Two more points on the pile! Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
Since the Oilers have only made the playoffs once over the past 100 years, I’ve forgotten how stressful it is to scoreboard watch every night. Normally in February, we’re all spending time looking at draft odds and prospect profiles and while it’s infinitely better to be in the mix for a playoff spot, it’s also a lot tougher on the ol’ heart. Every night feels like a must-win situation even though we’re not really there yet, and each loss feels like it’s going to be the one that sends the team spiralling downward. Meaningful games in February, amirite? I think we can all agree that it’s much better to be in this position over the one we were at this time a year ago. Now, all we need is for the boys to hold up their end of the bargain and keep winning games so that we can get back into the dance to try and make some noise. That all said, we still have to take things day by day and the next step towards achieving our goal was beating the Los Angeles Kings.
In the early going, both teams looked like they needed some time to settle into their gameplan before being able to generate basically anything offensively. While the play was fairly fluid back and forth from zone to zone, neither side generated much in terms of legitimate chances to score nor were they even throwing many shots on net. Put another way, it was a fairly choppy opening. But just when I thought I was going to have to write about the Oilers have a disappointing start against a tired and depleted opponent, the dynamic duo connected on a goal in the dying moments of the first period that give the boys a lead. Heading into the second period, the Oilers had to do what they could to add some insurance and extend their lead, which was exactly what they were able to do with a pair of goals to build themselves a sizeable lead. Even when the Kings scored to bring themselves to within two, it never really seemed like the Oilers were in any danger of losing control.
Heading into the third period up by two goals, I felt like Edmonton just needed to continue with the way they were playing and it would be more than enough to close out the win. Unfortunately, the Kings were able to pull themselves to within a single goal in the opening seconds of the period after the Oilers gave up an odd-man rush that LA was able to convert perfectly. After settling things down again, the visitors got back to pushing the pace and throwing pucks on net, stifled only by a strong performance from Calvin Petersen who kept the score closer than it should have been. At the end of the day, this was a game that the Oilers had to have and they accomplished the goal by defeating a team that they have to beat more often than not. Two big points to kick off the road trip.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers with a powerplay goal after connecting with McDavid on a wonderful passing play in the high slot that resulted in Drai being set up with a one-timer that he ripped past Petersen and into the top of the net.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continued his hot streak with his third goal in his last two games after he slid into the high slot and perfectly deflected Caleb Jones’ point shot past Petersen on the blocker side, extending the Oilers’ lead to two (2-0).
- After six games on the shelf with a quad injury, Connor McDavid was back in the lineup tonight and he didn’t waste much time before getting himself back on the scoresheet as he scored an absolute beauty in the second period (3-0) that saw him make 63 dekes before leaving Petersen’s jock up in the stands. Unsurprisingly, McDavid put up another casual three-point night in his first game back from injury which is just ridiculous to think about, especially since he probably could have had an additional two or three points with a little bit of luck. Man, I missed him.
- Josh Archibald is the king of empty netters (4-2)!
- Mike Smith got his 32nd start of the season tonight and the Oilers needed him to be at his best to make sure that they got themselves back in the win column. And as he’s done for basically all of 2020 so far, Smith provided the kind of goaltending you need from your starter and it was the stability the boys needed to close out the win. Smith finished the night with 21 saves and a .913 save%.
- Big shout out to Caleb Jones for registering the first two-point game of his young NHL career. I don’t know about you guys, but Jones has done a very nice job of sliding up into the top four with Klefbom out and he’s going to force some very interesting decisions in the offseason.
- I’m really interested to see what Ethan Bear’s extension looks like this summer because he’s quickly developing into one of the best defencemen that this team has to offer. From the way he moves the puck to the nice little stick checks he uses in his own zone, Bear has been one of the best stories of the season and it’s not even close.
- The Oilers’ powerplay came through for them tonight with a huge goal (1/2) that they obviously needed to close this game out.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Anze Kopitar got the Kings on the board (3-1) with a powerplay goal from the right side of the net that beat Smith high on the blocker side. It was one of those goals where Kopitar was in the right place at the right time when the puck came to him, and he made no mistake of burying the chance.
- Dustin Brown pulled the Kings back to within a single goal (3-2) after he ripped a perfectly placed wrist shot high over Smith’s glove.
- Kailer Yamamoto got tied up in the corner in the first period and took an awkward spill that saw him landing awkwardly on his left ankle. He wasn’t on the bench to start the second period, but he did end up making his way back out for a regular shift which is obviously great news.
- The Oilers didn’t get any luck on the scoreboard tonight as both Calgary and Vegas won their respective games.
- Am I going to complain about winning only 45% of the faceoffs? Yes, but I won’t make a big deal of it.
- Why did the Oilers trade for Mike Green? I have to admit that I don’t get this one. Right now, the Oilers RHD is Bear, Larsson, and Benning so I’m not sure where Green fits in unless another defenceman is on the move. I’m not complaining at all, I just don’t understand the logic right now. We wait…
- I know it’s not even that late but 8pm starts are bullshit.
|19:29||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (36) ASST: Connor McDavid (52), Caleb Jones (4)||1-0|
|05:27||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18) ASST: Caleb Jones (5), Kailer Yamamoto (12)||2-0|
|16:14||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (31) ASST: Patrick Russell (5)||3-0|
|18:39||Los Angeles||PPG – Anze Kopitar (18) ASST: Alex Iafallo (22), Adrian Kempe (17)||3-1|
|00:49||Los Angeles||Dustin Brown (13) ASST: Adrian Kempe (18)||3-2|
|19:10||Edmonton||EN – Josh Archibald (10) ASST: Connor McDavid (53), Riley Sheahan (7)||4-2|
— Hank (@take_it2theHank) February 24, 2020
Dude is going to ONLY have 100 points in february. Imagine of he tried or smiled more
— dangersuede esq. (@dangersuede) February 24, 2020
Do you think it'll be a problem in future relationships that I will never love my partner as much as I love Nuge?
— Alice Moran (@Alice_Moran) February 24, 2020
Dustin Brown has instructions for his shoes.
— Nic Bakker (@BassicNic) February 24, 2020
Nerd doesn’t even watch the games!
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) February 24, 2020
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