TWO. HUGE. POINTS. Final Score: 2-1 Oilers in OT
After last night’s complete dismantling of the Nashville Predators, I was curious to see what the Oilers had left for an encore. It’s not often that you see your team put up eight goals, especially against a team that has owned them for years, and I was really hoping that they had some offence left in the tank for a repeat performance against the Stars. Currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, the Stars are playing some rock solid hockey right now and it was going to be another huge challenge for our boys to shut them down and leave the American Airlines Center with another two points in tow. Not only are these points incredibly important in terms of the standings, but a win would also go a long way to quieting the demons created by those losses to Dallas back in the 90s and early 2000s. A lot of you may have forgotten but I certainly haven’t.
Coming into the second game of a back-to-back set, it was going to be crucial for the Oilers to settle in as quickly as possible and for Mikko Koskinen to stand tall in the face of any early onslaughts the Stars threw his way. Thankfully, the big Finn was ready to go because the team in front of him certainly did not look like they were. Whether they were tired or Dallas was just that fired up was immaterial, the fact that Edmonton was able to make it through the opening frame without allowing a goal against had to be considered a victory. Heading into the second, it was safe to say that the Oilers needed to be better in basically every aspect of their game if they were going to make some noise. I know that running with the rope-a-dope is a bold strategy but it only works if you throw a couple of counterpunches every now and then, ya know? The good news is that the counterpunch came in the form of a powerplay goal that not only gave Edmonton the lead but also swung the momentum in their favour for a little bit. I mean, it wasn’t for very long, Dallas’ attack was relentless all night, but it was enough to give Koskinen a breather, at least.
Heading into the third period up by a goal, the Oilers needed to do everything they could to prevent the Stars from owning the play at even strength while also finding ways to maintain some offensive zone pressure of their own. Had it not been for Koskinen then this game would have probably been over in the first period, and I was hoping that his teammates would be able to provide him with a little bit of run support like they did for Smith 24 hours earlier. Unfortunately, rather than putting up goals on the board the Oilers continued their parade to the penalty box and gave the Stars the opportunity they needed to tie the game up, a result that seemed inevitable based on how often the boys were playing with fire. Despite the late goal against, Edmonton didn’t break, continued to get stellar goaltending, and was able to get the game to OT where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins weaved a little bit of puck magic in the offensive zone that drew a penalty that resulted in the game winner. It may not have been the prettiest win we’ll ever see, but they all count and no two points were bigger than these ones.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring with one of his patented low wrist shots to the blocker side that seem to be giving every goalie in the NHL fits right now and my body is here for it. Up until that point, the Oilers looked like they were spinning their wheels and RNH’s 20th goal of the season could not have come at a better time. RNH finished the game with two points which gives him eight in his last three games. Just ridiculous. #KeepNugeForever
- Alex Chiasson closed the game out with a powerplay goal in overtime after picking up the puck on the side boards and beating Khudobin cleanly between the glove and body. At first, I thought Chiasson was going to try and pass over to Draisaitl but he had enough time and space to make a sandwich and he used to it to burry his first goal in what seems like forever.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 31st start of the season tonight and was tasked with outduelling Anton Khudobin to extend the Oilers’ winning streak to three games. To put it lightly, Koskinen was absolutely fantastic tonight and a huge reason that his team wasn’t down by a goal or three before the first period had even ended. From the opening puck drop to the final buzzer, the big Finn provided the kind of foundation his team needed just to stay alive let alone compete for the win and that’s all you could really ask of the guy. Simply put, he was fantastic. Koskinen finished the night with 42 saves and a .977 save%.
- It was a monster game for Darnell Nurse tonight as he finished with 30:50 in TOI, an assist, three shots on goal, and three blocks. I know that Nurse has been a divisive player around here lately and there’s no doubt that he’s playing too many minutes with Klefbom out, but he’s been busting his ass out there and I thought it deserved a little bit of love.
- Are you surprised that Leon Draisaitl added another point to his totals? You’re not, are you? Give him the Hart!
- James Neal made his return to the lineup for the first time since January 29th, and I was very interested to see how Tippett would mix him into the lineup. Even though he started on the fourth line, I thought that he had some jump to his game and was able to produce some fine offensive chances for himself and his linemates.
- The Oilers’ PK came up huge again tonight as they killed off five of six chances against. Had it not been for the fine work of the PK crew then this thing could have really gotten out of hand.
- Not to be outdone, the powerplay game up with two goals on five chances, including the game winner by Chiasson in OT. Special teams are life, people!
THE FACE PALMERS
- John Klingberg tied the game at one apiece on the Stars’ fifth powerplay chance of the night and it seemed like a matter of time before it was going to happen. The Oilers just could not stay out of the box and it was an extremely frustrating way to give up the lead.
- The Oilers did not play very well at 5-on-5 and it was tough to watch. I know they played last night but they never really looked like they were able to get their legs going, giving the Stars way more time and space than they should have. That said, it was clear that they were gassed after last night’s game in Nashville and the fact that they were able to pull out the win was a testament to their resilience, and more importantly, their goaltending.
- I think it’s being fair to say that the refs were garbage for both sides tonight. There were weird makeup calls, non-calls, and everything in between in what was another strange performance by the zebras.
- Jujhar Khaira’s confidence must be nonexistent right now because he was making some really weird choices with the puck. I don’t know how Haas got the hook in his favour (PK probably?) but he struggled again tonight.
- Someone has to remind Andreas Athanasiou that he doesn’t play for the Red Wings anymore. These games mean something, bruh. Now, I’m not saying by any means that we should be piling on the guy, I’m pretty sure he’s playing banged up a little bit, but it is fair to call him out on the holes in his game. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when we were pumped that he had two points in his Oilers debut. Give it time, people.
- The NHL site had the giveaways listed as 17-15 for the Oilers but I think that count might be a little bit light. Early on especially, the Oilers were giving up the puck like Oprah handing out Kias.
- Getting outshot 43-27 is not a great look at the best of times. Thankfully, Kostco was ready.
|07:24||Edmonton||PPG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (20) ASST: Darnell Nurse (25), Leon Draisaitl (65)||1-0|
|06:42||Dallas||PPG – John Klingberg (6) ASST: Jamie Benn (20), Alexander Radulov (19)||1-1|
|01:08||Edmonton||PPG – Alex Chiasson (9) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (38), Connor McDavid (63)||2-1|
— Wendy Lam (@WendolynLamchop) March 3, 2020
Or how he smells. Because Cologne.
— gooey (@gooeylife) March 4, 2020
He could punch me square in the face with his patented fist pump celly. Not only would I not be mad, I’d be honoured.
— Chris Dyck (@dyckster10) March 4, 2020
Ah dang, another powerplay point for Draisaitl. It’s too bad those don’t count
— Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) March 4, 2020
This game is taking me back to my hatred of the Stars in elementary school when the Oilers played them in the playoffs every year.
— Eric Friesen 🏒 (@EricJFriesen) March 4, 2020
You know Lindell was going to go after the Oiler who pushed him until he realized it was Kassian 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/fZs2fG1yFW
— Nahreman Issa (@NahremanIssaCTV) March 4, 2020
You lie in caps
— Ty Jones (@tyjones01) March 4, 2020
Ineligible points though because he plays with Draisaitl.
— Dennis (@3SonsAndNoTime) March 4, 2020
How could we not? Get your F**king Phenomenal tee exclusively at NationGear.ca