That’s more like it. Final Score: 5-2 Oilers.
When you’ve lost six straight games as the Oilers have the list of things to complain about is endless long, but rather than rehashing everything that’s going wrong, I spent my morning pleading with the Hockey Gords to end the madness. We’ve seen games where the boys got outplayed and deservedly lost, we’ve seen games where they probably played well enough to win, and now it was time to put the excuses aside and grind out a win. Besides, the Blue Jackets are a team that the Oilers beat up on a little bit, and I was hoping the trend would continue at a time when we needed it the most. And probably beyond what we would have hoped, the Oilers came roaring out of the gates with a trio of goals to not only open the scoring for the first time in two weeks but also their first lead since the losing streak began. By no means was it a perfect start for the Oilers — Stuart Skinner had to come up with some big saves to keep it scoreless — but you could almost see the mood lighten on the bench after the boys were able to cash in some offence for the first time in a while. Either way, I wasn’t going to complain about carrying a three-goal lead into the intermission, ya know?
With a sizeable lead in their pocket with plenty of time left to play, the Oilers needed to make sure that they kept attacking and looking for more rather than sitting back and thinking the job was done. As much as the Blue Jackets have struggled over their last 10 games, I wasn’t about to call this a win for the good guys until the final buzzer sounded and that meant keeping their hard hats on for another 40 minutes, which has undoubtedly been a problem at times. Thankfully, there were no such issues in the second period as the Oilers were able to extend their lead with another bottom six goal while also getting the goaltending they needed to cover up any mistakes. Sure, there were bumps along the way and mistakes they need to eliminate, but from where I blog, I still think we’re talking about as solid of a 40-minute stretch as we’ve seen since early November. Needless to say, the vibes were the best they’ve been in a while and rightfully so as the boys were finally getting the goals that seemed impossible over these last two weeks. More importantly, being up by four goals afforded us the luxury of feeling confident that a win was coming instead of hoping and praying that the Hockey Gords would give us the juice needed for a third period comeback. Up by four with 20 minutes to play? No problem. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that my heart skipped a few beats when Columbus got their first and second goals of the game to halve the lead and test the Oilers’ ability to close. They still won by three but even that was too close for my liking.
While it wasn’t the smoothest win we’ll ever see, the important part is that the Oilers beat a team that they should more often than not with goals from throughout their lineup, and after the stretch of losses we all just lived through, I think that’s something we can all be thankful for. Big win, boys. Gord knows we needed it.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- WE SCORED FIRST! WE SCORED FIRST!
- Jesse Puljujarvi opened the scoring for the Oilers(1-0) with a 5-on-3 power play goal after a point shot took a friendly bounce off the backboards and right onto the big man’s stick. Puljujarvi added a second power play goal only 46 seconds later (2-0) on a beautiful passing play by McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins that resulted in one of the easiest tap-ins he’ll ever get at the NHL level.
- Then, just past the midway point of the first period, Derek Ryan extended the Oilers’ lead to three (3-0) after he drove to the net and picked up the rebound on Brendan Perlini’s wrister. The bottom-six scores in two straight games? It can’t be.
- Late in the second period, Brendan ‘Lamborghini’ Perlini put the Oilers up by four goals (4-0) after a rebound kicked out to him in the high slot and he ripped it into the top of the net. I know a lot of us were bummed out that his pre-season heater didn’t carry over into the regular season, so I was pumped to see Perlini get himself on the board.
- Warren Foegele added an empty-netter (5-2) to ice the game, but maybe more importantly, get himself back on the scoreboard for the first time since October. We need Foegele to chip in with some offence from time to time, and I hope this goal can be the start of getting his groove back.
- Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for the first time in a week and I was hopeful that the hometown boy would hook us up with the kind of effort that would end this losing streak. Up for the challenge, Skinner provided some very solid goaltending and looked about as steady as we’ve seen so far in his young career. From start to finish, Skinner was steady in the crease and made the kind of saves you need when the team in front of you is trying to rebuild its confidence, and it was a real pleasure to watch him lock things down when we needed him to. Skinner finished the night with 36 saves and a .947 save%.
- Make it two straight games with goals from the bottom six! Hallelujah.
- Speaking of the bottom six, I like the way the third line is looking right now. They’ve had a couple of strong nights in a row and I hope that’s the start of something.
- The power play was exactly what we needed it to be, scoring a pair of goals on five chances with the man advantage.
- Not to be outdone, the penalty killers did their job too and killed off all three shorthanded situations that were thrown their way.
- How about the puck moving skills on Evan Bouchard? By my count, there were three or four passes that made me laugh because I didn’t know what he was trying to do until it happened. My point here is that I cannot wait to see how good dad can be as he keeps collecting at-bats at the NHL level.
- Pretty awesome to get a 5-2 considering Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the board. Depth scoring, baby!
- Another assist for Ryan Nugent-Apple tree. Need some goals, though, pal. I love ya.
- Oilers won the shot battle by a 45-38 margin and you could almost feel the spreadsheets lighting up with joy.
- Looking at the fancies, the Oilers finished the game with a 48 CF% and a 51.73 xGF%.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Gustav Nyquist got Columbus on the board (4-1) with a chip shot under the bar after a point shot was deflected on its way to the net and bounced right to him. In the end, the goal didn’t really mean a whole lot but it was annoying to see Columbus end Skinner’s shutout bid.
- pulled the Blue Jackets back to within a pair of goals (4-2) with a quick move to his backhand after picking up the rebound on Werenski’s wrister from the slot, and I could actually feel my heartbeat speed up as if my body was trying to avoid danger.
- The Oilers gave up way too many odd-man rushes and had it not been for Stuart Skinner’s brilliance, this game may have ended up playing out differently.
- Make it seven straight games without a shot for Kailer Yamamoto. I actually think he played well against the Jackets but that doesn’t change the fact that he needs to find a way to throw pucks on net more than he has been.
- Unfortunately, I must report that the Oilers won only 49% of the faceoffs. I know that’s not even that bad, so I’ll just wrap this up by saying there’s room for improvement.
- This game had a weird vibe to it because of what’s going on around the league right now because of COVID. The Canadiens played in front of an empty building, the Flames are on the shelf for a while, and both the Canucks and Leafs cut capacity to only 50%, making the whole schedule feel like it’s teetering on the edge. Fingers crossed, dear friends.
— Jay Downton (@thesquireyeg) December 17, 2021
— Steven Fiddler (@sfiddler007) December 17, 2021
Not very superstitious what’s the volume #42🧡💙 pic.twitter.com/t0GoCiIvV7
— VICKI PERLINI (@vickiperlini) December 17, 2021
Oh haha I get it the last 6 games the Oilers were only kidding hahahaha great prank guys
— Ryan (@IAmByks) December 17, 2021
— Adam (@OilersAdam) December 17, 2021
You better sand the sidewalks in the morning too then
— Radley Mahinay (@RadleyMahinay) December 17, 2021
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