Nine straight losses, Dave. Final Score: 3-2 Islanders in OT
After yesterday’s dreadful outcome in New Jersey, I was really intrigued to see what the Oilers would do to try and respond. That was another one of those games that they should have won, but the team found new and creative ways to lose a weaker opponent and leave points on the table. Facing the Islanders, the Oilers had another opportunity to pick up some points against a team that has struggled this year, but if they were going to make good on the chance, they were going to need to play a hell of a lot better in their own zone than they did yesterday. If they could get a decent start or at least weather the early storm that comes in the second half of a back-to-back set then I truly believed that they had a chance to be there in the end. And as expected, the Islanders threw waves of pressure at the Oilers throughout the first period and while the boys were able to bend without breaking for a bit, it seemed like only a matter of time before the dam would break and that’s exactly what happened as New York was able to open the scoring with a power play goal late in the frame.
Moving into the second period, the Oilers desperately needed to find their legs and start fighting back or it was going to be a very long afternoon for all of us that decided this game was worth watching, and that’s the exact response we got as Leon Draisaitl was able to tie the score up in the first minute of the frame. It wasn’t the prettiest goal you’ll ever see — Leon banked the puck in off an Islanders defender — but it was beautiful to me dammit. From there, things evened out significantly as the play seemed to flow back and forth without either side necessarily grabbing hold of the game outside of a shift or two. Unlike what we got in New Jersey, this was a much tighter hockey game and it felt like the team that limited their mistakes the best was the one that was going to win. Thankfully, the Oilers understood the assignment and locked in their defensive play through 40 minutes and it was very nice to see that attention to detail rewarded with a huge goal late in the frame to grab the lead and carry it into the intermission.
Up by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the boys were in a good spot to close out the win but they’d need to keep their details in check because you just knew the Islanders weren’t about to limp past the finish line. As expected, the Islanders hit the ice with plenty of energy that our side simply could not match, and as much as it was annoying to see them tie the game up so quickly, I’d be hard-pressed to say it wasn’t expected based on how things were going. To put it lightly, the Oilers were getting dummied up and down the ice, and instead of pushing to reclaim their lead, it truly looked like all they could muster was to hang on for dear life and hope the clock ran out. Amazingly, the plan (or lack thereof) seemingly worked out as the boys were able to stumble into the bonus period and secure a point even though this game had regulation loss written all over it based on how the third period played out. Even when the game got to OT, the Oilers were outmatched, outhustled, and it was not at all surprising to see the Islanders close out the win because they honestly deserved it.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game (1-1) with an early second period goal after he centered the puck for a pass and had it take a friendly bounce into the net off of a defender’s skate. It was the kind of lucky bounce the Oilers haven’t gotten much of lately and I was endlessly grateful to see that puck go in.
- Darnell Nurse gave the Oilers the lead (2-1) after the puck kicked out to him in the slot and he just put it on net. It wasn’t the hardest shot you’ll ever see, but the lesson here is that putting pucks on net is always a good play, especially when you’re struggling to score goals a little bit.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for the first time since December 14th against the Leafs and looking to get the Oilers back in the win column after a disappointing showing against the Devils last night. Up for the challenge, the big man played exceptionally well for the Oilers. Even though it wasn’t the busiest game he’ll ever have, Kostco was called upon to make some big saves throughout the afternoon and he stepped up with the kind of effort the boys needed to secure a point. Put another way, had it not been for him then there is no way that the Oilers get this game to overtime. Koskinen finished the night with 26 saves and a .897 save%.
- I thought Kailer Yamamoto had another strong game even though he wasn’t rewarded for his efforts with a goal, but I still loved the hustle and puck pursuit we got from him in his 19:07 of TOI.
- At least the Oiler won 51% of the faceoffs.
- Looking at the fancies, the Oilers finished the game with a 51.81 CF% and a 56.15 xGF%.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Make that 10 of their last 11 games and 22 of 32 overall where the Oilers have given up the first goal. Absolutely abysmal.
- Dave Tippett has now gone a full month without a win behind the bench. His last win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 1st. Just as disappointing is the fact that this was the second straight game where the Oilers blew a third period lead to leave points on the table. Clock’s ticking, Ken.
- Anders Lee opened the scoring for the Islanders (1-0) with a power play goal after he picked up a rebound right in front of the net and quickly tucked the puck through Koskinen’s legs.
- Anthony Beauvilier tied the game (2-2) early in the third period after Slater Koekkoek got stripped of the puck behind the net, which allowed the Islanders to walk out front and execute a play in close. This sequence went from looking like it was in control from an Edmonton perspective to the back of the net in. the blink of an eye.
- I know the Oilers weren’t lights out by any means in this hockey game but I still find it hard to believe that the Islanders didn’t do anything to merit a single penalty outside of the coincidental minor.
- On the flip side, the Oilers gave up one goal in two shorthanded situations for yet another special teams sweep.
- I’d love to know why Dave Tippett thought putting Devin Shore in RNH’s spot was a better option than Foegele, Benson, or McLeod. Anyone have any ideas? Not only that, Shore ended up playing more minutes than Puljujarvi, Foegele, and McLeod.
- Speaking of Dave Tippett, did anyone else hear Elliotte Friedman talk about Mike Babcock and the Oilers during the first intermission? I know he threw some water on the rumour but that would be a horrible choice for Ken Holland to make which makes it almost seem more likely to happen.
- Mike Smith is listed as day-to-day after getting banged up in New Jersey, and it drives me nuts that Tippett played him two games in three days without a conditioning stint in the AHL to make sure he was ready to play. Amateur hour.
- Not only did the Oilers get outshot handily (29-19) but they were only able to muster two lowly shots in the third period. Pathetic.
- The NHL site had the giveaways listed as 12-9 for the Islanders but I’m not sure I buy that.
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) January 1, 2022
We need to keep getting older at the top!
— Jay Downton (@thesquireyeg) January 1, 2022
Loving Elliotte Friedman channeling his inner Rock pic.twitter.com/QcEXWdgdZ6
— The Bearded Brad (@The_BeardedBrad) January 1, 2022
He can trade 10 timeouts for a free FroYo.
— John Epler (@eplerjc) January 1, 2022
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) January 1, 2022
I am going to have an aneurysm
— Aime (@aimeok) January 1, 2022