Jay Woodcroft’s powers are unstoppable. Final Score: 7-3 Oilers
Regardless of the year or where the Oilers are at in the standings or what time of the season we’re in, the Anaheim Ducks are a team that I cannot stand and it’s a hatred that burns deep within me and I plan on carrying it forward regardless of who’s on their roster now or how long it’s been since Kesler held Talbot’s pad. Those days may be gone, but I certainly haven’t forgotten. And with the way this game started — the Ducks cashed in a pair of power play goals in just over 14 minutes — I wasn’t exactly feeling much better about the relationship. I don’t know what’s going on with the Oilers’ special teams right now, but they’re anything but special, and it’s a problem that’s gone on far too long for my liking. Then, just as I was complaining about it in my group text, the boys were able to respond with a power play goal of their own in the final moments of the period to pull themselves back to within striking distance.
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Down by a goal but with lots of time to play, the Oilers needed to get a better start to the second period and that included maintaining discipline and avoiding making more trips to the penalty box. At even strength, the boys were finding ways to get the job done, but when down a man, they look about as lost as we’d all be if we had to go back to the paper map era. The good news is that the Oilers were able to do exactly as I asked and stayed disciplined in the middle third, which ultimately paved the way to not only tying the game up but wrestling the lead away. I mean, as far as a comeback goes, it doesn’t get much better than pumping home four straight and outshooting the opposition by a 2:1 margin does it? I don’t think so. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that this was the best period the Oilers have played at home in a while, and it was wonderful to see the boys set themselves up with a win after digging themselves a hole early on.
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Up by two goals with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers were in a great stop to extend their winning streak but the first step was to kill off the penalty that came after the end of the second period. To this point in the game, the Oilers had been unable to handle their business in shorthanded situations and I was nervous about what might happen had Anaheim been able to get another one. Thankfully, the boys were able to come up with a big kill when they needed one, and rather than allowing the Ducks to draw closer, the Oilers ended up responding to the kill with another goal to put themselves up by three. Even when Anaheim answered to pull themselves back to within a pair, it never seemed even for a second like this game was in any danger of swinging back the other way. Not only were the Oilers resilient enough to get themselves back into the game, but they also flexed a little bit of the killer instinct we’ve been hoping for as they kept pushing for goals right until the final buzzer sounded.
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The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • @Evander Kane got the Oilers on the board (2-1) with a rising wrister on the power play that beat Gibson up high after Ryan McLeod found him with a nice pass on the left-hand side of the ice.
  • @Derek Ryan tied the game (2-2) after he got his stick on Cody Ceci’s point shot and deflected it through John Gibson between the arm and body. All of sudden, Derek Ryan is on a little mini heater and it’s nice to see him getting rewarded for his efforts.
  • @Jesse Puljujarvi gave the Oilers the lead (3-2) with his 12th goal of the year after McDavid set him up on a tee right in the slot and he blasted off on the one-timer and beat John Gibson cleanly. Just kidding… What actually happened is that Connor set Jesse up, he whiffed on the shot, but the good vibes continued anyway as the puck took a friendly bounce into the net off his skate. That’s the exact kind of bounce we weren’t getting in December, ya know?
  • Shortly after Puljujarvi grabbed the lead, @Leon Draisaitl extended the lead to two goals (4-2) after Ryan McLeod found him with a perfect pass where all the former MVP had to do was tip it into the empty net. Draisaitl added a second goal midway through the third period (6-3) when he intercepted the puck in Anaheim’s zone and beat Gibson cleanly with a snipe from the slot.
  • @Warren Foegele put the Oilers up by three goals (5-2) with a one-touch shot from the side of the net after Nugent-Hopkins found him with a perfect pass that set him up with a wide open net.
  • @Zach Hyman continued the onslaught with a third goal in the final period (7-2) with a backhander under the bar after McDavid found him alone in the slot with all kinds of time and space. I thought Hyman had a hell of a game tonight and I was fired up to see him finally get rewarded for all that hustle.
  • After a strong appearance against the Kings on Wednesday night, Mike Smith was back in the crease and looking to build on this little run he’s got going on. And just like we’ve seen over his past few starts, Smith was ready to go once again, and even though I’m sure he’d probably like one of those goals back, the veteran netminder made the saves needed to close out his third straight win. Even though he wasn’t as busy as his counterpart, Smith was steady enough to get the job done and it allowed the team in front of him to settle in and get to work. Smith finished the night with 27 saves and a .900 save%.
  • @Ryan McLeod had a great game and I wanted to take a minute to give him some love for it. Not only was he hustling and making plays regularly, but he was also rewarded with a pair of assists to go along with a +2 rating, one shot on goal, and one takeaway in 14:30 worth of TOI.
  • How about @Evan Bouchard quietly putting up another assist? Dad is leading the team in scoring from the blue line and I don’t think it’s getting enough attention.
  • I like @Cody Ceci. That’s all I have to say about that.
  • Oilers came through with a big Corski win after outshooting the Ducks by a 41-30 margin.
  • I am pumped to report that the Oilers won 51% of the faceoffs.
  • With the Hockey Gords on our side, the Oilers were able to get one power play goal on four chances with the man advantage. I know that total doesn’t seem overly sexy at first glance, but when you’re struggling on the PP like our boys are right now, you’ve gotta celebrate even the smallest of victories.
  • If you’re a fan of the fancy stats, I am here to announce that the Oilers finished the night with a 58.06 CF% and a 58.31 xGF%.
  • Nothing feels like home for Dallas Eakins quite like getting shit pumped in Edmonton.
  • Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Adam Henrique opened the scoring (1-0) with a power play goal with a perfect redirection from the slot after Cam Fowler found him in the slot and him in right on the blade with a perfect shot-pass.
  • @Sonny Milano extended the lead to a pair (2-0) with the Ducks’ second power play goal of the night after Trevor Zegras found him in the slot with yet another shot-pass that he was able to deflect through Mike Smith’s legs.
  • @Trevor Zegras pulled the Ducks back to within two goals (5-3) with a shot from near the goal line that he lifted up and over Smith from what seemed like an impossible angle. The kid is just unbelievable to watch and I almost don’t know that we should be surprised when he scores ridiculous goals anymore.
  • The Oilers have allowed a power play goal against in 12 of their last 18 games and I don’t think I have to explain too much why that’s a problem. Unfortunately that was the case again this evening as the boys gave up two**** goals on three**** shorthanded situations.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi left the game in the second period and did not return. The Oilers said he left with a lower-body injury and would not return, and all I could think to do was over up by lower body to him because I know he’d get more out of it than I do.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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LISTEN TO BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On this week’s podcast, I looked at Jay Woodcroft’s effect on the team and how he could have been The Answer all along.