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Skinner shines, Nugent-Hopkins pulls off some power play king shit in Oilers 3-1 win in Game 5

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scores goal
Photo credit:Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
13 days ago
Last night the Oilers had the chance to put the Stars on the ropes in Game 5, provided they could pick up a big win on the road, something they could not do against the Canucks in the exact same situation two weeks ago. But instead of coming out flat like they did two weeks ago, the Oilers were all gas and no brakes on their way to a clinical 3-1 win at the American Airlines Arena.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS HAS A NIGHT

If the Oilers are going to get through the Dallas Stars and into the big dance, they’ll need contributions from throughout their lineup. Last night was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ turn to step up, and he came through in a big way with two massive goals on the power play, including the game-winner.
On the day when his teammates were all singing his praises, RNH made them all look like geniuses with one of his best games of the playoffs. Not only did he pick up the power play’s first two goals of the series, but he was also a big part of an Edmonton PK unit that has killed off all 11 shorthanded situations they’ve faced so far. My dude touches every area of the game for us, and last night, he got rewarded with a pair of big moments that helped put the team he’s spent 13 years on one step closer to glory.
Frankly, I couldn’t be happier for the guy. When I started covering Nuge for this website in 2011, the Oilers stunk to high heavens, and that stench didn’t get any fresher for a long while, so to have him still be here after all this time is a fantastic story. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to do before this story has the ending we want, but after a game like the one he had in Game 5 in Dallas, it’s hard not to think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t be a significant factor in how things play out.

STUART SKINNER STANDS TALL

He may have only faced 20 shots on goal on Friday night, but Stuart Skinner was sensational between the pipes for Edmonton. Stu was utterly dialled in right from the opening draw, but the way he locked things down in the third period when Dallas started pushing to climb back on the scoreboard was what stuck out the most.
He had only faced 10 shots after 40 minutes, but you knew the Stars would throw the kitchen sink at him in the third to see if they could erase the gap. Instead, Skinner looked calm and composed, whether the shots came from the outside of the ice or right in tight. He made the first and sometimes the second save, his d-men were able to clear out the trash, and it’s tough to crack that nut when the Oilers are working as a unit defensively.
Skinner finished with 19 saves and a .950 save% in the biggest start of his career. That’s a pretty cool sentence to write when we remember that he got the hook for two games in the last round. The way he rebounded from that little stretch of adversity and owned his struggles is so impressive because it seems like he’s starting to see and feel the puck well at the exact right time. There will undoubtedly be more ups and downs to come, but last night, at least, Skinner was fantastic.

PHILIP BROBERG’S FIRST PLAYOFF GOAL WAS HUGE

Isn’t it wild to think that Philip Broberg had never really played for Kris Knoblauch all that much before he was injected into the lineup for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Final? I mean, Broberg only played in four regular season games during Knobby’s time behind the bench, and yet, the coach with the biggest nuts in North America felt it would be right to toss him into the deep end.
Instead of floundering under pressure, Broberg has looked pretty damned steady in the two games he’s played for the Oilers so far. He skates well, moves the puck up ice, always seems to have his stick in the passing/shooting lanes, and last night, he got rewarded with his first ever playoff goal on a seeing-eye half-clapper from the point. That puck made its way through a handful of bodies before eventually getting the TING into the net off the post, and the thing I love most about it was that he just ripped it without taking even a second to dust it off.
I fully admit that I didn’t know what to expect about Broberg being inserted into the lineup in favour of Vinny Desharnais, but it’s hard to argue with the results we’ve seen in the two games he’s played. Despite being the low man on the TOI ladder with only 12:40 played, Broberg has looked very good and highly comfortable whenever he’s out there, and that’s huge for him, especially when you remember that there were reported trade rumours surrounding Broberg earlier in the year.

THE SPECIAL TEAMS

If the Oilers are going to win this series, they’re going to need the power play to handle at least part of the lifting. Up until Game 5, the boys had struck out on the six opportunities they’ve had with the man advantage, but the dam finally broke on Friday with a pair of goals by RNH to set the tone. When I went to Game 4 with Tyler, we talked about the Oilers’ lone power play opportunity and how it seemed like they were getting closer to making something happen, and it was fantastic to see the boys break through in their biggest road game of the year to this point.
At the other end of the ice, the Oilers’ insane run of penalty killing excellent continued as they handled both shorthanded situations they faced with relative ease. You can now make 25 straight power plays that the Oilers’ PK has killed off, and the fact that their actually +1 on the PK in this series is simply bananas. For those of us who have paid attention to this team for a long time, seeing the PK execute at this level feels almost like witchcraft after having so many years where all we could hope for was that they didn’t allow multiple goals against and sewer their night.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

 
-Wanted to give a shout out to Evander Kane for the huge faceoff win that led to Philip Broberg’s goal after Adam Henrique got waived from the circle. Kane pulled the puck back, Henrique tipped it to Broberg, and in the span of a few seconds, the Oilers found themselves up by three. That play was exactly why I love faceoffs so much. They don’t always result in goals — more often than not they don’t — but sometimes a big faceoff win gives you an opportunity, and that’s precisely what happened here.
-How about Corey Perry taking that big (clean) hit from Joe Pavelski, leaving the game, and then coming back to play a relatively effective 11:44 in TOI? You could tell there were moments when Perry looked uncomfortable with whatever was going on with his shoulder, but I also thought there was zero chance he wouldn’t return to the game, given what we know about him. The guy is a warrior, a future Hall-of-Famer, a winner, and someone who knows exactly what it takes to get this job done, and I love that he wasn’t about to let an injury take this opportunity away from him.
-Plenty of respect for Chris Tanev, who came out to play despite being spotted at the airport in a walking boot. The thing is, though, you could tell that he wasn’t anywhere close to 100% even though he played 19:12 in TOI. Tanev wasn’t as physically engaged as he normally is, and there were stretches where he was missing shifts or even having them cut in half. From my perspective, Tanev wasn’t as mobile as he usually is and you could tell that the Oilers weren’t hesitating to attack his side of the ice when they had the chance.
The NHL site had the Oilers listed with 25 blocked shots in Game 5, but I’d swear that number was higher based on how often the boys were throwing their bodies in front of pucks. I love seeing the boys sacrificing for each other and buying into what it takes to win at this point in the season, and I couldn’t be more pumped about the
-I can’t be upset that the Oilers won only 49% of the faceoffs they took because it’s basically a coin flip at that point. Do I want them to be well over 50%? Yes. Is 49% the worst result that can happen? No.

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