31
Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: The Oilers Can Handle The Best In The West

The Edmonton Oilers came into Friday night’s game with a big task — beat the best team in the Western Conference, arguably the NHL, and you’re in the playoffs.

They did exactly that.

Valeri Nichushkin opened the scoring in the first period and Colorado skated into the intermission with a 1-0 lead. In the second, the Oilers exploded with four goals, led by a hat-trick by Evander Kane. Edmonton would add two more goals in the third period to run away with a 6-3 victory.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It was Edmonton’s first win against the Avs this season, as Colorado earned an overtime and a shootout win over the Oilers in their other two meetings this season. You can call it a well-timed slaying of the dragon.

While the Avs appeared to be the better team based on shots on goal, that doesn’t actually tell the full story. The Oilers were the better team in terms of possession, besting Colorado 43-to-38 in shot attempts, and they were superior at converting their possession into high-danger scoring chances, as they dominated the Avs 11-to-4 on that front.

The offence, especially the quick hat-trick from Kane, is what stands out, but this was a very impressive effort from the Oilers in terms of team defence. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Avs average roughly 11 high-danger chances per game at even strength, so holding them to just four is really something.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

What they said…

“Any time you join a team halfway through the season, it’s going to take you more than a couple of games to really get your game to where it was maybe the previous year. I’m continuing to develop some chemistry with my linemates. That takes a little bit of time, but I really like where things are at right now and I’ll just try to keep building on that.” – Evander Kane, on joining the Oilers mid-season. 

“In a perfect world we would have liked for our season to have been a little more even-keeled, probably. But sometimes that is the way it goes. At the end of the day we are in. That is all that matters. That was goal No. 1. We are happy about that and proud of ourselves, but we are long from done.” – Leon Draisaitl, on clinching a playoff spot. 

“We talk about adversity all the time, and there are two ways to go about it. You can feel sorry for yourself, or grab it and do something about it. And I really feel like going through the tough times this year really made this team stick together, grow and understand what it takes to win tight hockey games.

It’s easy to just stop playing when things are going bad, and give in. But it’s hard to battle through those tough times and to do something with it. Do something about it,” he said, “There are going to be times in the playoffs when it’s not going to go your way. But you’ve just got to stick with it, stick together as a group and good things will happen.” – Mike Smith, on overcoming struggles earlier in the season. 

Worth mentioning…

  • Evander Kane scored the fourth hat-trick of his NHL career and, in doing so, reached the 20-goal plateau in his seventh consecutive season. Kane now has 20 goals in 39 games since joining the Oilers, which is a 42-goal pace over the course of an 82-game schedule. You’d have to go back to 2005-06 in order to find a mid-season pick-up who has had as much of an impact on the Oilers as Kane has.

  • The Oilers have now reached the playoffs in three consecutive seasons for the first time since they made the playoffs five years in a row between 1996-97 and 2000-01. With one more win, they’ll become the eighth Oilers team ever to reach 100 points in the standings and just the second non-80s Oilers team to do so. Can they catch the 2016-17 team, who finished with 103 points? They’re five points back with four games left to go.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau picked up two points in the Florida Panthers’ win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, while Connor McDavid picked up three points in the win over Colorado. McDavid leads the league with 116 points while Huberdeau is at 113. The Oilers have four more games left and the Panthers have five. Also, with just one more point, McDavid will set a new career-high, besting the 116-point mark he set in 2018-19.