Three in a row gets them back to .500. Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that Sunday’s win over the Senators was one of the weirder wins you’ll ever see. Personally, I had a great time watching it and thought the Oilers actually did a lot of good things, but I also understand that despite winning the game, there was still a laundry list of issues that need to get cleaned up. Put another way, if you keep wearing a shirt with a giant mustard stain on it without even trying to sort out the problem, you’ll be able to get away with it for a day or two, but eventually, people are going to start to worry that there’s something bigger going on. How does that relate to the Oilers? All I’m saying is that Sunday’s win was fun and all but if the boys play that loose in their own end against a team not named the Senators then the results will probably be different, and I was expecting (hoping?) that we would see a tighter flavour of defence in tonight’s series finale over what we saw in the opener. Know what I mean? Of course you do.
While getting another goal only eight seconds into the game as Kahun did on Sunday was a long shot, I still wanted to see the Oilers get a fast start against a squad that is clearly lacking confidence right now and that’s exactly what happened. Though they weren’t able to match the five goals they put up in period one of the opener, they did kick a field goal and set themselves up with about as good of a head start as one could hope for. And while things evened out and steadied as game progressed through the second period and into the third, I never felt like there was a time when the Oilers looked like the momentum or overall control of the game was swinging out of their favour. There may have been bending, but there was never breaking. Even when Ottawa was able to gain the zone to try and get something going, the boys did a nice job of keeping them to the outside of the ice and limiting their opportunities at quality shots on goal.
In the end, the Oilers were the better team and got the result they deserved. From start to finish, they suffocated the Senators’ ability to produce much in the way of offence, they won the special teams battle, they got goals from throughout the lineup, and their goaltender was pretty solid. What more could you want, really? I guess you could say that there’s always room for improvement or knock this win because it was only against the Senators, but I honestly think the Oilers deserve some love for executing their game plan and wrapping up a win that they should get. I mean, you’ve gotta admit that it’s pretty nice to not be slump busters for once, right? Yeah, that’s what I think too. Bring on the Flames.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Darnell Nurse opened the scoring for the Oilers midway through the first period with a blast from the point that made its way through a screen and past Hogberg on the blocker side. Not only is Nurse playing huge minutes for this team right now, but he’s also producing offensively and I have to give him some love for the way he’s stepped up his game so far this season. I’ll admit that I doubted his ability to step into the top pairing role this season but he’s done a fine job of handling the task so far.
- Finally, after more than his fair share of chances, Jesse Puljujarvi got his first goal of the season (2-1) on an absolutely stunning solo effort in front of the net. He dangled, he battled, he rebounded, he scored. Magic. Puljujarvi wasn’t done there, though, as he added a second goal in the middle frame as he perfectly deflected Evan Bouchard’s point shot from the high slot.
- Only moments after Puljujarvi got his first, Leon Draisaitl extended the lead to three goals with a ridiculous no-look shot on goal that still has Hogberg confused. Draisaitl made his way down the right wing, surveying the ice for a passing option when he decided to instead pull a sneaky one and rip a quick wrister to the far side of the net that was wide open. I don’t know what teams are supposed to do to stop Leon Draisaitl at this point but I sincerely wish them good luck.
- It’s hard to explain exactly what it’s like to be lucky enough to watch Connor McDavid on a nightly basis, but this was another one of those nights where he was ridiculous and it legitimately makes me laugh at this point. I mean, it’s like he’s playing a completely different game from everyone else and there’s not a whole lot that anyone can do about it. What else can you say about a sixth-straight multi-point game?
- After a well-deserved night off, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 11th start of the season and looking to get himself on his first winning streak of the year. While it wasn’t the busiest night Koskinen will ever have, he was solid and steady in the crease and he made the saves you’d expect him to make and maybe even a couple that he could have missed. Either way, Koskinen gave the Oilers a strong foundation and easily outduelled his counterpart at the other end of the ice, finishing up with 23 saves and a .920 save%.
- With five points in his last three games, Tyson Barrie seems to be settling in a little bit after a tough start and I was hopeful that he’d keep the good vibes going in game two against the Sens. And as hoped, Barrie came through with another two assists to go along with 18:47 in TOI, five shots on goal, and a +1 rating.
- After weeks of waiting, I was excited to finally see Evan Bouchard in his first game of the year and was very intrigued about how much Dave Tippett would be using him. It’s not every day that the Oilers dress seven defencemen, but I also figured that there was no better time for him to get his feet wet than tonight against the Ottawa Senators. As advertised, Bouchard was calm with the puck, made good passes, and the thing I liked most was how he was always willing to shoot the puck any time he got the chance. And the cherry on top? How about his first career assist on Puljujarvi’s second of the night.
- Coming into this game, the Oilers’ PK was sitting at a miserably nice 69.4% and had allowed nine goals in their last six games. Needless to say, it’s a problem that needs to get sorted out tout suite. Thankfully, they were perfect in this one, killing off all five of Ottawa’s chances for their first perfect night in a while.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Cedric Paquette got the Senators on the board (4-1) after he picked up the puck on the left-hand side of the crease, spun, and fired a quick shot past Koskinen. Tyson Barrie was there with Paquette in the battle, but you have to give the latter credit for battling his way into the space needed to make the play.
- Am I allowed to say that I like the way Tim Stutzle plays hockey? The kid got the Sens’ second goal of the night (4-2) with a lightning fast release that beat Koskinen through the (gaping) five-hole. Even though this is only his first month in the NHL, Stutzle has already got a shot that’s well beyond his years.
- If I’m going to nitpick a little bit, I think that the Oilers took their foot off the gas in the latter third of the game and it gave the Sens some life even if they weren’t able to get anything done with it. I would have much rather seen the boys put finish them off with hockey’s equivalent of a Mortal Kombat fatality but it was just not meant to be, I guess. Maybe next week.
- Over the last handful of games, the Oilers’ powerplay has really started to heat up and I was looking at this second game against the Senators as another opportunity to keep polishing the details. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be tonight as the boys got shutout on both chances they had with the man advantage.
- I had a bet on Draisaitl getting more than 1.5 points but he didn’t do it. Are you even an MVP, bro? Pfft. Just kidding, I love you but you owe me some money.
- You absolutely knew that I was going to complain about the Oilers winning only 48% of the faceoffs. You knew I would and here it is.
His favorite song is the theme from America’s Funniest Home Videos
— Steve Dodd (@SteveDodd) February 3, 2021
He wouldn’t of scored that goal without McDavid sitting on the bench 🙄
— Chester_Peaks (@Chester_Peaks) February 3, 2021
— Radley Mahinay (@RadleyMahinay) February 3, 2021
Easy there, WallStreetBets. It’s because Spec tried to short him
— Jamie Wright (@JamieWrightO3) February 3, 2021
KING STATUS pic.twitter.com/3ZhZTknYMH
— Josh Park (@JoshTPark) February 3, 2021
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