GDB 10.0 Wrap Up: Oilers extend winning streak to five games with dominant 7-4 win over the Predators
By baggedmilk10 months ago
Leon Draisaitl, President and CEO of the Nashville Predators. Final Score: 7-4 Oilers
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Over the last handful of years, the Edmonton Oilers have basically run the show in their matchups with the Nashville Predators — Leon Draisaitl has been an absolute warlord with 25 points in their last 20 meetings — and that had me looking for another chapter in that same movie tonight at Rogers Place. Not only are the boys riding a four-game winning streak but the Preds have also lost six of their last seven games, and continue to struggle after coming home from Europe where they kicked off the year with two games against the Sharks. From my side of the TV screen, I saw this game as an opportunity for the Oilers to kick a team while they’re down and keep the streak alive. So when Jack Campbell gave one up only 34 seconds into the game, I didn’t even sweat it. Sure, that wasn’t exactly the start we would have drawn up, but it didn’t take long for the home side to battle their way back into a tie game before ripping the lead away. In the span of only 3:37, the Oilers went from being down by one to up by two and they weren’t even done there. Frankly, I couldn’t have dreamt up a better response if I tried.
Heading into the second period with a three-goal lead in their pocket, the biggest thing on my Coach Baggedmilk to-do list was for the Oilers to keep the pedal to the floor and not give Nashville any room to claw their way back. No mercy, no surrender. And seeing as we knew the Preds were going to hit the ice with a chip on their shoulder, finding a way to weather any early storm was job number one. Ready to go from the opening draw, the Predators hit the ice with all of the pace and urgency we expected but couldn’t get any of their early chances to stick, which was the daylight the Oilers needed to start nailing the coffin shut. While the goals didn’t flow quite as freely in period two, the boys were able to cash in one of their multiple power play chances to extend the lead to four and put the Predators further in the rearview mirror. Even when Johanson scored to pull Nashville back to within three, it never felt like the Oilers were ever in trouble of losing control.
Up by a field goal with a period to play, the best thing the Oilers could do was continue playing as they had been through the first 40 minutes. While certainly not perfect, Edmonton was far and away the better hockey team in this game and if they could just keep it together for a little while longer then we’d be tucking two more points in the bank and adding another ‘W’ to our streak. But as we know all too well, the job’s not done until the final buzzer sounds and there was no way the Predators were going to roll over and die. As expected, they started the third period like a house on fire, pushed the pace offensively, and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see them battling tooth and nail as they tried to claw their way back into the game. The good news is that the Oilers were able to counterpunch any time the Predators landed something, and that resilience allowed them to navigate any of the challenges thrown their way. Rather than being slump busters, the Oilers found a way to beat a team that’s struggling, and for me, it’s a detail that’s nearly as important as picking up the two points. Good teams beat the ones that aren’t playing well, and that’s exactly what happened tonight at Rogers Place.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Shortly after Ekholm’s opener, Evander Kane tied the game (1-1) with a beautiful deke after Leon Draisaitl found him alone in the slot with a laserbeam of a backhand pass. Beautifully executed by Kane and Draisaitl. Kane added a second goal just over three minutes later (2-1) with a one-touch shot from the slot after — guess who — Leon Draisaitl found him with some space and a lane to fire the puck. Kane completed the hat trick (7-4) with just over a minute and a half left in the game after McDavid and Draisaitl did a very nice job of setting him up for the shot. Remember when Kane gave McDavid the hat trick on opening night? Favour repaid.
- Only 26 seconds after Kane’s second goal, Connor McDavid extended the lead (3-1) with a quick little snipe from the circle after Zach Hyman’s chip pass near centre ice gave the captain time, space, and an open look on net that he did not waste. McDavid added a power play goal (5-1) midway through the second period after Draisaitl snapped a draw right back to him in the circle and he rifled a quick shot past Saros.
- Still in the first period somehow, Derek Ryan picked up his first goal of the year (4-1) as the business end of a beautiful passing play that saw Tyson Barrie do a little dangle in the slot before making a perfect backhanded pass to set up the tap-in.
- Despite already having three points on the night, Leon Draisaitl didn’t have a goal yet so he fixed that (6-3) with a power play snipe from the slot after Nugent-Hopkins found him with a beautiful pass that the former MVP teed off on. If I was the Nashville Predators I would simply put Leon Draisaitl’s face on their jerseys, which would be a fitting tribute to a man that owns them at every turn. What else can you say about the guy after putting up five points (1G, 4) on the night?
- Markus Niemelainen just seems to be getting better and better, doesn’t he? It’s not that he’s overly flashy or anything like that, but he’s quietly steady and I appreciate that from a guy that’s just learning the ropes. Nemo finished with 13:25 in TOI, four shots on goal, three hits, and one block.
- If you’re going to mess around with the Oilers’ power play then you’re going to get burned, and that’s exactly what happened to the Predators after the good guys tagged them for two goals on six opportunities with the man advantage.
- Oilers picked up a Corskis win after outshooting Nashville by a 37-23 margin.
- How can you not love that the Oilers won 54% of the faceoffs? Beautiful.
PRESENTED BY BETWAY
THE FACE PALMERS
- Mattias Ekholm opened the scoring only 34 seconds in after Campbell directed a bouncing shot rebound right to his stick. I know I’ve defended Campbell a bunch of times over the last week or so, but that was obviously not the start he wanted to have. That said, there was no one around Ekholm for a country mile so… way she goes.
- Ryan Johanson kept the Predators in the fight with a power play goal (5-2) that saw the big centreman park himself in the slot and get his stick on Josi’s shot-pass, deflecting it perfectly through Campbell. It was the exact goal that we saw the Sedins score countless times for the Canucks over the years.
- Philip Forsberg cut the lead to two goals (5-3) with a one-timer bomb that Campbell got a piece of but just couldn’t quite get to. Frankly, I’m giving Forsberg credit on this one because I don’t know what else the goalie could have done there.
- Nino Niederreiter pulled Nashville back to within a pair (6-4) with a second power play goal that looked incredibly similar to the one Johanson scored in the second. Same Josi shot-pass, same deflection from the slot that beat Campbell upstairs.
- While it was great to see the Oilers’ PK shut the Flames out on Saturday, they were back to giving up goals tonight against the Predators. The Oily Boys gave up goals on both shorthanded situations they faced. Not good.
- I’m not one of those people that thinks the Oilers need goons in their lineup, but I do admit that it would be nice to have more sandpaper on the roster for games like these. Just me?
- If you care about hits, Nashville threw a lot of them — 60 to 27 according to the NHL — but that also meant they didn’t have the puck a lot.
- Not gonna lie, when Jack Campbell allowed a goal only 34 seconds into the game, I was worried about a few of the clips from today’s episode of Oilersnation Radio aging like milk in a hot car. Thankfully, he settled down a little bit as the game wore on but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the run of 3+ goal games he’s had so far this season. Then again, Campbell has also won four of his last five starts, so we’re getting the results we want but it would absolutely be nice for all of us if he could lock one down sooner than later. Campbell finished the night with 19 saves and a .826 save%.
- I liked seeing Jesse Puljujarvi mix it up at the end of the game, but that was about as noticeable as he was against the Predators. I like Jesse a whole lot and think he can be part of the solution, but I also think he has more to offer than what we’re getting right now.
- Before anyone suggests I’m singling Puljujarvi out, I also think Kailer Yamamoto needs to find a way to finish on some of his opportunities if he’s going to stick with Draisaitl and Kane. I know he’s contributing with hustle and takeaways — I love both of those things very much — but he also needs to chip in with some offence from time to time.
Talk to me, Twitter. Hit me up at @jsbmbaggedmilk and Wanye at @Oilersnation and you could find yourself landing in this very spot.
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