That’s more like it. Final Score: 6-1 Oilers
After the way the Oilers shat all over themselves in Calgary on Saturday night, anything less than a bounce-back effort against the helpless Arizona Coyotes was going to be a real problem for me. And seeing as the Coyotes played last night in Winnipeg and decided to run with the same goalie on back-to-back nights, I was feeling hopeful that we’d be in store for a good night. So when McDavid opened the scoring only minutes into the game on a beautiful play between him and Puljujarvi, I was already starting to forget about the horrors from the Saddledome. I could feel it. Add in a Ryan McLeod lucky bounce and I was about ready to pretend like I didn’t even go to Calgary. Heartbreaking loss to the Flames? Didn’t happen. In my mind, beating up on the Coyotes was exactly what we all needed to flush the last one away, and even though Arizona annoyingly managed to get a goal back before the end of the period, I had already decided on the only acceptable outcome.
Up by a goal but generally carrying the play, the Oilers started off the second period even better than they started off the first as Ryan McLeod popped his second goal of the game and gave his team a little bit of insurance with a second unit power play goal. Now that they were up by a pair, I was looking for the boys to keep the hammer down and put this thing out of reach. Rather than allowing the Coyotes to keep hanging around, I wanted the Oilers to suffocate the Coyotes until the buzzer sounded without ever giving them even an ounce of hope. So I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when the boys were able to tack on two more goals to put themselves up by four. It was the exact period I was hoping to see, and with Edmonton up by four goals the thing I was hoping for was that everyone would make it out of this game in one piece. I wasn’t about to have some bottom-dweller start taking runs at our guys when we’re just starting to get healthy, ya know?
With 20 minutes to go before our two points were tucked safely in the bank, I was looking for the Oilers to win a third straight period as I really didn’t want to see them sit back and try to run the clock out. As much as a four-goal lead seems safe, I’ve been an Oilers fan my entire life and know that there are no sure things and that goes even more so when it’s a team you don’t expect to fight back. There’s something about a lack of expectations that scares me in these situations and that’s why the only remedy was more goals for the home side. Thankfully, the Oilers clearly must have agreed with me as they seemingly had no interest in taking it easy in those rare and precious moments when they weren’t killing off Evander Kane penalties. Rather than riding out the clock, the Oilers won their third straight period and got themselves back in the win column with a much-needed victory after what can only be described as a disastrous performance in Calgary on Saturday.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Connor McDavid opened the scoring (1-0) just over four minutes into the game after Puljujarvi found him in the slot with a pass from the blue line and the captain outwaited the goaltender in close before lifting a backhander up into the top of the net.
- Ryan McLeod continues to make the city fall in love with him for not only his toothless grin but for the way his offence has started to come around as he gets more at-bats. Sure, you could call his first period goal (2-0) a lucky bounce but I’m going to give him the credit he deserves for coming up with a plan and executing it. McLeod added a power play goal (3-1) early in the second after Yamamoto found him flying down the middle with speed, hit him with a perfect pass, and the toothless wonder fooled the goalie with a sneaky little deke through the five-hole. How’s that for his first-ever two-goal performance?
- Warren Foegele extended the lead to three goals (4-1) after pumping home a rebound from the slot after Vejmelka couldn’t handle Barrie’s point shot and kicked out a gift. I don’t know if this goal will lead to anything but I’m honestly hoping it gives Foegele a little bit of confidence down the stretch.
- How about a new career-high in goals for Zach Hyman (5-1) after he was in the perfect spot at the right time to knock Draisaitl’s rebound into what was basically an empty net. For me personally, Hyman has been everything we could have hoped for and then some after he signed a long-term deal with the Oilers in the off-season. I love the dude.
- Leon Draisaitl put the Oilers up by five (6-1) with a tap-in from the side of the net after Puljujarvi found him with a perfect pass to the tape that the goaltender had no chance of stopping. Remember when Leafs fans were so confident that Matthews was running away with the Rocket Richard? We’ll see about that.
- After a rough night in Calgary on Saturday, Mikko Koskinen was rightfully back between the pipes and looking to get his team back on track, and while he wasn’t nearly as busy as his counterpart, I’d say he did a damned fine job when called upon. Even though the Coyotes don’t have the highest scoring team, they got some grade-A chances and the Oilers were lucky that Kostco was there to cover the bill. From start to finish, he was very good tonight and I was pumped to see him respond with a big win after getting yanked two days ago. Koskinen finished the night with 31 saves and a .969 save%.
- I really liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game alongside Kane and McDavid, and it was cool to see him get rewarded right away after some puck thievery and a really nice pass to set up the goal. Not finished there, Puljujarvi added another assist in the third period on a beautiful pass to Draisaitl that gave the former Hart winner one of the easiest tap-in goals he’ll get all season.
- You all know how much I love power play goals and I mean it even more so when they come from the second unit, and that’s exactly what we got when McLeod was able to get his team on the board with a beauty. Oilers finished the night at 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
- I come to you with info from the spreadsheets that state the Oilers finished the night with a 54.02 CF% and a 63.77 xGF%.
- If you’re a fan of the Corskis, you’ll be overjoyed to know that the Oilers outshot the Coyotes by a 42-32 margin.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Clayton Keller got the Coyotes on the board (2-1) with a power play goal after his pass attempt changed direction off Zach Hyman’s stick and slid underneath a moving Koskinen.
- The magic of Derick Brassard couldn’t last forever I suppose as the Oilers gave up one goal on four shorthanded situations.
- Speaking of penalties, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy take three straight penalties before as Evander Kane did in the third period. My guy went into the penalty box, came out, went back in moments late, came out for a second time, and then went right back in — it was honestly incredible.
- I am disappointed to announce that the Oilers won 48% of the faceoffs.
Ben’s coming back to the @EdmontonOilers game tonight to cheer on his buddies @ZachHyman and @cmcdavid97 and to cheer for the next @scotiabank skater! Win it for Ben! #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/UqPE45EPIq
— Mike Stelter (@m_dan25) March 28, 2022
— Mike Stelter (@m_dan25) March 29, 2022
Evander Kane is now so close with the penalty box attendant that they're planning a summer vacation together right now
— Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) March 29, 2022
Kane heading to the bench after serving his 3rd penalty here pic.twitter.com/rmmKuHjDEG
— Ryan Nutzenberger (@ryan_nutz) March 29, 2022
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) March 29, 2022
How great would it be if after the game he also had a parking ticket
— Ryan (@IAmByks) March 29, 2022
Friday on Oilersnation Radio, the guys talked about the trade deadline, whether or not Ken Holland did enough, and tried to figure out if this team is good enough in net to make some noise in the playoffs… provided they get there, of course. Subscribe for free on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.