The Day After 64.0: Edmonton Oilers power play gets back on track

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
3 months ago
I’m sorry Edmonton Oilers power play, I was not familiar with your game.
After all, heading into last night’s game against the Washington Capitals, the Oilers top power play unit was on a 0-for-17 run. Owch.
It took all of 1:05 for the Oilers to draw their first call of the game — a double-minor as Caps centre Nic Dowd drew blood high-sticking Darnell Nurse — and Edmonton’s power play got to work. Winding like a windmill, Leon Draisaitl fired shot after shot after shot before, finally, one went in.
The top unit would add two more power play goals before the clock hit 0:00, and the Oilers walked out of Rogers Place back in the win column with a dominant 7-2 victory.
Much has been made of a poor man-advantage run for the Oilers. A big part of it was the fact that the Oilers had been on a tough travel stretch, playing six games in six different cities over nine days, and there have been big splits in their power play success.
Heading into last night’s game, the Oilers’ power play had been operating at a 34 percent clip at home ice, the best mark in the league. On the road? 18.2 percent and 21st in the league.
“I think people maybe overreacted a bit,” said Leon Draisaitl, gesturing at the members of the media scrum around him. “We have a really good power play, we know that, but sometimes it just doesn’t go in, or sometimes we’re not sharp and we’re not good on it. We were lacking on it the last couple games, but at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, we have a good power play. Wwe can rely on it, (but) it was nice to get off the schneid.”
And get off the schneid they did, going 3/4 and boosting that home power play number up to 35.9 percent.
A big part of the Oilers’ identity for years has been their power play. Even beyond last year’s record-setting number, they have been able to punish opposing teams for years. This recent stretch, however, has shown that they can still win games without it, going 3-1-1 amid that 0-for-17 stretch for the top unit.
Edmonton didn’t just score on the power play last night either. Zach Hyman, who had the third power play goal of the night, capped off a hat trick performance with a marker in thanks to deflecting an Evan Bouchard point shot with some part of his lower body. The other two goals of his natural hat trick came at 5×5 play.
Heading into the third period carrying a comfortable 5-2 lead, the Oilers didn’t let up. Warren Foegele would score at the 10:43 mark, finishing off a tic-tac-toe, as Ryan McLeod and Draisaitl chipped in assists helping that trio remain productive scoring their second 5×5 goal in the last three games they’ve been put back together.
And then, the goal. Connor Brown breaking a drought that has seen him go goal-less through the first 54 games of the season. With time to reflect on the nearly two-minute long standing ovation he got, Brown talked after the game about getting the monkey off his back.
“It meant a lot,” he said of the fans cheering and even chucking hats on the ice. “You play in a big market like this, they’re aware of the storylines. It means a lot. Obviously, it’s been a struggle this year offensively, I haven’t been able to get one to go, so for their kind of support to shine through there, they’re rooting for me, so it’s a good feeling.”
Brown has received support from his coaching staff and teammates along the way, but he said the fans have also helped keep his spirits up.
“There has been a lot of positive interaction around town, lots of ‘it’s coming,'” he said. The ones you get are really positive and supportive. It’s been great. It’s been nice to hear that from the fans, but sometimes it’s a reminder that it’s been tough.
“Like I said, it’s nice to get on the board and just go out and play now.”
There’s no better time than now for Brown’s offensive game to shake loose. Edmonton has needed more offense out of its bottom-six group, so Brown, Kane, and Adam Henrique — who added a secondary assist and his first point with the Oilers — could become a trio that helps chip in more for this club.
The win over Washington kicks off a four-game homestand for the Oilers. They will next host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night and then Montreal and Buffalo next week on Tuesday and Thursday.

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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