In Woodcroft We Trust. Final Score: 5-2 Oilers
Is there anything better than watching a meaningful Oilers game when the sun is still out? Not from where I’m blogging. Mix in the added bonus that the game was against the Dallas Stars — a team I’ve hated since the 90s after all those playoffs series — and you’ve got the makings of a fine little Wednesday. What I didn’t expect, however, was that the Oilers would come out like a house on fire, completely steamrolling the Stars for the better part of the first period to the tune of a two-goal lead. Sure, you always want the boys to metaphorically kick teams in the pills with goals on the board, but you certainly don’t expect them to pop two as quickly as they did. Either way, it was the kind of start that gets the blood pumpin’, ya know? Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good times as the Stars were able to get one of the goals back, but all-in-all, it was a pretty damned fine start to the hockey game. Once again, the Oilers showed up to play and the effort was appreciated.
Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to keep the gas pedal to the floor and do what they could to get the next goal. After allowing Robertson to get the Stars back into the game, I wanted nothing more than to see the boys get back on their horse and restore the two-goal lead. I felt that giving the Stars a second chance was going to be a recipe for a stinky gumbo and I’d rather avoid tempting fate by coughing up the early lead. The bad news was that the Stars had the exact same idea and it was them that were able to score the next one and even the game up at two apiece. The good news is that the Oilers responded with a goal after a big boy shift from the Draisaitl line with a goal of their own to restore the lead and shift the momentum back on their side. Once that happened, the boys got to work just as they had been in the first period, allowing them to not only restore the lead but also to grab some well-deserved insurance. I mean, how else would you describe an effort that saw the boys fire 40 shots on net after 40 minutes of play?
Up by two goals with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers had to avoid another lull that would give the Stars even the slightest chance of coming back for a second time. As much as the boys had enough of a lead to feel comfortable, we had already seen how quickly the Stars could respond with two of their own and that suggested to me that this third period needed an all-out effort to ensure that we locked in these points. I didn’t want any passive nonsense, is my point here. Much to my delight, Edmonton seemingly had no interest in sitting back and waiting for the buzzer, and the result was a defensively played frame that saw the Stars really struggle to get anything going. At both ends of the ice, the Oilers were as sharp as we’ve seen them with their puck choices and Dallas really couldn’t come up with much of an answer for what they were doing. Instead, they spent much of the final period chasing the puck and scrambling to make anything happen and those spinning wheels allowed the Oilers to coast to a comfortable 5-2 victory.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- SEVEN STRAIGHT WINS IN THE BEN STELTER ERA!
- Evander Kane opened the scoring (1-0) from right in the slot after McDavid found him with a beautiful backhand pass that set #91 up for a tap-in goal that Wedgewood had no chance on.
- Derek Ryan gave his team some insurance (2-0) after a chaotic play in the Stars’ end that saw the Oilers hit the crossbar on a floater of a shot before eventually bouncing to Ryan who was charging towards the net. Quite frankly, I don’t think you could replicate this play if you tried but I sure as hell am not complaining about it.
- Zach Hyman restored the Oilers’ lead (3-2) after a hard-working shift that saw his line get the cycle going in the offensive zone, move the puck around effectively, and eventually sink it into the net on the back of a juicy rebound.
- After looking like the Hockey Gords were preventing him from ever scoring again, Jesse Puljujarvi got the monkey off his back with a lucky bounce goal (4-2) from the slot after Evan Bouchard’s point shot took a friendly bounce into the net off his shin pad.
- Connor McDavid capped off a three-point night (5-2) with an empty-net goal to nail the coffin shut and reclaim the lead in the NHL scoring race.
- After picking up shutouts in his last two games, it was no surprise to see Mike Smith back between the pipes for a third consecutive start. Unfortunately, Smith wasn’t able to tack on a third straight shutout, but the good news is that he played very well once again, and he rode that performance to a seventh straight victory. I mean, how good has this guy been lately? Smith finished the night with 34 saves and a .944 save%. His shutout streak, unfortunately, came to an end at 144:39 minutes which is good for the 7th longest in franchise history.
- How about that hit by Darnell Nurse that put Jamie Benn into the bench? You don’t see those very often and that hit was about as good as it gets.
- If I’m the Oilers, I’m thinking about extending Evan Bouchard long-term because the guy just hit 40 points after picking up another two-point night. It’s not going to get any cheaper, people.
- I also wanted to give Duncan Keith some love after finishing his night with a +5 rating in 17:24 of TOI. I know that +/- isn’t a great stat by any means, but I do think it’s notable that he was on the ice for all five of his team’s goals.
- How about some more love for the Oilers’ PK after they killed off two of two shorthanded situations?
- The Oilers dominated the Corskis after outshooting the Stars by a 50-36 margin.
- The spreadsheet scuttlebutt was steamy and sassy after the Oilers finished with a 62.49 CF% and a 72.07 xGF%.
- The Oilers’ Magic Number is now at 2 but could fall to one depending on what happens with Vegas/Washington.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jason Robertson pulled the Stars back into the game (2-1) with a goal from the slot after his shot rode up Kulak’s stick and into the top corner. Robertson ended up being a bit of an Oilers killer this season as he ended up with goals in all three games of the season series.
- Roope Hintz tied the game (2-2) early in the second period after he found a loose puck laying in the crease that Mike Smith thought he had covered and easily poked it over the line.
- Unfortunately, the Oilers weren’t able to get anything done on the lone chance they had with the man advantage. Personally, I don’t know how they only got one chance but that’s a conversation for another day.
- Only 48% in the faceoff circle tonight. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose.
— Mike Stelter (@m_dan25) April 20, 2022
Brett Kulak has been on for 16 shots at the net for and 1 against.
12 shots that reached the net and 1 against.
0 goals for and 1 against.
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) April 21, 2022
— The Yukon Scott (@YukonScott) April 21, 2022
BFE = before woodie event
— dangersuede esq. (@dangersuede) April 21, 2022
— Bumblebee tuna (@sstrumy) April 21, 2022
— Mike M (@thatguymikem) April 21, 2022
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
The Oilers had an up-and-down week since my last podcast, and I walked through it all. From the heartbreaking loss to Colorado to getting dummied by Minnesota to defending Jesse Puljujarvi, I was all over the map on the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.