“Up and down like a toilet seat.” Final Score: 6-3 Oilers
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Coming into this game against the Penguins, the thought I couldn’t wipe from my mind was how there was no possible way a matchup between McDavid and Crosby could be anywhere close to as boring as what we suffered through on Saturday. Not only did the Oilers lose, but the Blues are so painfully boring that I found watching them physically painful somehow. Even outside of the obvious Connor vs. Sid storylines, I was excited to watch a game that moved faster than the glacial pace we got from the Blues. The problem, however, is that the Oilers didn’t seem to get the memo that they too were supposed to put the pedal to the floor. Outside of Zach Hyman’s opening goal, the first period was all Penguins and had it not been for Jack Campbell then the score would have been way more lopsided than a 2-1 game. Needless to say, there was plenty of room for improvement.
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As far as where that improvement needed to happen, there was no shortage of options to choose from so anything above sucking substantially was going to be an improvement. I know that not getting dummied was a small dream, but I felt like it was an important one. Unfortunately, it was the Penguins that struck first with an early goal by Rust that extended the lead and gave the visitors some insurance. To make matters worse, albeit temporarily but we didn’t know it at the moment, Connor McDavid crashed into the net back first and left the game in some clear discomfort. But then things got interesting. Instead of crumbling because of the two-goal hole or potentially losing their captain, the Oilers picked up a quick power play marker to pull themselves back to within one and give themselves some confidence. Now with momentum on their side and McDavid back on the bench, the table was set for a comeback that the Penguins simply had no answer for as the Oilers were able to pump three more goals past Jarry in the span of only four and a half minutes. For as bad as the boys were in the first, they dominated the second period and it was a truckload of fun to watch.
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Up by two goals with 20 minutes left on the clock, the Oilers had a wonderful opportunity to finish this six-game homestand with a .500 record despite their up-and-down play. Of course, making that happen would require another effort just like the one we got in the second period and nothing like the laissez faire approach we saw in the opening. And seeing as the Penguins were going to come out swinging to try and get themselves back in the game, the Oilers had to be ready. They couldn’t just sit back and try to ride the clock out — they had to keep fighting. The good news is that there was no sitting back in the Oilers’ game plan. Picking up where they left off in the second, the boys did a fine job of keeping the Penguins to the outside of the ice defensively while also staying hungry for more offence at the other end of the rink. It was like they were a completely different team than the one that started the game, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a turnaround quite this drastic even though I’m certainly not complaining about the result. All I know for sure is that the Oilers hit another gear over the final 40 minutes, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to take some of that energy with them on this coming road trip.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Zach Hyman opened the scoring (1-0) with a breakaway deke to his backhand after Evan Bouchard sent him in alone with a beautiful stretch pass.
  • Tyson Barrie pulled the Oilers back to within one (3-2) with a lucky goal after his point shot took a few friendly bounces before finally sneaking past Jarry.
  • Evander Kane tied the game (3-3) late in the second period after Leon Draisaitl fed him with a nifty pass in the slot that he wasted no time ripping through the goaltender. Kane took a few games to get going, but with two goals in his last three games, I’m thinking the big man is starting to feel it again.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins restored Edmonton’s lead (4-3) with a quick, one-touch shot from the slot after Hyman found him at the goal mouth with a pass to tee off on. With the goal and the assist on Barrie’s power play marker, Nugent-Hopkins finds himself with seven points (3G, 4A) in his last four games. My boy is looking good right now.
  • Leon Draisaitl added a fourth straight goal for the Oilers (5-3) with a beautiful individual effort that saw him dangle the defenceman before ripping a backhander past Jarry down low. How about another casual three-point night for Leon? Dude is ridiculous and we’re so lucky to have him.
  • Ryan McLeod iced the game with a quick snap from in tight (6-3) after Derek Ryan set him up with a lane to the net and all the time in the world to pick his spot. As always, McLeod is the greatest cloud since the cumulus. Thank you.
  • I don’t care what anybody says, Jack Campbell has been part of the solution for this hockey team, and there was no greater example of that than the way he held the Oilers in the game in the first period. Yeah, he’d probably like to have that goal by Rust back, but had it not been for Campbell then the Oilers would have never won this hockey game. From start to finish, Soup gave his team a chance to win and he also did a wonderful job of locking things down when it matters most. Campbell finished the night with 32 saves and a .914 save%.
  • I really liked Darnell Nurse’s game and actually think he’s been solid all season. I know that people are always going to point to his contract, but from my side of the TV screen, I’ve been happy with his play so far.
  • You have to love seeing the power play get back on track (1/3) after getting shut out on Saturday afternoon against St. Louis. I know they only got one PP in that game, but you know what I mean.
  • The Oilers set a new franchise record in the second period when they fired 26 shots on Tristan Jarry.
  • After getting heavily outshot in the first period, the Oilers started firing pucks from everywhere and it carried them to a 47-34 win on the shot clock.
  • How can you not love to see the boys win 54% of the faceoffs?

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Rickard Rakell tied the game (1-1) with a power play snipe from the high slot that beat Campbell up and over the glove. Initially, I thought that there might have been some interference in Campbell’s crease, but the replay quickly squashed my hopes and dreams of a Woody challenge.
  • Less than two minutes after Rakell knotted the score, Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins the lead (2-1) after a ridiculous passing play that started with Tristan Jarry bombing the puck out of Pittsburgh’s zone and ultimately into an odd-man rush. It was a weird goal and a beautiful one all at the same time.
  • Bryan Rust increased Pittsburgh’s lead to a pair (3-1) on a second-chance play after he picked up his own rebound near the circle and banked his second shot in off Campbell as he was trying to slide back into position.
  • Connor McDavid left the game early in the second period after crashing into the post and it was clear that he was in some discomfort because this is not a guy that stays down unless there’s a problem. The good news is that he only missed a single shift, but that moment without him was still too scary for my liking.
  • Six games played, six games with at least a goal given up on the penalty kill. Not good, my friends. That said, it wasn’t all bad as the Oilers killed off four straight penalties after allowing a goal on the first shorthanded situation of the night.
  • The NHL site had the Oilers listed with 15 giveaways but I feel like they got more than that in the first period alone.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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Talk to me, Twitter. Hit me up at @jsbmbaggedmilk and Wanye at @Oilersnation and you could find yourself landing in this very spot. 

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