That third period was un-flushable. Final Score: 6-4 Jets
On Sunday night, the Oilers won the first game of their mini-series against the Jets in one of the most dramatic fashions that any of us could have imagined, and I was hopeful that the excitement from that buzzer-beating finish would carry over into the rematch. In my head, I thought that grinding out a big comeback win as they did on night one would give the boys the confidence they needed to take the rematch, get back to a .500 record and, as a result, start turning this ship around. The Oilers have been playing a tighter brand of hockey over their past few outings and I thought that sweeping their first series of the season would be a nice confirmation of what I was seeing and that my brain isn’t lying to me. That’s not too much to ask, right?
Supporting my dream of an Oilers series sweep was a trio of first period goals — including two beauties on the powerplay — that felt like what I imagine those rose kisses that Seal kept talking about would feel like. Sure, we could complain that the Jets were able to get two of those goals back, but I’m choosing to give the team some love for getting a pair of Ginos from its struggling special teams while also finishing the period up on the scoreboard? Was it perfect? No. Nowhere close. In fact, the goaltending was suspect and making me nervous, but I was choosing to look at the bright side, alright? As the game moved through the second period and into the intermission, each side continued to generate an array of offensive chances of varying quality, but unlike what we saw in the opening frame, neither club was able to convert. While everything was going in the net early, nothing beat the goaltenders in the second.
Up by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers had a chance to leave Winnipeg with four points in tow and I feel like both of those facts really seemed a sundae with the cherry on top. To make it happen, all the boys really had to do was stay composed, keep the Jets to the outside of the ice, and get the saves they needed to nail the coffin shut, but that is nothing close to what actually happened. Instead, the Oilers looked like they decided to simply sit on the lead and try to ride the clock out rather than ice the game with more offence going up on the board. The result, unfortunately, was three unanswered goals for the Jets in a span of only 3:27 and all of a sudden, what looked like four points in Winnipeg after 40 minutes ends up in a disappointing conclusion to what was a very important road trip. For as positive as I was about the way this game started, I was equally disheartened by the way it ended.
That, my friends, was a tough way to lose.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring early (1-0) with a powerplay goal after the reigning MVP broke into the zone with some speed down the wing where he elected to shoot, beating Hellebuyck with a quick wrister through the legs. That marker put Draisaitl on a four-game goal-scoring streak and it looks like the dude hasn’t missed a step after finishing up last season with all kinds of hardware.
- How many of you had Adam Larsson to score a big goal (2-1) with a wrister from the point after the heat he’s taken on social media and in the comments section lately? Show yourselves, doubters! *raises hand*
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins extended the Oilers’ lead to two goals (3-1) on the powerplay with a perfectly sniped shot that beat Hellebuyck high over the blocker. Frankly, RNH put that puck in a spot that the goaltender had no chance of stopping and it seems like my dude’s game is starting to come around quite nicely. Nuge finished the night with two points.
- With a 1:50 left to play and his team down by two goals, Connor McDavid picked up his fifth goal of the season (5-4) on an absolute laser beam of a shot that beat Hellebuyck before he even knew that the puck was shot. Hasn’t it been fun to see McDavid’s game ramp up as the season has progressed? With the rust starting to fall off, the dude has started to take over shifts and games with his speed and skill, making his gradual (and inevitable) ascent to supernova status incredibly fun to watch. I know he only had one point on the night but I thought he looked great and was setting his teammates up with gifts that they need to find a way to bear down on.
- We all know that the powerplay hasn’t been great so far this year, but that was not the case tonight. On this night, the boys were moving the puck around effectively, producing different types of chances that kept the Jets guessing, and more importantly, found a way to get two goals past Hellebuyck on two chances with the man advantage.
- Kailer Yamamoto is like the Little Engine that Could and I will never tire of pumping his tires and singing his praises from the rooftops. Despite being fun-sized, the dude plays with the heart of 1000 Vikings and I will forever be in his corner for as long as he keeps it up.
- I’m going to give Darnell Nurse some love for the three-point night, but not for the -3 that was beside his name when the game ended.
- I thought that Caleb Jones was quietly steady on the third pairing and I wonder if it was enough to get him another game on Friday. Personally, I was surprised that Koekkoek came out — is he hurt? — but it was nice to see Jones fill in as well as he did in the 14:08 worth of ice time he got.
- Tyler Ennis cleared waivers this morning and it makes me happy to see. Having more quality depth than you need at any given time is incredibly important.
- Less than five minutes after Draisaitl opened the scoring, Andrew Copp tied the game (1-1) with a powerplay goal of his own after he crashed the crease and hacked away at the loose puck that made its way across the line. The real problem I had with the goal was the lazy penalty that Darnell Nurse to give Winnipeg the man advantage in the first place. Copp added an empty netter in the dying moments of the game to close things out.
- Mathieu Perreault trimmed Edmonton’s lead to a single goal (3-2) after scoring in the moments that followed a powerplay and just before the Oilers could get re-settled.
- Nikolaj Ehlers remains red hot — he now has goals in five straight games — and tied the game at three apiece in the early moments of the third period after being the business end of a beautiful passing play that got the Oilers all twisted up on themselves. Ehlers finished the night with four points.
- Paul Statsny grabbed the Jets their first lead of the night (4-3) when he chipped a loose puck up and over Koskinen from right in front of the crease.
- Only moments after Statsny’s goal, Adam Lowry gave the Jets some insurance (5-3) with another goal I thought was entirely avoidable and one that nearly made me throw my laptop at the TV.
- Allowing four third-period goals is simply unforgivable. Good Gord.
- Mikko Koskinen got his eighth straight start of the campaign, and I was incredibly curious to see whether he’d follow up Sunday’s stellar start with another quality performance. Unfortunately, this was not Mikko’s night as he could not stop the wheels from falling off once they had already started. Through 40 minutes, I thought Koskinen was pretty solid, but with a big win on the line, he just couldn’t shut the door and keep the Jets off the board. Koskinen finished the night with 27 saves and a .842 save%.
- The Oilers were heavily outshot (33-25) and it’s a trend that is really starting to bum me out. I don’t know what it is about this team that makes them refuse to shoot pucks at the net but it’s a
- I feel like Dominik Kahun is too talented to have not scored a goal. If the random street sacrifices to the Hockey Gords aren’t working then we’re going to have to come up with a new plan because this guy really needs to get going.
- I was happy to see Jujhar Khaira get back in the lineup before it started but I don’t know that he didn’t enough to hang onto that spot when Thursday’s game rolls around.
- I didn’t like hearing that Evan Bouchard has some kind of back issue going on, and I really hope it’s nothing serious as we’ve already seen what’s happened to Larsson when his back seizes up.
Can’t get out to walk the Malls to stay loose in the pandemic
— Surveyor Brett (@BLuchanski) January 26, 2021
Now outscoring Hall 😏
— fraser burns (@NonfatYumrocket) January 27, 2021
Turris’s “also in the photo”/60 is disturbingly high.
— Kerry McGowan (@306Kerosene) January 27, 2021
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins loves keeping things the same. The man doesn’t age, he scores on the same sneaky wrist shot and celebrates with a fist pump after every goal. Love Nuge. #KeepNugeForever
— Adam (@OilersAdam) January 27, 2021
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