That’s how you win it for Connor, boys! Final Score: 4-1 Oilers
Anyone else love a good matinee? Can’t just be me, right? There’s something about being able to crack a beer at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in the name of watching hockey that really speaks to me, ya know? Now, I’m not talking about getting after it to the point where you’re immobile and lose a day, though, that can be fun too, but rather just having a casual wobbly pop while you watch the boys do their thing. And if I’m being honest, I felt nervous that I was going need a few beers to get through this weekend based on what’s going on with the roster right now. Key injuries and an unfortunate suspension will do that to a person, ya dig? Not to mention, the last time these two teams met up, the Panthers walked away with a one-sided 6-2 win that I was really hoping to not have to relive again. Obviously, the boys seemed to agree and for that reason, I’m very thankful.
In the early going, both teams seemed like they needed a little bit of time to figure the other side out, with choppy back and forth action being the best way to describe it. Thankfully, the Oilers settled in relatively quickly and proceeded to do a fine job of pinning the Panthers in their own zone, and it was almost surprising that they could get anything past Montembeault until late in the frame. As the game progressed through the middle third, the Oilers continued to gain the Panthers’ zone with relative ease and work the cycle effectively down low. Outside of a few shifts here or there where Florida was able to counterpunch a little bit, there weren’t many ‘oh shit’ moments that left you feeling like the game was out of control. The only downside, really, was that the Oilers were unable to tack on another goal or two to extend their lead even though they had plenty of chances to make it happen.
Heading into the third period with a one-goal lead, the Oilers had the opportunity to tuck two big points away in the bank provided they were able to maintain composure and lock things down defensively. With the way they played through 40 minutes, this game truly seemed like it was there for the taking but they were going to need to keep pushing forward in order to close it out. Much to our collective delight, Leon Draisaitl was able to add some insurance in the opening moments of the third period and it was exactly what the boys needed to cap off what was nearly a perfect road game. From start to finish, the Oilers played well in all three zones and it was nice to see them rewarded for being mindful of the details. Those are two huge points right here, my friends.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Adam Larsson got the Oilers on the board late in the first period with a blast from the point that beat Montembeault on the glove side. It was Larsson’s first goal in 59 games and could not have come at a better time, especially since the big Swede has started to play much better over the last month or so.
- Leon Draisaitl extended the lead to two goals (2-0) early in the third period after he was able to find a rebound at the side of the net and bang it into the empty cage. The guy is a warlord and it was no surprise to see him add two more points to his totals as he continues to run away with the NHL’s point lead. I just love watching him play hockey.
- Darnell Nurse restored the Oilers’ two-goal lead (3-1) after he was able to add an empty netter from the other end of the ice, banking the puck into the empty net with a pool type shot that would make even the most passionate billiards fan proud. Nurse hadn’t scored in 12 games and his reaction to cashing this one in was pretty fun to watch.
- Kailer Yamamoto added a second empty net goal (4-1) to give himself the first three point game of his young NHL career, capping off a stellar afternoon for the rookie. Not only did he have a performance to remember, but I also need to give Yamo some love for his relentless puck pursuit on virtually every shift he takes. It’s almost like he gets personally offended when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick and will use every inch of his fun sized body to try and get it back. I love watching him do his thing.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes today for his 29th start (32nd appearance) of the season, and I was looking for him to play more like the way he did against Arizona and St. Louis and less like we saw against San Jose. To his credit, Koskinen was rock solid and provided his team with some very strong goaltending from the opening puck drop to the final buzzer, and he made some monstrous saves to keep his team up on the scoreboard. Koskinen finished the day with 33 saves and a .971 save%.
- When Draisaitl scored at the beginning of the third period, it was the fifth straight goal where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was involved in some capacity. RNH is now on pace for nearly 70 points over a full season which is ridiculous given the disastrous start to the year he had. The dude is on an absolute heater right now and my body is here for it. Toss another two apples on the pile for the white-hot Nugent-Hopkins. #KeepNugeForever
- Tyler Benson was back in the lineup after being recalled earlier this week and I thought he looked much more comfortable than he was in his first two appearances. As the game went on, I thought that Benson started making more and more plays, showcasing his ability to pass the puck and find an open man. To me, this was his best game yet and I look forward to seeing how he progresses as he gets more comfortable out there.
- You have to think that re-signing both Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan has to be on Holland’s to-do list, right? After taking some time to settle in with their new club, both of these guys have been really strong additions to the bottom six and I can’t imagine it’ll be long before they find themselves with contract extensions. Speaking of Riley Sheahan, he played in his 500th NHL game today which is an accomplishment that deserves some love and attention.
- We gotta give some love to the Oilers’ penalty killers as they came up with three massive stops when the team needed them the most.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jonathan Huberdeau pulled the Panthers to within a goal (2-1) after he found a loose puck near the goal line and absolutely roofed it high over Koskinen’s shoulder from a tough angle. Honestly, though, the guy threaded the needle on this one and you have to give him credit for a perfectly placed shot.
- The powerplay continues to struggle with its zone entries with Connor McDavid out of the lineup and I’d love to see some kind of Plan B when it comes to getting the puck deep. The PP went 0/1 on the day and it would have been really nice to see them get something done after giving up a tough shortie to the Lightning on Thursday.
- Am I going to complain about the boys winning only 42% of the faceoffs today? Yes, but I’m not going to make a big deal of it.
- I’m starting to think we may need to make a sacrifice of some kind to save Jujhar Khaira. The dude has absolutely no luck right now and it’s tough to watch.
- I don’t want to start a whole thing with complaining about the refs again, but it is confusing to have no idea what counts as a penalty or not. It seems like the goalposts move on a shift by shift basis and I say that for both sides.
- Game three of the McDavidless era. I don’t like it.
- I also don’t like that I agreed with Evander Kane today but it happened (see his tweet below).
|15:14||Edmonton||Adam Larsson (1) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (28), Kailer Yamamoto (8)||1-0|
|00:13||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (33) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (9), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (29)||2-0|
|08:46||Florida||Jonathan Huberdeau (21) ASST: Aaron Ekblad (27), Aleksander Barkov (40)||2-1|
|18:02||Edmonton||EN – Darnell Nurse (5)||3-1|
|19:14||Edmonton||EN – Kailer Yamamoto (8) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (59)||4-1|
I was at a Panthers game in March of 2018 and I have an everlasting memory of this guy in a college football jersey asking multiple people if Jagr was playing and nobody having an answer. Jagr was out of the league at this point
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) February 15, 2020
MY STATEMENT: pic.twitter.com/taoALpVmvn
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) February 15, 2020
Adam Larsson: 1 goal today
Taylor Hall: 0 goals today#OneForOne
— Toss a coin to your Librarian (@LateFiennes) February 15, 2020
With their breakout game Plong
— Craig Forsberg (@CroggyFoolsberg) February 15, 2020
This kid was not impressed! He does look like he has a little road rash going on there though! pic.twitter.com/5JhlVSGHCW
— ARB (@AdamBodnarchuk) February 15, 2020
"I think I'll just pass this puck between the fore-checker's legs right on Drai's tape while he's in flight" – Caleb Jones pic.twitter.com/zCrMt1Vpha
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) February 15, 2020
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