Hell of a game, boys. Can’t be mad about that. Final Score: 2-1 Avalanche in the shootout
To be the best, you’ve gotta beat the best and that was the task at hand for the Oilers as they squared off with the Western Conference-leading Colorado Avalanche. Not only are the Avs a Stanley Cup favourite but they’re also on the Oilers’ schedule twice over these last 10 games, and with points at a premium in the Pacific Division, the boys needed to find a way to climb this metaphorical mountain. As always, the first step to making that happen was to get a strong start to set the tone and maybe even a goal if you’re lucky, but that wasn’t really all that close to reality as the Oilers started tonight’s game with a rope-a-dope strategy that was as bold as it was stressful to watch. Despite the bagels on the scoreboard, it took the Oilers about 10 minutes before they were able to get their second shot of the night so I was very happy to see that they were able to settle in over the back half of the period. Even though they didn’t get on the board ahead of the break, you have to take some satisfaction in knowing that the Avalanche weren’t able to get one either. Big shout out to the posts for the help in making that happen.
With the score knotted at zero and plenty of time left to play, the game was absolutely up for grabs provided that our luck would continue and the boys could find the solution for Darcy Kuemper. I know the shots to the crest/60 was high in the first but the Oilers found themselves with some quality looks and I was hopeful that they’d be able to keep that going apart from the whole shooting at the goalie thing. And almost exactly as hoped, the Oilers hit the ice with plenty of jam and they used that energy to carry the play more often than not, firing shots at Kuemper in bunches to try and crack the code. Unfortunately, Colorado’s goaltender stood on his head and it allowed his team to hang around for longer than they should have been allowed. Sure, the Avs had all kinds of quality chances in the first period but that was not the case in the second, and the fact that the Oilers were kept off the board considering the work they put in was almost horrible luck. Either way, the Oilers were easily the better team in the middle third and I was looking for them to carry that hustle into the third to give us the best chance for a positive finish.
Seeing as there were no goals on the board, you knew the final 20 minutes were going to be tight since neither side wanted to make the mistake that wound up as the game-winner. During the intermission, I was thinking about how this game had the kind of feel to it where we’d be lucky to get more than a goal or two, and I was hoping that the boys would be able to find a way to make that happen against an opponent that might be running out of gas a little bit. After a long bus ride into Edmonton from Winnipeg, the Avalanche were wrapping up their third game in four nights and I saw that as a wonderful opportunity. And with the Hockey Gords’ blessings, the Oilers kicked off the period with a big goal by Warren Foegele to finally open the scoring and give the home side the first lead of the night. From my side of the TV screen, the only problem here was that there was still plenty of time left on the clock for Colorado to fight for the comeback. Down by a goal with the clock winding, the Avalanche threw waves of pressure at the Oilers and while they were able to bend without breaking temporarily, the Universe must have wanted more hockey because we got a late tying to goal to send it to the bonus period.
Blessed with a golden opportunity in the extra frame, the Oilers were given a power play and used it to pepper Kuemper with a dump truck worth of shots but despite the onslaught just couldn’t get anything by him. Put another way, had it not been for the goalie then this game would have been over way earlier, and rather than being too bummed about missing out on the extra point, sometimes you have to tip to cap to a guy that put in a hell of a performance.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- This game was a lot of fun to watch and it’s hard to say too much was wrong with it despite the obvious result. To be honest, the Oilers will win a lot of hockey games if they play the way they did and I’m hoping we can keep this going down the stretch.
- Warren Foegele broke the stalemate (1-0) with a third period goal that came on a deflection in the slot after he got his stick on Darnell Nurse’s point shot through traffic. Since Tyler Yaremchuk said mean things about Foegele on Thursday’s Real Life podcast, the forward has goals in consecutive games. #YaremchukEffect
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for the first time since March 30th against the Kings, and the Avs were going to be a huge test for a guy that’s been playing some pretty good hockey over his last 13 or 14 games. And as we hoped he would be, Koskinen was excellent for the Oilers and was a huge reason that they were able to secure a point. From start to finish, Koskinen made the saves we needed him to make in such a tight game and it’s honestly a shame that he wasn’t rewarded with a win because I thought he was fantastic. Koskinen finished the night with 33 saves and a .971 save%.
- You’ve gotta like the work the Oilers’ PK has been doing lately, and we got another display of its fine work as the boys killed off 2-of-2 shorthanded situations they faced.
- The Oilers won the Corskis by a fair margin, outshooting the Avalanche by a 50-34 final total.
- Word from the spreadsheets was basically a chef’s kiss as the Oilers finished with a 52.68 CF% and a 52.99 xGF%
- How can you not give some love to the posts for kicking aside three potential goals against in the first period alone?
- You’ve finally landed at the special time in the Wrap Up where I tell you the Oilers won 60% of the faceoffs.
- The Oilers were throwing their bodies around as the NHL site credits them with 32 hits. I love me some physical play, ya know?
- The magic number is now 13.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Nathan MacKinnon tied the game (1-1) with a backhander from the slot after Darnell Nurse missed chance to clear the puck out of danger and ended up turning it over, gifting the Avalanche a chance to score off a draw they lost cleanly.
- Darcy Kuemper was so very frustrating to me. Incredibly annoying, in fact. He finished with 49 saves and a .980 save%.
- Why oh why oh why couldn’t the power play score on either of its two chances with the man advantage? Gahhhhh, damn you Kuemper.
- Jesse Puljujarvi may never score again. I mean, how many grade-A chances did our sweet boy have without making anything stick? The snakebite is real, my friends.
Better sign that post to an NHL contract now!!!
— Papi Choms (@captnencoke) April 10, 2022
Iceberg Makar is a cousin
— Andolf (@AndolfAlberta) April 10, 2022
Big fan of their sister Arugula Makar. She's a bit spicy.
— Raider Jesse 🇺🇦🌻 (@EdmontonRaider) April 10, 2022
Bouch is literally a single dad who works two jobs who loves his kids and never stops
— L50N ERA ✨ (@kennedystrash) April 10, 2022
— Austin Ulm (@_AustinMatthews) April 10, 2022
— Michael Ostashewski (@MichaelO17) April 10, 2022
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
Leon Draisaitl hitting 50 goals for a second time, Mike Smith shutting up the haters, and the standings are as tight as one could possibly imagine. All this and more on a new episode of Better Lait Than Never. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.