Comeback boys! Final Score: 3-2 Oilers
After looking like world beaters against the Blues and Flames, the Edmonton Oilers put forth a couple of lacklustre efforts against the Coyotes and Sharks that put them on a two-game losing streak that should probably never have happened. Both of those teams were missing important roster players due to injury, but our boys weren’t able to take advantage. Against the Preds, the Oilers needed to come up with a much better effort from the crease on out if they were going to get back in the win column and tuck two very important points in the bank. From the stands to the Internet, we all knew how important this game was, but it was up to the team to figure it out on the ice. We were also going to see how the team would respond to getting chewed out by Dave Tippett yesterday at practice, reportedly because they weren’t focused on giving their best there either. It goes without saying that this isn’t exactly a great look for a team in the midst of a two-game slide.
With the pressure to get back in the win column certainly piling up, the Oilers needed to get a good start and give themselves the best chance to make that happen. And while I wouldn’t say that they necessarily played poorly, the Oilers certainly didn’t look as sharp as they were at this point a week ago. Whether it was in their own end or Nashville’s, the boys struggled to put passes together and the lack of puck management gave the Predators more possession time than they probably deserved. In the second period, it was then that the Oilers started to settle in and play a little bit tighter but they still struggled to manufacture legitimate scoring chances. I don’t know whether they were trying to force plays or what, but it was a battle to get sustained pressure in the offensive zone or to generate quality chances on net. Had it not been for the late (lucky) goal by Chiasson, the Oilers would have gone into the third period down by two goals at a time when they really seemed to be struggling to find the back of the net.
Heading into the third period down by a goal, the Oilers needed to build on that late goal while also keeping it tight in their own zone. As if they were reading my mind, the Oilers opened up the period with an early goal that tied the game at two and set them up to grab at least a point that may have seemed unlikely even 15 minutes earlier. With the momentum on their side, the Oilers completed the comeback with a timely powerplay goal which gave them a lead that they would not relinquish. Based on the first 35 minutes or so, I don’t know how many of us would have seen this coming? It may not have been the prettiest game we’ll ever watch, trailing 2-0 near the end of the second period put a lot of us in a dark place, but you have to appreciate the way they kept in the fight and battled their way back. All I know for sure is that this was a huge win for the Oilers and one that they definitely needed after a pair of ugly losses earlier in the week.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Alex Chiasson got the Oilers on the board (2-1) after Connor McDavid fired a wrist shot at Saros that bounced off the goaltender and took a couple of bounces before winding up in the back of the net. Up until that puck went in, the Predators looked like they’d be heading into the third period up by two goals and it was a late bit of luck that got the Oilers back in the game.
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game up at two apiece after taking a beautiful pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in full flight and ripping a snapshot past Saros low to the glove side. Draisaitl added a powerplay goal later on in the third (3-2) period after Nuge found him again with a perfectly placed cross-ice pass that the big man made no mistake of roofing over Saros’ shoulder.
- Mike Smith got his first start in net since the melee in Calgary that saw him dummy former friend, Cam Talbot, and I was hoping that he’d be able to pick right back up where he left off. To his credit, Smith battled all night long and provided the kind of goaltending his team needed to not only stay in the fight but battle their way back into what was almost an unlikely victory. Smith finished his day with 27 saves and a .931 save%.
- I have to give my man Ryan Nugent-Hopkins some love for the two ridiculous passes he made to set up Leon Draisaitl for both of his third period goals. RNH was dishing like a wizard on those two plays and he put the puck right in Draisaitl’s wheelhouse both times, which was beautiful to watch and a testament to his puck skills.
- I also want to take a minute to appreciate Ethan Bear. For a rookie, the kid is so smooth with the puck that it makes me excited to see where he’ll be at by the time he’s in his second, third, and fourth NHL seasons. Bear finished the game with 23:25 TOI, one shot on goal, four blocks, and two takeaways.
- A quick point to say how grateful I am that Connor McDavid was okay after crashing into the boards midway through the second period. I know he didn’t miss a shift but my heart still skipped a beat when he went down and it was very nice to see him finish the game. After the game, Dave Tippett said that the captain has a bruise above his knee and had to be iced up. Hopefully, it’s nothing more serious than that.
- How about a little bit of love for the power play after the boys were able to cash in two big goals on four chances with the man advantage. After getting shut out the past couple of nights, the PP came up huge when they needed it the most.
- Not to be outdone, the Oilers did a really nice job on the penalty kill tonight, erasing all three chances they faced.
- You guys know how much I love faceoff wins so I was pretty excited to see that the Oilers won 63% of the draws tonight.
- We’re closing out the regular season in Calgary and you’re all invited to join us! Get details and tickets for the upcoming Nation Road Trip here.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Craig Smith opened the scoring when he found a loose puck in the slot and shovelled it through traffic and past the goaltender. Initially, the Oilers looked like they were in decent defensive shape but they were unable to keep Smith’s stick in check and he found a way to knock the puck past Mike Smith on a shot he certainly would want to have back.
- Nick Bonino put the Preds up by two goals (2-0) late in the second period after he was able to get his stick on a point shot that was making its way towards the net, deflecting perfectly through Mike Smith’s legs and into the back of the net.
- In the second period, Connor McDavid got tied up with Dante Fabbro and went crashing into the boards awkwardly, his knee taking the brunt of the impact. After the sequence, McDavid spent some time testing things out to make sure he was okay but, obviously, all eyes were on him to see if there were any lingering effects.
- Speaking of McDavid’s crash into the boards, I’m not sure what was worse: seeing him go down or having to listen to Drew Remenda blab on and on about it for the next 30 minutes.
- Early on, the Oilers really struggled with putting passes together and it seemed like they were coughing up the puck about as often as they were able to move the thing forward.
- I wonder what’s going on with Zack Kassian right now? Kass went from playing alongside McDavid on the first line to getting only 7:05 worth of ice time on the fourth line. Clearly, Tippett isn’t happy about his game right now and I wonder what’s going on there?
- The NHL site had the giveaways as 20 (Oilers) to 12 (Predators) and I’d guess that the bulk of those came in the early going as the boys seemed to be giving the puck away like Oprah gives away cars.
|12:17||Nashville||Craig Smith (12) ASST: Roman Josi (40), Ryan Johansen (20)||1-0|
|17:06||Nashville||Nick Bonino (17) ASST: Dan Hamhuis (7)||2-0|
|19:51||Edmonton||PPG – Alex Chiasson (8) ASST: Connor McDavid (51), Oscar Klefbom (26)||2-1|
|03:42||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (30) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (24), Kailer Yamamoto (7)||2-2|
|13:02||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (31) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (25), Oscar Klefbom (27)||2-3|
That proud smile on Bear’s face listening to that anthem 😍
— Cummingtonite? (@geology24_7) February 9, 2020
— Canadian Island Gal🇨🇦🇧🇸 (@canadian_gal) February 9, 2020
A knife The puck
in my in our
“AH! AH! GET IT OUT!”
— Alice Moran (@Alice_Moran) February 9, 2020
Hey Drew Remenda how many more times are you going to try and predict a McDavid injury? Ten? Twenty? Maybe if you keep saying it he will get hurt, and then you’ll be able to say you were right.
— Steve Gaetz (@gatekeeper31) February 9, 2020
Oh my god that back hand sauce!!!!!! #NUGE
— Travis Dakin (@TravisDakin) February 9, 2020
I'll say it again, the refs will call McDavid for anything borderline he does, but someone has to tackle him for their arm to go up.
— Eric Friesen 🏒 (@EricJFriesen) February 9, 2020
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should be the first player of note to play his entire career with the Oilers. Full stop. #KeepNugeForever
— Travis Dakin (@TravisDakin) February 9, 2020
WIN A TRIP TO THAILAND
Our friends at Oodle Noodle and AMA Travel want you to win a trip to Thailand! To enter the contest, all you have to do is follow @oodle_noodle and AMATravel on Twitter, share the post, and tag your travel buddy — it’s just that easy! The contest runs from February 1st to March 15th so get your entries in today.