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Instant Reaction: Edmonton Oilers get back into the win column with commanding win over Pittsburgh Penguins

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Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
After dropping back-to-back games against non-playoff teams, the Oilers are back in the win column as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-0. With the win, the Oilers move to 81 points, six ahead of the Los Angeles Kings (third in the division) and 10 behind the Vancouver Canucks with three games in hand.
The Oilers opened the scoring early in the first period, as veteran defenceman Kris Letang had a horrendous giveaway, giving Connor McDavid the puck in the slot, which is less than ideal. Of course, McDavid made no mistake, picking the top corner to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
Mid-way through the first period, the Oilers established zone control, with Mattias Ekholm eventually finding his way on the other side of the ice for the one-timer.  It was the 33-year-old’s fifth goal of the season and one of a few goals from an Oiler defenceman on Sunday.
Fast-forward to the third period, when the Penguins were still in the game. With just over nine minutes left, McDavid won a puck battle along the boards and found Darnell Nurse, who was all alone at the hashmark. With a nice wrister, he beat the Penguins goalie for his seventh goal of the game.
With just four minutes left in the game and just after a power play, Nurse made a nice play at the line to keep the puck in the zone. He gave it to Ekholm, rotated behind him, got the puck back, and buried his second goal of the game. He was bidding for a natural hat trick in the dying seconds, but Jarry saved it.

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Things worth mentioning…

Calvin Pickard picked up his second shutout of the season, as he turned aside all of the 41 shots he faced. It was a nice one for Pickard, who had his shutout bid come to an end in the latter part of the third period in last weekend’s win over the Penguins in Edmonton. 
However, this was technically a shared shutout, as he was called to concussion protocol and Stuart Skinner played the final few minutes of the second period. In fact, this was the first shared shutout for the Oilers since January 1985 against the Québec Nordiques, which featured Andy Moog and Grant Fuhr combining to make 28 stops. 
After having his consecutive games with a point streak snapped in Saturday’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Connor McDavid got back on the scoresheet with a goal and two assists. As it stands, McDavid has 103 points on the season, he trails Nathan MacKinnon (111 points) and Nikita Kucherov (107 points). He’s still in the race, but needs more games like this.
Edmonton’s defence scored three of the team’s four goals on Saturday. Pairing Nurse with Vincent Desharnais and Brett Kulak with Cody Ceci has looked good, but I’m still worried about the right side of the defence come playoff time. Nurse seems to unlock more offence in his game playing with Desharnais. It’ll also be interesting to see when Troy Stecher makes his debut with the Oilers. 
Up next… Edmonton will return home to face the Washington Capitals at 8:00 PM MT on Wednesday Night Hockey. It’ll be a bit of a rest week for the Oilers, as they’ll have two days off before and after the game against the Capitals. It also kicks off a four-game home stand, where they’ll host the Colorado Avalanche, Montréal Canadiens, and the Buffalo Sabres.

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