Oilers head back to Edmonton up 3-1 in the series and it feels fantastic

Edmonton Oilers pre-game warmup
5 days ago
Some folks may suggest that firing only 13 shots on net is a problem, but I say that the Oilers were just being efficient. Win by one goal or win by a million. These results are all beautiful to me.


There were plenty of Stuart Skinner doubters after Game 2, but that noise has sure quieted down over the last couple of games, hasn’t it? Last night, Skinner was everything to this team. Not only did he pick up his first career shutout, stopping all 33 shots he faced, but he also stole a game from the Kings that the Oilers could have easily lost by a field goal or more.
Yet, despite L.A.’s constant pressure, Skinner was calm between the pipes and easily handled everything that came his way. There was no panic, just rock-solid goaltending. Granted, a lot of the Kings’ shots came from the outside, but it’s tough to win when you’re getting outshot by a nearly 3:1 margin, but that didn’t matter for our boys because Stu was totally dialled in.
I hope the performances in Games 3 and 4 will quiet down some of the noise among those who doubted Skinner’s ability to steal a game. Game 2 may not have gone his way, but he was incredible in both games down here in Los Angeles.


When I got back to the hotel last night, I was cruising around Oilers Twitter, and it was interesting to see how frustrated some folks were with the boys despite picking up the win. While I would agree that it wasn’t exactly the prettiest game we’ll ever see from our boys, there were a lot of things to like, too.
The defensive structure the Oilers played with last night was remarkable, and I loved how they kept the Kings to the perimeter of the ice. Despite the shot total, there really weren’t that many grade-A chances for L.A., and the boys did a great job of blocking them from getting after any rebounds. Their structure was sound, their positioning was solid, and the Oilers did a fine job of making simple plays at times when they could have just as easily panicked.
At the end of the day, no team has ever had a perfect run to the Stanley Cup, and sometimes you have to pick up a win that was anything but a sure thing. Last night, the Oilers won a game in a hostile environment that could have quickly gone sideways, but what matters most is that we’re going back to Edmonton up 3-1 in the series. What matters most is that the Oilers are one win away from the second round, and once they get through, none of us will care how they got there.


Even though there were only two penalties called in the game, the Oilers won the special teams battle once again. On the power play, Evan Bouchard’s blast from the point made its way through traffic and past Rittich to give the Oilers what ended up being the game-winning goal. Even though the Oilers’ 5v5 play certainly left something to be desired, there is absolutely no doubting the power play.
On the PK, Brett Kulak got tagged for high sticking with under 10 minutes to play, and it was one of those moments where the Oilers’ penalty kill really needed to step up, and they did. Yeah, the Kings got a few shots on goal and a couple of looks, but the boys did a great job of clearing out the trash and ensuring there weren’t any rebound chances. In every way, the PK came up clutch when we needed a kill and stayed perfect through the first four games of the series.


-Evan Bouchard is going to be a very wealthy man in a year and change. Bouchard’s first goal of the playoffs couldn’t have come at a better time, and that blast from the point of his is am absolute gift.
-Dylan Holloway may not have scored last night, but he was really good again last night. He’s been so good in this series that it’s almost hilarious that there were any questions about whether he would get into the playoff lineup or not.
-By my count, there were more Oilers fans at last night’s game than there were on Friday, and it was fantastic to celebrate the win with so many of them.
-You want to know about faceoff wins? I’m here to tell you that the Oilers won 54.2% of the draws they took. When you start with possession it’s generally a good thing — maybe not last night — and I’m always going to be cheering for faceoffs wins.


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