Why can’t the Oilers beat Minnesota? WHY!? Final Score: 5-3 Wild
I don’t know about you guys, but I felt like this game was incredibly important for the Oilers to win. Not only do they need the points to maintain pace in the Pacific Division, that part is obvious, but they also need to give us all the moral win that comes from beating the Minnesota Wild. So far this season, the Wild have won both games in the season series and outscored the Oilers by a 9-5 margin, which is a tough stat to swallow considering where they’re at in the standings. Coming into tonight’s contest, the Wild were sitting five points out of a Wildcard spot and all I wanted was to see our ragtag skeleton crew put the boots to them and cement their position as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. That wasn’t too much to ask, right? I certainly didn’t think so.
As I say every night, the best thing the Oilers could do to set themselves up for a win was to get off to a quick start, and they executed that plan perfect as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found the back of the net less than a minute after the opening faceoff. The bad news was that the lead didn’t last long as the Wild were able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown, evening up the score on a play that was 1000% avoidable. Think that only happened once? Guess again. The trend of trading goals back and forth continued through 40 minutes as both sides were seemingly able to take advantage of each other’s gaffs, almost as if it was scripted to keep the score as tight as possible even if it probably shouldn’t have been. I’d guess that if you asked the coach for either team, they’d probably say that there were plenty of avoidable moments and it showed on the scoreboard. Had it not been for the goalies, then the score probably could have looked more like a football game rather than a battle between two teams fishing for playoff spots.
Heading into the third period with the game tied at three, the Oilers had the chance to collect at least a point but to do it, they would need to tighten things up defensively in a big way. Unfortunately, the boys didn’t appear to have much gusto in the final frame and were seemingly satisfied with sitting back and waiting for the Wild to turn the puck over, which was a bold plan but probably not the wisest one. As expected, that strategy proved costly as the Wild played with plenty of urgency that the Oilers were simply unable to match and the result was a series sweep that was never all that close. At the end of the day, and as disappointing as it is to admit, Minnesota played much hard than Edmonton did in all three zones and they got the result they probably deserved.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for the Oilers in the opening moments after fired a quick wrister that beat Stalock just inside the post on the blocker side. Yamamoto made a nice little pass to Nuge from hashmarks and RNH had that baby tickling the twine in the blink of an eye. Nuge followed it up with another goal later in the period on a very similar play that saw Yamamoto hit him with a beautiful pass that set him up with time and space to rip a shot on goal. Nuge finished his night with three more points on the pile as he continues to run with this ridiculous heater he’s on.
- Leon Draisaitl restored the Oilers’ lead (3-2) with his 35th goal of the season after getting some incredible luck/a bounce off of a centering pass attempt that somehow bounced into the net off a Wild defender’s skate. I have no idea how this puck wound up in the net, it was the kind of play that only seems to happen in the EA sports world, but I’m certainly not going to complain about it.
- How good was the NuDraMoto line tonight, especially in the early going? That line was lights out and seemingly able to do as they pleased almost every single shift and it was a lot of fun to watch.
- Sticking with that line, how good has Kailer Yamamoto been since being recalled from Bakersfield? From his relentless puck pursuit to the way he makes plays in the offensive zone, Yamamoto has been a mammoth addition to the Oilers’ top six and I cannot wait to see how he continues to progress. The guy seems to be getting better and better and I cannot cheer for him enough. Yamo finished the night with two assists.
- Once again, the Oilers’ PK was fantastic and came up with a pair of huge kills when the team needed them most. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft Tippett has cast upon this team to turn the special teams around, but I’m ready and willing to bow to his dark arts at any time.
- The Oilers won 58% of the faceoffs tonight but even that can’t make me feel better.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Kevin Fiala tied the game up at one apiece after the Oilers couldn’t clear their zone, gave up the puck, and fell apart defensively in the moments that followed. It was a comedy of errors and shoddy defending that culminated in a greasy goal against that was entirely preventable. Gross.
- Carson Soucy tied the game up for the second time as he through a wrist shot through traffic that beat Koskinen high on the glove side. In my opinion, this was a shot that Koskinen had to stop and it certainly didn’t help the glove hand concerns that many Oilers have regarding their starter.
- After another blown clearing attempt, the Wild were able to maintain the offensive zone, get their cycle going, and tie the game up for a third time (3-3) when Jared Spurgeon took a pass at the side of the net and blasted a slapshot past Koskinen low to the blocker side. Spurgeon added a second goal (4-3) midway through the third period after he threw a backhand towards the net from the corner and had it deflect in off of Adam Larsson’s stick. Spurgeon completed the hat trick at the end of the third period with an empty net goal that put the final nail in the coffin.
- Josh Archibald temporarily left the game in the first period after taking an unfortunate elbow to the mouth from Carson Soucy (that went uncalled btw) and did not return until midway through the second period, narrowly avoiding the pile of injured players that the Oilers are forced to battle through right now.
- Sticking with injuries/guys getting banged up, Sam Gagner left the game in the second period after taking a high hit that clearly left him shaken and in distress. Fortunately, Gagner was able to get back into the game but he was not having fun there for a minute.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 30th start of the season and looking to build upon a strong performance against the Florida Panthers last Saturday night. In that game, Koskinen was rock solid and steady from the moment the puck dropped and the Oilers were going to need that again against a Wild team that has stolen their lunch money far too often than any of us would like. Unfortunately, that trend continued tonight despite Koskinen making plenty of big saves that kept his team in the mix, but it wasn’t enough to get them a point. Kostco finished the night with 34 saves and a .895 save%.
- I don’t want to pile on a guy that’s struggling but I have to mention how rough Jujhar Khaira has looked over the past few months. He just doesn’t seem to have much confidence with the puck right now, and while his PK work is still stellar, he’s not getting anything done at the other end of the ice.
- I’m no mathematician but I can tell you that getting outshot 39-26 is a tough way to win the hockey game.
- The Oilers went 0/2 on the powerplay and that is not at all surprising to anyone that watch this game. They were completely out of sorts with the man advantage tonight.
- Tonight was game six without Connor McDavid as a result of his quad injury and I still don’t like it. The good news is that it looks like he’ll be joining the Oilers on their upcoming California road trip and that we have a decent chance of watching him play when we take our #NationVacation down to Vegas for the game on Wednesday.
|00:50||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (16) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (10), Ethan Bear (15)||0-1|
|08:25||Minnesota||Kevin Fiala (16) ASST: Ryan Suter (33)||1-1|
|13:04||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (17) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (11), Leon Draisaitl (62)||1-2|
|05:48||Minnesota||Carson Soucy (7) ASST: Mats Zuccarello (19), Alex Galchenyuk (13)||2-2|
|08:01||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (35) ASST: Matt Benning (7), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (31)||2-3|
|10:55||Minnesota||Jared Spurgeon (8) ASST: Alex Galchenyuk (14), Victor Rask (8)||3-3|
|10:07||Minnesota||Jared Spurgeon (9) ASST: Ryan Suter (34), Zach Parise (16)||4-3|
|18:22||Minnesota||EN – Jared Spurgeon (10) ASST: Eric Staal (25)||5-3|
ATTN Citizens heading to Vegas for next week’s game (and those who didn’t get a chance to join us on the trip down)
Watch party @PBRRockBar starting at 6:30pm.
ALL ARE WELCOME.
(Also if you booked a trip with us, please make check your email that you purchased with) pic.twitter.com/7io9RKAsZ5
— Oilersnation (@OilersnationHQ) February 21, 2020
— Real Steal 18 (@RPW_1832) February 22, 2020
Goal from the guy who should have been ejected
— Arch (@Archaeologuy) February 22, 2020
He should imagine the puck is a beef n' ched and the goal your mouth.
— Colin Stuckless (@ColinStuckless) February 22, 2020
THE OFFICIATING IS SO BAD THAT REMENDA IS DEFENDING THE OILERS
— Brian King (Self-Proclaimed Kinger) (@Kinger999) February 22, 2020
Can somebody make a run to Shoppers for a pregnancy test? The refs missed a period.
— Alice Moran (@Alice_Moran) February 22, 2020
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