More games like that, please. I had fun. Thank you. Final Score: 8-5 Oilers.
In this morning’s GDB, I wrote that this was a game the Oilers absolutely had to have. They couldn’t be the ones to end the Senators’ seven-game losing streak, but rather a team that flexed their killer instinct to kick a struggling team while they’re down. Take the points, apologize never. That’s what the great teams do. I was also hoping that last night’s win against the Leafs — arguably the best game they’ve played so far this season — would give the boys a boost of confidence that would spill over into their first matchup against the Sens. With McDavid and Draisaitl rolling like the boulder from Indiana Jones, getting these drips of offensive out of the bottom-six will go a long way to help get this ship back on course and out of the early hole they’ve dug. But if they can’t put it all together and knock out a win against the Senators? What then? Bad news bears, that’s what.
With Stuart Skinner manning the crease for his first-ever NHL game, the Oilers were going to have to be ready to offer support and try and make his life easier. Not only was Skinner getting in for his first NHL start which is nerve-racking all in itself without even adding in the layer of having it happen in his hometown, but he was also playing his first game in nearly a calendar year. Needless to say, the conditions could not be weirder. The good news is that the boys did absolutely everything in their power to make life easy for the young netminder, scoring five first period goals and gifting him the kind of lead anyone would hope for in their first start. Even so, there are no gimmes in the National Hockey League and it was going to take more than coasting to the finish line to ensure that the Oilers were the ones walking away with two points. Thankfully, coasting wasn’t really in their gameplan.
In the end, the Oilers were the better team by a sizeable margin and they got the result they deserved. From opening faceoff to the final buzzer, Edmonton built an advantage with quick puck movement and deadly special teams, and it was the exact game that I was hoping for when this matchup came up on the schedule. Even with a rookie goaltender getting his first start backing them, the Senators are down and out right now and the Oilers didn’t let them up off the mat with a slump-busting win. Don’t get me wrong, it’s unrealistic to expect that the boys are going to score eight goals on 31 shots every time these two teams play, but it was still clear to me that the Senators were outmatched and had no answers at all when it came to the dynamic duo. For Oilers fans, we haven’t had the chance to watch a beatdown like this yet this year, and I have to say that having it complete a perfect weekend was a welcome dose of relaxed fun that I certainly enjoyed.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- I don’t know if you can get a better start than picking up a good luck goal only eight seconds into the hockey game but that’s exactly what happened for Dominik Kahun. Kahun went to fire the puck on Murray after a won faceoff by Leon Draisaitl and it took a friendly bounce up and over Murray for his second goal of the year.
- James Neal scored his first goal of the season (2-0) on the powerplay after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found him on the doorstep with a beautiful cross-crease pass that Neal only had to redirect into the net. Neal added a second goal later on in the frame (4-1) when he picked up a faceoff win from Turris and rifled it through Hogberg’s body and blocker. I thought Neal’s had some good chances over the past few games and I was happy to see him get rewarded here tonight.
- Tyson Barrie also scored his first goal of the year (3-1) on the power play after Leon Draisaitl set him up on a tee for a big one-timer from the point that beat Murray up high and got him hooked from the game.
- Adding to the onslaught was a third powerplay goal in the first period (5-1), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sent a perfectly placed laser beam of a snapshot from the slot up and over Hogberg into the top corner. I don’t care who’s in net, no one was stopping that shot. RNH finished the night with three points.
- Connor McDavid added a fourth powerplay goal early in the second period (6-3) after he picked up a pass in the slot, dangled a defender out of his jock, and snapped a low shot through the goaltender. What can you say about the night McDavid had for his team? According to the NHL, Connor McDavid is the first Oilers player with three+ points on consecutive days since Mark Messier did it over 30 years ago.
- Darnell Nurse converted the touchdown with the Oilers’ seventh goal of the night after McDavid found him with a high pass near the blue line that he converted into a goal with a beautiful wrist shot inside the post.
- Kailer Yamamoto joined in on the fun with a goal in the dying moments of the second period that came as a result of a beautiful cross-ice pass from Leon Draisail that the tenacious one smashed home without dusting the puck off.
- How about a casual six-point night for Leon Draisaitl? Outside of Connor McDavid, I can’t think of a hotter player in the NHL right now. The dude is a warlord and I don’t know how you stop him.
- Stuart Skinner last played a game on March 6th, 2020, for the Bakersfield Condors but he was being asked to get a winning streak started for the Edmonton Oilers here tonight. Last year in the AHL, Skinner went 16-17-6 with a 3.32 GAA, .892 save%, and one shutout. While he wasn’t perfect in his debut — there are probably a couple of goals at least that he’d like back — Skinner was able to outduel both of Ottawa’s goalies and secure his first NHL victory and that deserves all kinds of props. Skinner finished the night with 33 saves and a .868 save%.
- I think it’s safe to say that the powerplay was exceptionally good tonight, scoring four goals on five chances.
- You guys knew I was going to gush a little bit about the Oilers winning 59% of the faceoffs tonight, didn’t you? Mmmmm faceoff wins.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Colin White pulled the Senators back to within a goal (2-1) after perfectly batting the puck out of mid-air and into the open net. Initially, the goal was reviewed for a high stick but after a short delay, the refs confirmed the goal and life moves on.
- Brady Tkachuk closed the gap a little bit (5-2) after he found the puck with some space and beat Skinner up high.
- Drake Batherson further chipped away at the Oilers’ lead (5-3) with a powerplay goal from the point that beat Skinner high over the glove hand. To his credit, Batherson’s shot was an a
- Midway through the third period, Tim Stutzle added a fourth Ottawa goal (8-4) after picking up the puck in flight on the left side, beating Skinner high up over his glove.
- Only 47 seconds after Stutzle cut the deficit to four goals, Austin Watson cut the deficit to three (8-5) when he grabbed the puck high in the slot, spun and fired a shot on net that Skinner didn’t even see.
- Say what you will about Ottawa having a lot of poor quality shots, I still don’t like seeing that the Oilers were outshot 38-31 by them.
- The PK extended its streak of allowing a goal against when down a man (2/5), and it’s an issue that the Oilers will have to address sooner than later. I know that the PK goal against didn’t make a difference tonight, but allowing at least one when down by a man is a recipe for a stinky stew.
- Tonight marked the sixth time in 11 games that the Oilers have allowed at least two goals in a span of two minutes or less, and they actually did it twice. As far as stats go, this trend is about as ugly as it gets for the Edmonton Oilers and one that they need to kill immediately.
This is fun.
— Travis Dakin (@TravisDakin) February 1, 2021
You … you … forgot … about Drai?
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) February 1, 2021
@OilersNation this game is going to cost save on foods so much they'll need Reddit to save their stock price
— David Ottosen (@dottosen) February 1, 2021
We did a PK! pic.twitter.com/3oLQQRdXDp
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) February 1, 2021
If he wins tonight, Stuart Skinner would become the first goaltender drafted and developed by the Oilers to win an NHL game since Devan Dubnyk in March of 2010.
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) January 31, 2021
I haven’t noticed. To be honest, I’m too distracted by the ads on the helmets.
— The Real Ryan Murray (@r3alryanmurray) February 1, 2021
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) February 1, 2021
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