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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 3, Canucks 2 post-game Oil Spills: Oilers match their longest winning streak of the season

The Oilers hung on for a 3-2 win over the Canucks last night, extending their winning streak to four-game, which matches their longest run of the season. Unfortunately, all the other teams they’re chasing in the Western Conference playoff race also won, so the Oilers just stood their ground.

What happened?

The Oilers opened the scoring a few minutes into the first period when Sam Gagner found Alex Chiasson in front of the net for his 19th goal of the season. The assist gave Gagner his 300th point as an Oiler. Is Sam Gagner The Answer?!?!

Before the end of the first, the Oilers extended their lead to 2-0. Leon Draisaitl brought the puck into the zone, did a spin move to protect the puck, hit Connor McDavid in stride, then McDavid hit Zack Kassian who was crashing the net. The work by Draisaitl and McDavid to open up space here was excellent. Kassian has also figured out that if you go to the net with your stick on the ice when playing with these two, good things will happen.

Early in the second, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 3-0 lead with his 21st goal of the season. The goal also gave RNH 57 points on the season, which broke his career-high of 56 set in back-to-back seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Vancouver would add a couple of goals to make it interesting, but the Oilers shut the door in the third period. They also managed to miss another open net, but thankfully it didn’t come back to haunt them.

By the numbers

The first period was wide open as both teams peppered a bunch of shots on net. The Oilers carried play in the second period but then went into a defensive shell in the third. While the Canucks got 26 shot attempts in the third (in all situations), the Oilers limited them to just nine actual shots on goal.

Thoughts…

  • As I said at the beginning of this post, Edmonton has matched their season-high with this four-game winning streak. Their other four-game streak came back in November towards the beginning of Ken Hitchcock era when they beat St. Louis, Minnesota, Calgary, and Colorado. That streak came to an end when Oscar Klefbom went down with an injury and the season subsequently started to spiral downwards.
  • While it might be too little too late, the Oilers have played quite well recently, and, at the very least, they’re making things interesting in the final few weeks of the season. They have points in eight of their last nine games, but, unfortunately, they haven’t made up much ground in the playoff race because three other teams have also started playing for their lives. Over the same stretch, the Wild have gone 6-0-2, the Stars have gone 6-2, the Coyotes have gone 7-1, and the Oilers sit seven points out of a playoff spot with 15 games left to play.
  • I can understand why people would want the team to lose games down the stretch in order to improve their draft position. There’s merit to that given the higher draft choice will have more of an impact on the organization than wins in March that very likely put the team just short of a playoff spot. Still, there are genuine positives to build on when looking at this stretch. Edmonton’s good play over their last nine games isn’t just some random sample size I decided to grab. It all coincides with the Oilers finally icing their ideal blueline. Andrej Sekera made his season debut on Feb. 19 against the Coyotes and the team has just one regulation loss since. Sekera has slotted in alongside Matt Benning on the team’s third pair playing roughly 15 minutes per game. The pair has been strong in their limited minutes, but, most importantly, it means guys like Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom don’t have to play well above their heads to compensate for scrubs on the bottom pairing. It’s amazing the difference one steady, veteran player can make on the team.
  • It’s important for the Oilers to be patient as they work through cleaning up Peter Chiarelli’s colossal mess. That means no major free agent signings and no trading draft picks and prospects for immediate help. What this stretch indicates for me, though, is that this team, with a healthy blueline, is good enough to squeeze into a playoff spot next year. The team is far from a contender, but they can still be competitive as they slowly navigate through cap hell. The last thing I want to see is for the next general manager to come in and trade prospects to help immediately fix the team right now. While the team right now is far from perfect, strong play with a healthy blueline suggests to me this team without any major moves can be good enough to make the playoffs.
  • Die Hard Oiler Fan

    Agree with basically all of your thoughts Cam. While the Oiler defense is not elite, this is the first time they have iced their top 6 (Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse, Russell, Sekera and Benning) at the same time in almost 2 years. I know Sekera came back late last year, but with his knee brace, was very ineffective. I think they are probably a wilcard team IF this group was healthy all year.
    That said, still lots of holes up front. The team needs young, cheap top 6 talent. The Oilers are not going to make the playoffs (do the math, assuming Dallas and Minnesota play 500 hockey the rest of the way). I fear that the Oil will play well the rest of the way, just miss the playoffs, end up drafting about 13th, and miss some of the top forward talent, which depending on your view, extends until about pick #10 or so. This recent win streak has seen them drop from pick #6 (pre lottery) to #9. I hate wishing for my team to lose, but I think the team will be better off in the long run.

    • Kepler62c

      Are you really a “Die Hard Oiler Fan” if you want them to lose? Come on man, believe! At Minnesota’s current pace they finish with 89-90 points, if the Oil go 11-3-1 they’ll hit 90. Unlikely? Sure. Possible? Absolutely.

      • Oily Reign

        At Minnesota’s “current” pace, they won’t lose another game. Unfortunately it’s out of our hands for the most part. But, I do agree with you that we need to finish strongly, and win every game that we can.
        We need to properly assess what we have and/or need. Lots of players playing for their positions, and in some cases, their NHL careers.
        Also, we certainly know that draft positions don’t guarantee a player, but that continued losing, breeds a culture.
        We could also finish 17th and still win the lottery…

        • jesse says yep

          Oh Baby. Please let the Oilers win the lottery and get to make the first pick in Vancouver! If they riot when they lose the cup I can’t even imagine what would happen if the Oil get to take home a Hugh’s brother

    • Total Points

      Drafting high does not work for the Oilers. They are better off drafting later in the first round so the player can remain in Junior and then in the AHL for a few years.

    • Retired Secret Agent

      @ Die Hard. I’d rather they play well down the stretch and learn how to win, than lose out for another high draft pick savior. How’s that worked for us so far?

  • Hockeytalkguy

    I was never a big Sekera fan, but boy he sure has been playing well. Very happy for him. I never noticed until now how he plays a very efficient, North South game. If it is one thing that drives me bananas with this team it’s screwing around with the puck in there own end.

    • NZOF

      Only real difference in player personnel the past few games is that Reggie is back. Yet he seems to be one of the first names that’s thrown out in terms of freeing cap space.
      I get it, he’s our highest paid D (due to Larsson & Klef being absolute bargains for what they bring), but he brings such a steadying presence to that D corps. Why mess with that?

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Damn.
    6 million a year for the last how many years?
    And 57 is his career high.

    Just goes to show the bias of media and fans when it comes to certain players.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    Just to put a smile on everyone’s face……Went to Flames Nation to do some reading…..NOT TROLLING. They are in full panic mode down South. Already conceding that San Jose going to finish 1st. A lot of posters complaining how soft they are and how they wish they had a guy like Kassian. Also,quite a few comments about Tkachuk and his upcoming contract, and how even if he signed for 8 million the fans think that is total over pay.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Random fact of the day:
    The Oilers +/- leader so far this season is……….
    Matt Benning @ +12 (?!?!???).
    I just saw that and am having a hard time accepting it.