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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: Regaining lost ground

From a recliner in the sky, Walter Gretzky looked down upon the Edmonton Oilers.

And on the ice at Rogers Place, Edmonton clawed back from an early deficit to break a three-game losing streak with a massive 3-2 win over the visiting Calgary Flames. Edmonton had their struggles early and there’s those undeniable moments of “oh boy, here we go again” much like there were in the last three games.

With a new coach set to take over in Darryl Sutter, the Flames came out hard. It was a physical first period that saw Calgary dominate for the overwhelming majority of the frame and they likely could’ve scored more.

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It was Edmonton’s response to that, however, that was key in the team coming back to win the game. They put their work boots on, and a couple fights helped to slowly turn the tide.

“We knew this was going to be a hard game, we knew we had to play better,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “I liked the way we hung into the game.

“Schmiddy gave us some real good saves, but our team competed especially in the second and third periods. i thought we got better as the game went on. we knew they were going to push early. we kind of got our legs under us and i liked the way we worked in the second and third period.”

Edmonton responded well. Darnell Nurse fought Milan Lucic, and a minute later James Neal dropped Matthew Tkachuk in a well spirited bout.

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But it was in the second and third where the game was won. Jesse Puljujarvi’s nifty move in front of the net showed why he’s a top-six forward with it getting the Oilers back in the game.

In the net, Schmiddy showed up playing a great comeback game after a few shaky performances. It was that solid play, and his ability to save 1.62 goals above expected kept Edmonton in it all night long.

Despite all that, it was Connor McDavid’s night to shine. He had a three-point night as Dave Tippett saddled Leon Draisaitl onto his hip. The pair combined for five points while their linemate, Kailer Yamamoto, chipped in two himself.

All in all it was a victory that couldn’t have come at a better time. They needed this win more than you could imagine after being dropped in three straight by the Maple Leafs. And now, they have the ability to regain some lost ground. Monday, Wednesday and Friday night they see the visiting Ottawa Senators, before a three-game road trip through Vancouver and Calgary twice.

They’ll be hard fought games, as every game is and continue to be the rest of the year, but they’re very winnable games. Let’s see what them Oily Boys can do.

Backhanders…

  • Jesse Puljujarvi continues to look solid in his NHL return. I’m sure he’d be the first to admit he’s struggled as of late, but Tippett continues to roll with him. He scored a beautiful goal tonight and his underlying numbers continue to be an analytics monster at 5×5, despite being bitten by a 97 PDO. The Oilers controlled 76 (!) percent of the shot attempts. He’s the real deal folks.
  • The question has to be asked: what’s up with Kyle Turris? There were some fairly lofty expectations for him this year coming into the Oilers bottom-six but he’s fallen very flat. He’s only scored three points this year, but that’s not even the most concerning part of his season. The Oilers are getting caved in when he’s on the ice to the tune of 42.09 CF%, and a 38.35 xGF%.
  • Leon Draisaitl’s assist on Kailer Yamamoto’s goal was one of the best passes I’ve ever seen.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]m.

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