TWO BIG POINTS, BOYS! Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
After Saturday’s heated affair down in Calgary, all anyone has been talking about around here is the next Battle of Alberta that’s coming up on January 29th while unintentionally ignoring how important tonight’s contest is against the Predators. If we’re looking at the Wild Card spots in the Western Conference, the Oilers and Preds are separated by only four points and that meant that I was hoping that the boys would be able to look past Calgary, focus on the task at hand, and put some distance between themselves and Nashville. I don’t care that we’re only in January, every point in the back half of the season is important and the only result that I was going to accept had to include a 25th ‘W’ being added to their totals. As always, the Oilers needed to make sure that they got off to a quick start to set the pace and give themselves the best chance they could at winning, which was exactly what they did. Well… kinda.
With Pekka Rinne being the Oilers killer he has been over the years, Gregor mentioned this morning that he’s won 12-straight against Edmonton, getting something past him early was going to be crucial. The good news is that’s exactly what happened. The bad news is that the early lead didn’t last. After opening the scoring on a beautiful goal from RNH that came off of a clean draw by Draisaitl, the Oilers quickly found themselves down by one as a result of shoddy defensive work and poor choices with the puck. To be honest, they were actually lucky to tie the game up in the dying moments of the opening period. But from there, they cranked up their play and it was fun to watch. With two goals on the board per side as the game moved into the second period, Edmonton needed to keep pushing for offensive chances while also tightening up in their own zone and I felt like they did a pretty good job of that. And when Josh Archibald restored the lead, I was feeling really positive about their opportunity to close things out provided that they could find the juice to keep things going.
Heading into the third period with a one-goal lead, Edmonton needed to make sure they were paying attention to the details in their own zone while also continuing to apply pressure on Rinne at the other end. Since we knew that the Preds were going to push to tie things up, it would be up to the Oilers to bend without breaking and do what they could to limit the overall time that they spent in their own zone. So did they listen? Yes. Backed by strong goaltending from Mike Smith, Edmonton shut things down in the third period and kept Nashville to the outside of the ice and limited their space and time to produce quality chances. At the end of the day, this was a huge win for a team that needed one and it was a lot of fun to watch them pull it off. Now, to do the same thing against Arizona on Saturday.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for the Oilers after he ripped a quick snapshot into the top shelf off of a clean faceoff win by Leon Draisaitl. RNH has been red hot lately and finds himself on pace for more than 60 points over a full season, which is incredibly impressive after the slow start to the season he had as he battled through that hand injury. Nugent-Hopkins now finds himself on a four-game point streak. I love this dude and the Oilers need to #KeepNugeForever.
- A few minutes after Nashville took the lead, Leon Draisaitl tied the game up (2-2) with a powerplay goal from the side of the net and beat Rinne over the glove from a weird angle. On that PP, the boys were buzzing and creating all kinds of chances and it was Draisaitl that was able to bang home the rebound in the dying seconds of the period. Leon added an empty netter to close the game out tonight and give him 27 goals on the year.
- Josh Archibald was playing in Kassian’s spot today as a result of his suspension and he made the most of it with a second period goal that restored the Oilers’ lead. To be honest, I didn’t really think Archibald was working out too well alongside McDavid and then moments later he went out and popped one home so I guess I’ll just go ahead and shut my mouth.
- How about a casual three-point night for Connor McDavid? The dude is straight magic and I will never get tired of watching him do his thing.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes for his fifth start in the last six games and looking to continue his own personal win streak, and he did not disappoint as he came up with another strong game, punctuated by some huge and timely saves. From start to finish, Smith was great for the Oilers and he outduelled a guy that has owned this team for a very long time. Smith finished the night with 30 saves and a .938 save%.
- Oscar Klefbom continues to play huge minutes for the Oilers in all situations and tonight’s game was no different. With a 28:33 TOI, he played more than anyone else in this game and added an assist for good measure.
- I know he didn’t get a point tonight, but I’m still going to shout out Kailer Yamamoto for the way he’s fitting in on the second like with Nuge and Draisaitl. That trio has been dangerous since being put together and I hope the good times keep rolling right into April. Has the team told this kid to find a place to live yet?
- How about that powerplay? All season long, the PP has come through for the Oilers when they really needed it and tonight’s game was no different as they cashed in two goals on the man advantage.
- Not to be outdone, the penalty killers put the work in as well and killed off all three penalties the team took. Very nice.
THE FACE PALMERS
- We were wondering when we’d see a lacrosse style goal at Rogers Place, but unfortunately, it was Filip Forsberg that got the job done as he pulled off the new ‘soup du jours’ move against Smith to tie the game up at one apiece. I want to hate this goal but I just can’t. If I am going to complain about it, the problem I have with Forsberg’s goal is that we’ll have to keep seeing it come up on highlight reels for the rest of the season.
- Colin Blackwell gave Nashville the lead (2-1) after Darnell Nurse gave the puck up on a tough exit pass that was intercepted, turned around, and walked through the Oilers’ lacklustre defending. The Predators dissected the Oilers’ lacklustre defending and it was not a great look, to say the least. Gross.
- Am I going to complain about winning only 40% of the faceoffs? Yes. Why? Because I’m consistent. That’s why.
- I know this has nothing to do with the hockey game but having your car break down when it’s -35 is some serious bullshit. It’s all good, the repair was relatively minor, and it’s getting fixed up but I’m going to complain anyway. Thank you.
- Seriously, though, this weather is bullshit.
|09:01||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (46)||0-1|
|10:42||Nashville||Filip Forsberg (16) ASST: Matt Duchene (21)||1-1|
|15:41||Nashville||Colin Blackwell (2) ASST: Nick Bonino (12), Yannick Weber (2)||2-1|
|19:42||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (26) ASST: Alex Chiasson (10), Connor McDavid (47)||2-2|
|09:09||Edmonton||Josh Archibald (5) ASST: Connor McDavid (48), Oscar Klefbom (23)||2-3|
|19:11||Edmonton||EN – PPG – Leon Draisaitl (27) ASST: Connor McDavid (49)||2-4|
Not to worry tonight. If there is a goaltending problem this evening I will be in the building. Maybe not the goalie you need, but the goalie you deserve.
— oldgoalie (@JoaquinGage31) January 15, 2020
Hey #Oilers twitter, I have a challenge for you:
In response to Flames fans buying a billboard, I’ve decided to donate to one of their local charities in honour of @zkassian9! I chose @BrownBaggingIt so that kids can get a proper meal and grow up to be tougher than Tkachuk. pic.twitter.com/q83tmNeNND
— Sam (@SamInYEG) January 14, 2020
They just played BEPs Pump It…. *Has flashback* *cries*
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) January 15, 2020
Two and a Half Men
— Christian Pagnani (@chrispagnani) January 15, 2020
THE EDMONTON OILERS WIN AND QUITE FRANKLY ARE THE HOTTEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!
— 𝗔𝗱𝗮𝗺 (@OilersAdam) January 15, 2020
No beets for you! pic.twitter.com/iIjJFp6JiQ
— Broken Resolutions Kevin (@sportsjunkie007) January 15, 2020
Hide in your shell, tiny turtle. This limited edition design is available here.