ATTA BOUNCE BACK, BOYS! Final Score: 5-3 Oilers
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Even though the Oilers have played better over these last couple of weeks, I have to confess that I was nervous about tonight’s game against the Capitals because they’re a very good hockey team and our boys are still trying to right the ship. Even with Ovi out of the lineup, this was going to be a battle and we needed the Oilers the get a strong start to put some momentum on their side without going down by an early goal again. And as if my hopes and dreams were beamed right from my head onto the ice, the boys tagged the Capitals with three goals in the first five minutes to not only give themselves an early lead but also chase Washington’s starter from the net. At first, I thought I was having a fever dream or something because there’s no way that anyone had the Oilers putting up a first period field goal on their bingo card, but I’m certainly not complaining about it because it was the best start they’ve had in months. They were all over the Capitals early on and it was so much fun to watch them compete that hard. Even when Lars Eller scored to pull the Caps back to within a pair, the first period of this hockey game was all Edmonton Oilers, and when the elation subsided a touch, all I could hope was that they’d have the juice left to keep it going for the remaining 40 minutes.
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Moving into the second period, I was fully expecting the Capitals to bust their asses to try and climb out of the hole they dug for themselves but I was also hopeful that the Oilers would find a way to weather the storm. As expected, Washington threw everything they had towards Edmonton’s net and while the boys did a decent job of bending without break, it wasn’t exactly surprising to see the Caps get one back after what felt like wave after wave of offensive zone pressure. Unlike what we saw in the first, the Capitals were all over the Oilers through the middle third, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been so relieved to hear the horn go to end the frame. Put another way, there was a lot of white-knuckling going on for the boys in the white jerseys. Up by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers needed to get back to what was working for them in the first period rather than sitting back and letting the game come to them. Unfortunately, the struggles we faced in the second carried over into the first few minutes of the final frame and the Capitals used that window to tie the game and fully erase the amazing work the visitors got done in the first five minutes. The stress was high, my friends. Thankfully, the play evened out after the early marker by Kuznetsov because I don’t know if I was emotionally prepared to see a three-goal lead disappear and turn into a loss. The good news is that we didn’t have to worry about the horror that duffing that early lead would have caused because Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman came up with a clutch shortie towards the end of the period to reclaim the lead and close out the win.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Only 90 seconds into the game, @Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring (1-0) with a beautiful little chip up and over Samsonov after he and Cody Ceci perfectly executed a give-and-go that seemed to catch the Caps off guard.
  • Shortly after Draisaitl’s opener, @Evander Kane got his second goal of the year (2-0) after he parked himself in the slot and got his stick on Keith’s point shot, deflecting it perfectly through the goaltender’s legs.
  • Continuing the early onslaught, @Connor McDavid put the Oilers up by three (3-0) with a sharp angle power play goal after he banked a shot in off Samsonov’s back, which ended the goalie’s night before it even had a chance to begin.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins restored the Oilers’ lead (4-3) with a shorthanded goal after he and Hyman put their hard hats on and got to work, rushing the puck into the Capitals zone and taking advantage of some real lackluster defending. Moments later, Nuge added an empty-netter to seal the deal and help his team lock up a massive road win.
  • After dropping his last start against the Senators, @Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 26th start of the season and looking to get his team back in the win column. And while I’m not suggesting Kostco was perfect, I will say that he did a fine job of staying in the fight and giving his team a chance to win, especially in the moments when they were getting shelled in the second period. At the end of the day, Koskinen gave his teammates a chance to win and that’s all we ever want from our goaltenders. Koskinen finished the night with 24 saves and a .889 save%.
  • I want to give @Zach Hyman a quick shout out for the way he always busts his ass regardless of the situation. Had it not been for his hustle, there’s no way that RNH’s game winner would have even been possible and I just love the way this guy plays.
  • Gotta give @Cody Ceci some love for wrapping the night up with a pair of assists to go along with 23:31 in TOI, one shot, two hits, and three blocks.
  • Digging into the spreadsheets, the Oilers finished the night with a 50.49 CF% and a 45.36 xGF%.
  • This was the kind of special teams performance we needed. Not only did the Oilers get a goal on their lone power play opportunity, but they also killed off all three of Washington’s chances with the man advantage.
  • Do me a favour and check out the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never and let me know what you think! Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Lars Eller got the Capitals on the board (3-1) with a nifty little backhanded dangle after he took a pass right in front of the net and made his move on a sliding Koskinen. Unfortunately, Bouchard got caught with a tough exit pass attempt that led to the goal, but I’m not going to be too hard on a kid that’s been excellent all season long.
  • @Conor Sheary pulled Washington back to within a single goal (3-2) after the puck pinballed around in the slot a little bit before kicking out to his stick right at the side of the net. Not much Koskinen could have done on this one.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game (3-3) on a very lucky bounce after he blindly threw a centering pass towards the slot and had it bounce into the net off Tyson Barrie’s skate.
  • That second period was rough and the Oilers were very lucky to head into the intermission still up by a goal.
  • The Oilers were coughing the puck up at the opposing blue line far too often for my liking, and it seems like they’re having a hard time with the way teams are stacking up just inside the zone.
  • Are you surprised that Jultz got a point? You’re not, are you?
  • Late in the second period, Evander Kane left the game after he took a hard hit, and I was honestly shocked to see him back for the third. The reason I have this listed in the Face Palmers is that I wonder if the hit will have lingering effects that cause him to miss some time.
  • @Tyson Barrie was battling the puck like he’s never played hockey before. And that penalty in the third? Marone.
  • I regret to report that the Oilers won only 48% of the faceoffs.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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