear17) March 5, 2019
This feels like Final Destination and the Oilers are about to die a brutal and strange death
— Todd Van Berkel (@toadvb) March 5, 2019
No more beets! No more beets!
— Allen (@rakramer79) March 5, 2019
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 3/4/2019 – 7:45 pm MT