Mikko Koskinen, we speak your name. Final Score: 3-2 Oilers
Last night, the Oilers won their series opener against the Senators with one of the most complete games that I’ve seen them play this season. I’m not saying that it was perfect night by any means, beating the Sens by only a 3-1 margin is probably a little bit closer than any of us would’ve liked, but I still thought there were plenty of moments worth carrying forward. The goaltending was great, the penalty kill was perfect, and the top two lines each had plenty of shifts of pure dominance in the offensive zone regardless of whether or not they actually scored. To me, if the Oilers played the way they did last night, I saw no reason why they couldn’t pick up a second straight series sweep. It was a simple dream, but it was my dream.
Unfortunately, on this night, the Edmonton Oilers seemingly wanted a challenge for themselves so they spotted the Senators with a one-goal lead only 26 seconds after the opening draw. As far as starts go, this one was a turd in the punchbowl, but with plenty of time still left on the clock, the Oilers stuck with the gameplan and fought their way back into a tie game before eventually stealing the lead. Actually, it was nice to see them respond to an early deficit with a trio of goals of their own rather than allowing the hole to get any deeper, and to get it done while not even playing at their best was a nice bonus. Even so, the Senators were able to manufacture way too many chances for themselves through 40 minutes and the Oilers were playing with fire if they thought they were going to be able to sit back on their two-goal lead and coast their way to the final buzzer.
In the third period, the Oilers had some insurance on the scoreboard but I was looking for them to close the game out with a killer instinct rather than limping towards the finish line. The task, unfortunately, was too great to handle as Ottawa got themselves right back into the mix with an early goal that put the visitors back on their heels. And while the Oilers were able to settle things down a tiny bit, they weren’t playing with anywhere close to the level of intensity as their opponents and it almost looked like they were waiting for something to go wrong rather than pushing to nail the coffin shut. It seemed like all we could do was buckle up and hope for the best. To be honest, I think the Oilers were lucky to walk away from this game with two points because they were not the better club over the last 35+ minutes. I know it’s tough to sweep teams in the NHL but, apart from the secondary scoring, I think we should just be happy to take the money and run.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Darnell Nurse continued his great start to the season with a big first-period goal that tied the game (1-1) after a tough start for his hockey club. Nurse took a drop pass from Archibald up high in the zone and clapped the puck through a falling Hogberg’s five-hole. I also want to thank Darnell Nurse for winning me some money as I bet on him to score at +450.
- After plenty of shots on net over his first handful of games, Evan Bouchard was rewarded with his first goal of the year (2-1) on a seeing-eye shot that he fired through traffic and past Hogberg to the blocker side.
- Tyson Barrie extended the lead to two goals (3-1) after he weaved his way into the high slot and fired a quick wrister past a sliding Hogberg. It wasn’t that Barrie’s shot was particularly hard or anything but rather than Hogberg was especially bad, but you know what, they all look the same on the scoreboard.
- After another night off, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes and looking to rebound after an abysmal performance against the Flames on Saturday night, and I won’t lie to you, I was pretty nervous about how this was going to go after he allowed a goal on the first shot. I know it was deflected in front of him in the slot, but it was enough to give me the scaries for the remaining 59:30 of the hockey game. Thankfully, Koskinen was much better on this night than he was three days ago, and I thought that he was a huge part of closing out the win. Frankly, Kostco was called upon far too often for my liking and he came up with some magnificent saves to keep his team up on the scoreboard. Koskinen finished the night with 40 saves and a .952 save%.
- For the second straight game, the penalty kill was perfect (2/2) when called upon and it’s been nice to see the PK be a strength and not a hindrance during this series.
- I’m happy to see Jujhar Khaira contributing since he’s been back in the lineup because I’ve always felt like he can be an effective player when he’s on top of his game. I guess some time on the taxi squad showed him where he stands on the depth chart it’s got him playing with some jump in his step. Khaira finished the night with two assists to go along with 12:09 in TOI and four hits.
- Speaking of Khaira, I really liked his line with Ennis and Archibald for the second straight night and thought they did a nice job of producing some momentum any time they were out there.
- I want to take a minute to pump William Lagesson’s tires for a minute. I know he may not be the fanciest player to ever grace the Oilers’ blue line, but he is quietly steady on a nightly basis and it is nice to see him work his way into a regular spot.
- Jim Matheson tweeted that the Oilers had 22 total goals from their defensive group over 71 games in 2019-20, which makes the 11 they have in 15 games that much more incredible. Love seeing them goals from the back end.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Would you be surprised to know that Connor Brown scored on the first shot of the game, which happened less than 30 seconds from the opening faceoff? I’m not saying this goal was Koskinen’s fault but it was certainly not the start he wanted to have after what happened against the Flames on Saturday.
- Evgenii Dadonov pulled the Senators back to within a goal (3-2) after being sprung on a breakaway by Mike Reilly and beating Koskinen with a quick wrister. I don’t know why the Oilers give up so many breakaways this year but it’s a problem that’s really starting to get annoying.
- I really, really dislike seeing the Oilers get outshot 42-22 by the Ottawa Senators and I don’t care about the double-minor penalty or that it’s tough to sweep teams at the NHL level. When a team has goaltending as bad as Hogberg was in his brief stay, there’s no reason to not be firing pucks from the parking lot. Not to mention, Edmonton was vastly outworked and that’s a real problem.
- BOOO TO MCDAVID AND DRAISAITL’S POINT STREAK ENDING!
- Last night, the Oilers’ powerplay couldn’t get anything done in their four chances and it allowed the Senators to stay in the game longer than they should have been and it was the same story tonight. I know they only got one chance with the man advantage but, boy howdy, did they ever waste it.
- Oilers won only 44% of the faceoffs which was on brand for the evening since they were chasing the puck all night.
- What was Tyson Barrie doing at the end of the game when he tried to flip the puck up centre ice when they were trying to protect a lead? Sweet mercy, that was stressful.
- How many jokes can we make about Eugene Melnyk being cheap as the reason for the delay between the first and second periods?
- It sucked to hear that Zack Kassian got hurt as a result of his first fight of the season. I mean, I think we all wanted Kass to get more physically engaged but nobody wanted to see him land on the shelf for at least a week or more.
Dad tosses it lazily on net from the blueline. Finds twine. 2-1 and ice cream at DQ for all the kids tonight.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) February 10, 2021
SHOOTERS SHOOT. DADDY’S HOME pic.twitter.com/5Z6qvVrg2f
— Josh Park (@JoshTPark) February 10, 2021
— Surveyor Brett (@BLuchanski) February 10, 2021
After Khaira was drafted, read a story about his fam. Dad drove truck, Mom kept it all together, found their way in the community via hockey. I've cheered for Khaira since, but his struggle last year or so suggested he was at the last chance Texaco. Happy to see this recent run
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) February 10, 2021
— Anthony Flynn (@anthonyjflynn) February 10, 2021
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