Calvin Pickard shines, and offence from the defence leads the way in Oilers 4-0 win over the Penguins

4 months ago
I don’t know about you, dearest Internet friends, but these last two Oilers losses to Columbus and Buffalo bothered me a lot. Both of those teams are on the outside of the playoff chase right now, and the last thing I expected was for our beloved Edmonton Oilers to punt both games, picking up only one of a possible four points. Thankfully, the Oilers were more up to standard against what looked like a deflated Penguins team, dominating most of the game and sweeping the season series with a convincing 4-0 win.


Calvin Pickard was back between the pipes for his 14th appearance of the season and looking to provide his team with a repeat performance of the start he gave against the Penguins a week ago. This time, however, the stakes were slightly different as the Oilers were looking to stop their losing streak at two games instead of extending a heater.
Yet, even though he was in a different spot that he was last weekend, the result was even better the second time around. All game long, Pickard was there to cover up any mistakes that happened in front of him, including some very strong work while the team was shorthanded. Pickard was fantastic in every way, and it’s be really fun to watch him have some success even though so many people doubt that he’ll be able to handle the job. I’m not saying that he’s the perfect backup, but he was today.
The only downside of this game for Pickard is that he doesn’t really get credit for the shutout he earned because of the 1:18 Stuart Skinner had to play as a result of the concussion spotter yanking him out. According to Sportsnet, the game will be listed as a joint shutout for Pickard and Skinner, but I still wanted to give Pickard all the love he deserves for stopping all 40 shots he faced.


I love Mattias Ekholm. The guy does so many things well on the back end that it’s almost getting to the point where we need to be talking about him more. His blast from the boards in the first period that put the Oilers up 2-0 was an absolute rocket, and all of a sudden, Big Swedish Daddy has five goals and 28 points on the season. I know he hadn’t scored since December 6th against Carolina, but it’s fun to remember that there’s more offence in the big man that always comes as a nice compliment to what he does on the defensive side of the puck.
Midway through the third period, Darnell Nurse picked up his first goal since January 11th against the Detroit Red Wings when he jumped into the slot and cashed in the pass from Connor McDavid. Nurse’s first goal in a couple of months came at the perfect time, putting the Oilers 3-0 on the scoreboard and giving some room to breathe. And with the first one felt so good, Nurse decided to do it again, cashing in his second goal of the game on a second snipe from the slot.


I was pretty excited to see Connor McDavid pick up his second goal in as many games versus the Penguins. Not only was his shot that beat Jarry a snipe, but it also got him back on the scoresheet after being shutout yesterday in Buffalo. Connor obviously hasn’t been scoring at the same clip as we’ve grown accustomed to, but that’s also why I was so pumped to see him pick one up with that sneaky wrister of his.
Of course, McDavid wasn’t done with what ended up being the game-winning goal either, as he added a pair of assists to wrap up his 12th three-point game of the season. Now with 103 points (24G, 79A) on the season, McDavid is only 47 away from the 1000 point mark with 19 games to play in the 2023-24 campaign. How close do you think he gets? I don’t know if he’ll be able to put up that many points when less than a quarter of the season to go, but I can tell you right here and now that I wouldn’t bet against him.


-He didn’t get a point on the board, but I still thought this was the best game Evander Kane has played in a minute. Above the three shots on goal, Kane was throwing his body around, making plays, and likely deserved better than to register no points. In 14:51 worth of TOI, Kane was very effective and I’d love to see more games like this from him over the last quarter of the season.
-Another road game, another example of the Oilers’ power play struggling. Despite having four opportunities with the man advantage, the boys couldn’t get anything to click from them as they continue to search for answers for why things aren’t working for them on the road. On the bright side, Edmonton’s penalty kill was perfect on Sunday, handling all five shorthanded situations they faced. It was a tale of two special teams units in this one.
-What was John Ludvig thinking when he jumped Warren Foegele after his missed stick lift attempt hit Erik Karlsson in the face? That had to be one of the dumbest instigator penalties that I’ve ever seen. Even though that “fight” was unnecessary in every way, it did seem to up the temperature for the rest of the game.
-Have you been yearning for the faceoff numbers? You have, haven’t you? Good news, friends, I won’t make you wait any longer before sadly advising that the Oilers won only 42.9% of the draws. Sad panda.


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