Leon Draisaitl, future MVP. Final Score: 8-3 Oilers
After Saturday’s huge win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Oilers had yet another opportunity to put some ground between themselves and the teams chasing behind, including the Nashville Predators. Not only is first place separated from fourth in the Pacific Division by only six points but the two Wildcard spots are right in that same mix as well, which tells me that there are no acceptable losses anymore. Regardless of whatever injuries or struggles your team is dealing with, you have to find a way to win and it was up to the Oilers do exactly that tonight against a Predators team that has been playing some really good hockey of late. As always, the first step was going to be getting a good start and making sure that they were engaged and had their legs moving.
Right from the opening faceoff, both teams were working hard to produce offence and even had some decent chances on net, but it was the Edmonton Oilers that were to find the back of the net first. At the other end, Mike Smith was called upon to make some big saves and he was up for the challenge, which opened the door for his teammates to cash in another goal and extend their lead to two. Heading into the second period, the only change that the Oilers needed to make was to stay out of the penalty box, but aside from that, they had to keep doing everything that was working for them in the first. Instead, they took the opposite approach and allowed two quick goals within the first three minutes of the period and watched their lead disappear like it was Keyser Soze. And while Edmonton was able to regain the lead shortly after on a goal by Kailer Yamamoto, the advantage didn’t last long as the Predators’ resilience came through once more as they were able to tie the game for a second time.
Heading into the third period with the score tied at three apiece, the Oilers had to do a much better job of puck management because they were gifting the Predators with chances that they had no business getting. Had it not been for a few costly gaffs, there’s no way that this game would have been tied at three. The good news was that the boys clearly felt the same way as they came out firing in the third like it was the end of Scarface. I mean, how else can you describe a five-goal third period that not only won them the game but also completely humiliated their opponent and crowd? It was beautiful in every single way! Sweet mercy, what a finish for another massive regulation win.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Josh Archibald opened the scoring for the Oilers after parking himself in front of the net with his stick on the ice and smashing home the perfect pass fed to him by Tyler Ennis. Leading up to the goal, that whole first line was moving the puck sensationally well down low and the Predators had no answer for them until they were eventually fishing it out of the back of the net. Back to Archibald, how can you not love this dude?
- Leon Draisaitl added to the Oilers’ lead (2-0) in the dying moments of the first period with a one-timer from a horrible angle that beat Rinne from near the goal line. I don’t know how this goal went in but I’m certainly not going to complain about it. Only 35 seconds after McDavid gave the team the 4-3 lead, Draisaitl extended it to two goals (5-3) after a beautiful play from Yamamoto in tight that left Rinne sprawling and gave Leon a wide open net to tap the puck into. Draisaitl completed the hat trick shortly after as he, once again, showed the NHL that he’s simply impossible to stop right now. Think he was done there? Hell no, son. Draisaitl added a fourth goal (8-3) on the powerplay to not only get Rinne pulled but also to break the hearts of every Predators fan in attendance. Dude is a warlord.
- Kailer Yamamoto restored the Oilers’ lead (3-2) after a wonderful passing play from Draisaitl to Nugent-Hopkins to Yam that left him open at the side of the net where he chipped the puck over Rinne on the short side. I was pumped to see that Yamamoto was back in the lineup because that second line just wasn’t the same without him. Yeah, Nuge and Draisaitl combined for the game winner against the Jets on Saturday but they didn’t look nearly as dangerous with Yamo out.
- Connor McDavid gave the Oilers’ their third lead of the evening (4-3) after carrying the puck out towards the blue line and throwing a wrister towards the net through traffic. McDavid finished the night with five points, giving him 13 since coming back from his quad injury which is an absolutely ridiculous pace.
- Zack Kassian scored his first goal since coming back from the suspension after McDavid found him in the high slot where he was able to rip a wrist shot through Rinne and into the back of the net.
- Was anyone surprised that Mike Smith got the start tonight after the incredible performance he put in against the Jets on Saturday? You’re not, are you? Of course not. And while I think Smith would probably want to have that first goal back, he was very good outside of that and it was nice to see the boys give him a little run support to back him up for the fine work he’s been putting down in net since January. Smith finished the night with 27 saves and a .900 save%.
- How about back-to-back three-point nights for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? We should probably #KeepNugeForever, yeah?
- I love the way Caleb Jones plays and I’m super excited to see how continues to grow as time moves on. Tonight, he played 21:48 and eas very effective moving the puck up ice.
- It was another big night for the Oilers’ PK as they handled both chances they faced, and I don’t think I have to tell anyone here how important that was.
- Not to be outdone, the Oilers scored a powerplay goal on the lone chance they had to complete the special teams sweep.
- Speaking of sweeps, the Oilers swept the season series with Nashville and are now within two points of the Vegas Golden Knights.
- Nothing to do with tonight’s game, but I still wanted to thank everyone again that came with us down to Vegas last week. Truly incredible.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Roman Josi pulled the game to within a single goal (2-1) in the opening moments of the second period with a blast from the point that Mike Smith has to have.
- Only 14 seconds after Josi got the Predators on the board, Calle Jarnkrok tied the game at two apiece (2-2) after finding himself alone in front of the net with all kinds of time and space to smash home the centering pass. Ethan Bear thought the puck was going behind the net so he dropped back to retrieve it which gave Jarnkrok enough room in front of the net for Step Brothers style activities.
- Only moments after the Oilers regained the lead, Nick Bonino tied the game up at three apiece on a rebound after the Predators moved the puck around Edmonton’s zone effectively before firing it towards the net.
- I thought the Oilers had very poor puck management in the second period which was basically the only reason the Predators were able to crawl back into this game. Had it not been for this erasable mistakes, then this thing probably finished at 8-1.
- I’m sure he’s a really nice dude, but that Brett Kissel segment during the second period where they were talking about his album rather than the game was all kinds of irritating.
- Meaningful games in March are stressful, man, and this is only the beginning of what will surely be an intense month for the Edmonton Oilers.
|06:23||Edmonton||Josh Archibald (11) ASST: Tyler Ennis (21), Connor McDavid (59)||1-0|
|19:31||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (40) ASST: Connor McDavid (60), Ethan Bear (16)||2-0|
|02:14||Nashville||Roman Josi (16) ASST: Kyle Turris (20), Mikael Granlund (13)||2-1|
|02:28||Nashville||Calle Jarnkrok (14) ASST: Matt Duchene (28)||2-2|
|13:34||Edmonton||Kailer Yamamoto (10) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (35), Leon Draisaitl (64)||3-2|
|15:05||Nashville||Nick Bonino (18) ASST: Craig Smith (12), Rocco Grimaldi (21)||3-3|
|04:42||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (32) ASST: Josh Archibald (8), Darnell Nurse (22)||4-3|
|05:17||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (41) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (13), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (36)||5-3|
|07:03||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (15) ASST: Connor McDavid (61), Darnell Nurse (23)||6-3|
|08:28||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (42) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (37)||7-3|
|09:55||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (43) ASST: Connor McDavid (62), Darnell Nurse (24)||8-3|
only 36 back!
— Griffin? (@GPosynick) March 3, 2020
Josh Archibald also sings in Muse pic.twitter.com/h2Bei83m1d
— Rick 🅙 (@ohyeahitsrick) March 3, 2020
Gene shows great restraint in not asking Roman Josi about Brett Kissel’s new CD.
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) March 3, 2020
Let Ryan Smyth talk for 20 minutes over the broadcast.
— Carly Dermott (@carlydermott) March 3, 2020
— #L39N (@KayleLeonard77) March 3, 2020
Safeway demanding the Oilers get Leon off the ice so they don’t have to pay somebody $1 million pic.twitter.com/XZLCvlrV3A
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) March 3, 2020
How could we not? The dude is on a heater to end all heaters, and that calls for a t-shirt. Get your MVP tee exclusively at NationGear.ca