The challenge for the Edmonton Oilers when the puck dropped against the Arizona Coyotes last night was to put the stench of Saturday’s embarrassing 9-5 loss to the Calgary Flames behind them and continue playing the kind of hockey fans have come to enjoy at Rogers Place of late.
After a game in which the goaltending was bad and the team’s defensive play was considerably worse, the Oilers did exactly that, checking off almost every box as they drubbed the overmatched Coyotes, who are dead-last in the entire league, on the way to a 6-1 decision and a seventh straight win at home.
Even allowing for the fact the Coyotes are far closer to lousy than good at this point, the Oilers were notably better 5-on-5 after the Flames scored all nine of their goals even up. They were better in pretty much every way they’ll have to be if they intend to get into the playoffs and make any noise when they do.
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Mikko Koskinen, who split duties with starter Mike Smith fishing all the rubber out of the net Saturday, got a first-hand look at the improvement last night. Koskinen stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced in helping the Oilers improve to 37-25-5 for 75 points as they get ready to face Todd McLellan and the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday in a game with playoff implications.

WHAT THEY SAID

Mar 28, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his first period goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place.
“It was really important that we learned a lesson from the last game,” Koskinen said. “We really wanted to bounce back. It was an embarrassing game Saturday and I think we got exactly the result that we needed. Not just the result, but the way how we played. We didn’t give up odd-man rushes and we played well. I think that’s the most important thing with the two points.
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“I think that’s the obvious reaction when you give up nine goals. You need to tighten up a little bit and we reacted really well and played a tight game like you said. They only had a couple of good chances in the game. It’s a good thing we have to keep in our mind and in our mindset going forward.”
It’ll take more of the same against the Kings and McLellan, who coached his 1,000th NHL game in a 6-1 loss to Seattle Monday. It’ll take more Connor McDavid, sitting at 98 points, more Leon Draisaitl, who pulled even with Hart Memorial Trophy shoo-in Auston Matthews at 48 goals, and more of what we saw from Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi last night.
Simply put, the Oilers did about as good a job as anybody can reasonably expect of putting Saturday’s awful effort in Cowtown in the rear-view mirror and getting their sights set on what comes next. No time to waste looking back at what’s done. It’s the Kings Wednesday, then St. Louis Saturday. It’s 67 down, 15 games to go.
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“I believe our players want to win,” said coach Jay Woodcroft, who has a 14-7-2 record since taking over from Dave Tippett. “I believe they want to continue to establish an identity that’s going to lend a team to find ways to win when it counts. I think our players are driven by that. Were we disappointed with the way that game ended Saturday night? Yeah, everybody was. To a man, we all felt we could be better.”

Previously by Robin Brownlee