The Day After 51.0: Goals in big moments lead Edmonton Oilers to win over Dallas Stars

Photo credit:Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
For arguably the first time in the Kris Knoblauch era, we’ve seen something new from him as of late: the line blender.
And while it hasn’t led to night-in, night-out changes like early this season or years past, his willingness to tweak things has increased. Where it landed on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues was a top line of Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Corey Perry.
While they scored a late one in that game, they remained together Saturday afternoon as the Oilers paid a visit to the Dallas Stars. They turned out to be the difference maker in a 4-3 OT win for the Copper and Blue.
A scoreless first period saw both sides trade blows, before a six-goal second period blew the game wide open. Punch for punch, the two teams exchanged goals starting with Mason Marchment getting Dallas on the board 1:08 into that period. Evan Bouchard would respond with a goal of his own less than a minute later, before Thomas Harley regained Dallas’ lead at the 4:47 mark.
But two minutes later, the Oilers would respond. Perry would drive to the net, opening up a cross-ice season for Draisaitl to find McDavid, before he sent it down low to Perry, deflecting it in past Stars netminder Jake Oettinger.
“I think it was pretty fun. They’re two tremendous players,” said Perry of his promotion to the top line. “They see the ice well, and I was the beneficiary on that goal. They’re two world class players.”


Derek Ryan, with 1:18 left in the period, would score a shorthanded goal, and Matt Duchene would respond on the same power play opportunity, tying this one all up at three at the end of two.
The third period was much like the first: a solid defensive period, where both sides worked to find their way. So much so that this one would get sent to overtime. Wyatt Johnston would hook Draisaitl just 23 seconds into the extra frame, and you can guess what happened next.
Leon Draisaitl would feed Evan Bouchard, walking the blue line and freezing a Stars penalty killer before walking down and ripping the game-winner home.
“He’s been playing really well, and tonight was probably his best game I’ve seen him play in the last couple weeks,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch. He’s very dangerous when he has the puck. We talk about his ability to fire the puck and getting the big bomb, those big heavy shots.
“A lot of his goals are just little sifters, wristers from the point and that last one, he makes a little move walking the line, freezes the forward and then rips a nice little wrist shot inside the post. Also, (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) was in front of the goalie and provided a really good screen in front. He’s able to get shots through like that.”
For Bouchard, his two-goal performance was a big one, as he not only set a career-high in markers with his first of the game, but added to it with his second.
But above it all, this was the kind of game the Oilers desperately needed. Coming off the backs of a disheartening performance where they were worked by the Blues, a team fighting to stay in the playoff mix. The Stars, meanwhile, are no slouch, leading the league in goals scored and looking dominant all season long. After all, they are right near the top of the NHL’s standings.
“I thought they responded very well,” said Knoblauch. “In the second period, Dallas started taking over and I thought we regrouped after the second, and play a really strong period in the third.
“A lot of credit to the guys, where we talked about how dangerous Dallas is off the rush and score a lot of goals that way. I thought we did a really good job on the forecheck, d-pinching when it was there, and when not to. Ultimately, the biggest thing is probably the forwards and how hard they worked back.”
Next up for the Oilers is a trip to Mullett Arena in Arizona to take on a Coyotes team who play infinitely better at home than on the road. Much like any night, the Oilers can’t afford to take this team lightly.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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