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The Day After: Specialty teams, secondary scoring, and timely goaltending

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
11 months ago
Three things were key in the Edmonton Oilers slump-breaking victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets: specialty teams, secondary scoring, and timely goaltending.
The timely goaltending was in thanks to Stuart Skinner, who stood on his head turning aside 36 shots including a number in a frantic start to the game.
The secondary scoring came from Derek Ryan and Brendan Perlini, both of whom scored in the game.
Lastly, the Oilers special teams played a huge part with Jesse Puljujarvi scoring twice there and Edmonton killing off the three penalties they took.
“It’s not the start we wanted — I’m just stealing some of the talk in the back room there,” said associate coach Glen Gulutzan when assessing the Oilers start to the game before adding, “specialty teams, secondary scoring, and timely goaltending” as three keys to the win.
Talk about getting off the schneid in a 5-2 win.
Edmonton did exactly what they needed to do, in a sense. While they looked flustered in the first few minutes leading to an untimely too many men on the ice call at the 1:12 mark, they rebounded nicely. Skinner made some big saves and got himself right into the game quickly.
The Oilers killed the penalty and got right back to work. Simultaneously, Kailer Yamamoto drew a tripping call and Blue Jacket’s forward took a playing without a helmet penalty at the 6:19 mark.
Five-on-three for two minutes time. Jesse Puljujarvi scored on both, and the Oilers were off the races. They kept attacking, looking confident as they needed to before Derek Ryan scored at the 11:07 mark making the visiting Columbus team feel much like the Oilers have felt of late.
“I thought that line was real good,” said Gulutzan of the third line of Brendan Perlini, Derek Ryan and Zack Kassian. “You look at Derek Ryan’s stat line there, 64% I think on draws, 13 some minutes of ice time, and a good, gritty goal right in front of the net.
“We talked about that, getting into the blue paint and tough areas. I thought with Pearls (Perlini) there too, great finish. I thought he won some battles. He didn’t get in there early, but he put a lot of pucks to the net. I thought that line was good, we used them right to the end.”
Perlini did put a lot on the net, seven shots, exactly. He spoke after the game about how a brief two-game stint in the minors helped his confidence.
“Any times you get the minutes down there, I played 20-plus
both games, you get a lot of puck touches and the feeling back,” he said. “For me, I noticed down there, the same thing — seven, eight shots on goal.
“I was trying to do the same thing up here replicate it, get pucks to the net and good things will happen. Luckily, tonight it did.”
The Oilers as a whole should feel confident. A slump-busting win like the one last night should be the exact kind of motivation the team needs facing a very important stretch of hockey.
Edmonton takes a one-game trip to visit the Seattle Kraken Saturday, before returning home to face the Anaheim Ducks. Then, three more massively important games follow on the road: Los Angeles, San Jose and Calgary. While the last game is up in the air pending their COVID-19 battle, this is an important stretch.
Against the Pacific Division this year, the Oilers have a 7-2 record. Points count any night, but they’re doubly important against division foes.

Backhanders…

  • Warren Foegele has looked really good on the Oilers top line alongside Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi. He got off the schneid with an empty-net goal, and I could see more come his way soon. He should stay up on that top line, and I’ll have more on that later today.
  • Skinner is looking all the part of an NHL goaltender. On the season, he’s appeared in nine games posting a 3-5 record allowing 2.67 GAA, a .922 save percentage and a 2.83 goals saved above average — all being the best numbers on the team. Among 46 goaltenders who have played as many minutes as he, his GAA ranks 20th, his save percentage ranks 14th and his GSAA ranks 20th. There’s something here.

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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@oilersnation.com.

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