The Day After 63.0: Edmonton Oilers position themselves to climb standings in March

Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 months ago
It feels wrong watching the Pittsburgh Penguins these days.
Once a franchise that was the face of the league, they now are the face of what can go wrong. And on Sunday, Oilers fans watched as Connor McDavid and co. beat up on Sidney Crosby and co. for the second time in a week.
A week ago Sunday, it was a 6-1 win for the Oilers, while yesterday, it was a 4-0 win. Both equally promising for the Oilers, and both equally damning for the Penguins.
Yesterday’s matinee saw the Oilers jump out to an early lead. Kris Letang had an awful turnover in his zone, trying to stretch a pass McDavid jumped on. While McDavid’s goal-scoring is down this season, thanks to fewer of his shot attempts hitting the net than normal, he made no mistake on this one, snapping a shot past Tristian Jarry.
A little under eight minutes later, another goal. This one was a long blast from the point by Mattias Ekholm, which had eyes for the back of the net the second it left his stick.
This was the point in the game when everybody felt their throats tighten up a bit. After all, on Saturday, the Oilers built a 2-0 lead over the Buffalo Sabres, failing to get a third as they came back to win 3-2 in the shootout. As weird as it may sound, the Oilers never had much to worry about.


Pittsburgh, clearly reeling as their season winds up, with star winger Jake Guentzel now about to suit up for the Carolina Hurricanes, is a shell of its former self. The Oilers were able to stay up all game. In the third period, two goals from Darnell Nurse extended their lead, allowing them to walk away with two points instead of just one.
The Oilers have now secured points in five of six games in March, positioning themselves to continue a strong run throughout the month. The ability for that comes with the teams Edmonton will face. Of the remaining nine opponents they face, just four sit in a playoff spot: the Avalanche, the Maple Leafs, the Jets, and the LA Kings. The others? The Capitals, who they will square off against on Wednesday, the Canadiens, the Sabres, the Senators, and the Ducks.
Edmonton has yet to face Colorado this season, so the upcoming meeting will be their first. Edmonton has gone 1-0 against the Leafs, with a 4-2 win, and are 1-0-1 against the Jets with a 3-1 win, and 3-2 overtime loss. The Oilers and Kings have squared off in three very different games this season: one where the Oilers won a tight game in the shootout 3-2, another where the Kings handily won 4-3, while a third where Edmonton won 4-2.
Most notably, the Oilers return to Edmonton now, where they will host a four-game homestand as the Capitals, Avalanche, Canadiens, and Sabres visit.

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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