The Day After 43.0: The Oilers understood the assignment in Anaheim

Photo credit:© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
10 months ago
That was a must-win game for the Edmonton Oilers.
Following an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Kings to kick off their potentially season-changing four-game swing through California and Nevada, the Oilers came into Anaheim with two points on a silver platter in front of them.
The Ducks are skating through a miserable season and clearly wish the All-Star break would start already. But as we learned back in December when Anaheim rolled into Edmonton and pulled off a shocking 4-3 win, nothing in this league is guaranteed.
The Oilers came out fast and strong, trying to bury their opponents early. Dylan Holloway, who was elevated to play on a line with Connor McDavid for the first time, took advantage of the opportunity and opened the scoring.
They didn’t slow down after that, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 20th goal of the season to make the score 2-0 under five minutes into the game. After the Ducks pulled the game to within one goal, the Oilers popped off with two more goals of their own to exit the first frame with a commanding 4-1 lead.
The Oilers would wind up cruising to a 6-2 win, with McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, Klim Kostin, and defenceman Evan Bouchard leading the way with two points each, while Jack Campbell stopped 21 of 23 shots along the way.
“We needed to get back in the win column. That’s the main thing,” Connor McDavid said after the game. “To put together a good game is always good and something to build on.”
“I thought we controlled play from the start,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We got contributions from lots of different people, and special teams were excellent for us tonight. That’s a recipe for a good win for us.”


Parting notes…

  • Evander Kane’s return appears to be right around the corner so this might not last long, but it was nice to see Dylan Holloway finally get a shot alongside Connor McDavid. The rookie has pushed the puck in the right direction quite a bit as of late despite playing with checkers in the bottom-six and he deserved a look on a skill line. Holloway delivered Edmonton’s opening goal, which featured him doing what a McDavid winger needs to do, which is to go to the net with your stick on the ice.
  • Vincent Desharnais, a rookie who started in the ECHL on a minor-league deal and worked his way to the big-league club, had a very steady debut. He logged 15:04 in all situations and had an on-ice shot attempt differential of 16-to-8, and wasn’t on the ice for either of Anaheim’s goals. The Oilers ran a seven-defender blender, which seems to often be a recipe for success for them, and Desharnais’ most common partner was Darnell Nurse. The two of them logged 5:58 together at evens and outshot the Ducks 8-to-1.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 20th goal of the season in the first period against the Ducks, making the Oilers the first team this season to have four different 20-goal scorers. Nugent-Hopkins is just eight goals shy of matching the career-high of 28 goals set back in 2018-19.
  • After allowing a whopping four goals to the Kings on the penalty kill the other night, the Oilers tightened things up and killed off all three of Anaheim’s power plays. It should be pointed out that the lowly Ducks boast the league’s second-worst power play, but having a perfect penalty kill after the mess in Los Angeles is encouraging.

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