GDB 52.0 Wrap Up: Oilers take the money and run after stealing a 4-3 win against the Panthers
By baggedmilk9 months ago
Mikko Koskinen, we speak your name! Final Score: 4-3 Oilers
We all knew when we looked at this schedule that this three-game run against the Lightning, Panthers, and Hurricanes would be a gauntlet for the Oilers, and one that would require their best if they were going to stay afloat. In round one, the Oilers skaters handled their end of the bargain and pushed the defending champs until the final buzzer, but they just couldn’t get the saves needed to close out the win. Against the Panthers, we needed the effort AND the goaltending. Unfortunately, what we got through the first 20 minutes was a barrage of Florida chances and shots that really backed the Oilers into a corner, and had it not been for Mikko Koskinen then we could have easily found ourselves down by more than a single goal by the time the intermission rolled around. Even though it was the Oilers that actually scored first, there was no denying that it was the Panthers that were running the show and all I could hope was that our boys would find a way to settle things down as the game wore on.
Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to find a way to get back into the fight and that meant not only finding a way to get more done offensively but also avoiding giving up so much in their own end. I mean, the Panthers were absolutely dummying the boys in the defensive zone and that had to change immediately, or else this was going to be a very long morning. And in the early moments, I thought we were in for another dose of humbling as the Panthers seemed to pick right back up where they left off, but once again, Koskinen was up for the challenge and kept his team in the fight. Put another way, Koskinen was the only reason this game was close or within reach. As a result, having their goalie stand on his head gave the Oilers a little crack in the door to get back in the mix and they used the opportunity to burst through it like the Kool-Aid man. With three straight goals in the period, the Oilers not only erased Florida’s lead but ended up wrestling it away and giving themselves some insurance for good measure. Who saw that coming based on the way the play was going on the ice, amirite?
Up by two goals with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers were in a really good spot to come in and steal a win provided that they wouldn’t just be content to sit back and try to defend the lead. Instead, the boys needed to do what they could to keep the puck down at the other end as much as they possibly could to try and support their goaltender beyond thanking him with an edible arrangement for the exemplary work he was doing between the pipes. Hanging on for dear life is one thing, but swinging from the shoelaces until the final buzzer goes is another, ya know? The good news is that the Oilers clearly had the same idea as I did as the third period was easily the “calmest” of the game for them, and it was refreshing to see minutes melt off the clock that weren’t all jam-packed with heartstopping moments. While I’m not saying the Oilers were perfect in the final frame with the lead on the line, I will give them plenty of credit for weathering the storms that we all knew were heading their way. By no means am I suggesting the third period was perfect — those last six minutes felt like an eternity — but I do think the Oilers were as calm as they could be under the circumstances and they deserve some props for being able to close.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- @Derek Ryan opened the scoring (1-0) with a wrister through Bobrovsky’s legs after he and Warren Foegele broke into the Panthers’ zone on an odd-man rush that they executed perfectly. Ryan added a second goal midway through the second period (2-2) after taking a pass along the right-hand side of the ice and ripping a bullet up and over Bobrovsky over the glove hand. Ryan finished off his first career hat trick late in the second period (4-2) after Evander Kane found him at the side of the net with a perfect pass that he just had to gentle tap into the back of the net. Truly incredible. Anybody else notice how Ryan looks like a totally different person under Jay Woodcroft?
- @Leon Draisaitl restored the Oilers’ lead (3-2) with a power play goal after McDavid found him in his office along the boards with enough time and space to walk into the slot and bury a wrister past the goalie down low.
- Would it be too much to say that @Mikko Koskinen was the best Edmonton Oiler today? I don’t think so, right? After getting absolutely shelled for 60 minutes, it’s almost a miracle that the Oilers won this game because the Panthers were firing from everywhere any time they had a chance, and to his credit, Kostco was mostly unphased by the heavy workload. To put it mildly, this game would not have ended in a win had it not been for Koskinen and he deserves all of the love in the world for the performance he turned in today. Koskinen finished the day with 44 saves and a .936 save%.
- Two points for @Connor McDavid means he’s reclaimed the NHL scoring lead.
- The Oilers’ power play made it five straight games with a goal, which is the kind of production we need right now. Edmonton finished the day at 1-for-2 with the man advantage and I’m hoping this run of success is exactly what they need right now.
- Another wrap up means another chance for me to pump Markus Niemalainen’s tires for the way he throws the body around. Another round of congrats to the kid for picking up his first career NHL point.
- Yesterday on ON Radio, we talked about whether or not the Oilers should consider re-signing Evander Kane, and with the way he’s putting points on the board, you’d have to think Ken Holland will at least try to start that conversation.
- Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.
THE FACE PALMERS
- @Anton Lundell tied the game (1-1) on a one-touch bullet from the slot after Vatrano found him with a beautiful no-look pass that came about as a result of some shoddy defending by the boys below their own goal line.
- @Aleksander Barkov gave the Panthers the lead (2-1) with a power play goal after he found a loose puck near the goalmouth and beat William Lagesson to it before he was able to clear. Barkov got his second of the game (4-3) late in the third period with a second power play goal after Huberdeau found him for a one-timer from the circle that Koskinen had no chance of stopping.
- Once again, the Oilers’ PK was unable to shut the door when they needed to as the Panthers were able to get two goals on five chances with the man advantage. As much as it was annoying to see two goals against on the PK, you can’t be taking five penalties against a team like the Panthers either.
- The Oilers coughed up the puck far too often in their own zone and those Christmas raffles allowed the Panthers to get their cycle going and maintain zone pressure. To be honest, the fact that we didn’t get burned for it more than we did is a testament to Koskinen’s fine play and the Hockey Gords giving us some love for once.
- This was not a strong game for Evan Bouchard as he was often caught making decisions a split-second too late, and it nearly cost his team on more than one occasion.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the bench midway through the first period and did not return. When the broadcast showed the replay, it looked like RNH got twisted up along the boards and hurt his shoulder, but I’m obviously guessing at this stage. The official word from the team was an upper-body injury and that makes me think my shoulder guess is accurate.
- If you were hoping for another Corski win then you’re probably disappointed that the Panthers outshot our boys by a 47-22 margin.
- I know life wouldn’t feel right without a faceoff update, but I regret to inform you that the boys won only 46% of the draws.
- The spreadsheet report states that the Oilers finished the night with a 37.31 CF% and a 33.4 xGF%.
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