Never in doubt. Final Score: 5-4 Oilers
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I always get nervous when I see games like this on the schedule. On paper, even with the injuries, there was no reason that the Oilers shouldn’t be able to find a way to beat the Chicago Blackhawks given how horrible they’ve been this season. Losers of their last seven contests, the Blackhawks were up against the rope before the game even started, and it would be up to the Oilers to keep them there. The boys needed to play with some swagger like a team that just knew that they weren’t going to be the ones to end the streak, but rather a team that will kick you when you’re down because that’s what the best teams do in this league. And after a slow start that saw them register only a pair of shots after half a period, the Oilers started to find their legs and take over the game in the way that we expected them to do. Unfortunately, they didn’t get rewarded for it. Instead, we got a second disallowed goal for Zach Hyman in as many games, and a whole lot of hustle that I was hoping the boys could build upon.
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Heading into the second period, the Oilers had to find a way to get the first goal because the last thing they needed was to fall behind again to a team that they dominated in the opening frame. Not only that, I refused to acknowledge the possibility of a world where Arvid Soderblom looks like a Vezina candidate. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring with a one-timer from the circle to give the Oilers the lead and maybe even open the floodgates if we were lucky. So when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins extended the lead a few minutes later, it was hard not to feel good about what we were watching up to that point. Instead of the Oilers playing well and having things blow up in their faces anyway, the boys were basically generating chances at will and were almost unlucky that the score remained as close as it was. The problem with having the score stay close is, of course, that it gave the Blackhawks the opportunity to get themselves back into the game even though didn’t at all deserve to be there. So when Boris Katchouk got the Blackhawks on the board, you could feel the pressure rising as we all realized that the game wasn’t actually safe by any means.
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Up by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers had to keep the pedal to the floor and ensure that the Blackhawks couldn’t get up off the mat. If I’m being honest, the last few minutes before the intermission were a little too stressful for my liking and a much better plan would just be to put this game away as quickly as possible. And like a speedy gift from the Hockey Gords, Connor McDavid executed that plan with a goal in the opening minutes of the frame that quieted the building and made the Blackhawks look like they should probably be relegated. Okay so maybe that was harsh, but what I thought at the moment was that Connor’s goal was setting the tone for the rest of the period and his teammates were more than willing to follow suit. So when Mattias Janmark cashed in a fourth goal at the midway point, I thought this win was damn near wrapped up with a bow. But as an Oilers fan my whole life, I probably should have known better than to count my chickens before the final buzzer. Instead of cruising to a big finish, the last eight minutes of the game turned into total chaos as four total goals were scored with three of them coming on the wrong side of the board.
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To say that the end of this game was way more stressful than it should have been would be the understatement of the century, but what matters most is that the boys were able to close it out by the skin of their teeth and pick up two points in the process.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring (1-0) early in the second period with a goal from his office after a beautiful passing play saw the Oilers carve through the Chicago zone like 20-year-old me at a foam party. Basically what I’m trying to say is that it was a sight to behold. Leon Draisaitl picked up a second goal late in the third period (5-3) after he and McDavid rushed into the ice on a 2-on-1 that they made no mistake of cashing in. It’s almost automatic with those two, at this point.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers some insurance (2-0) with a one-touch shot from the slot that beat Soderblom over the blocker before he could even figure out what was happening. That goal doesn’t happen without the pretty pass by Puljujarvi from behind the net to set RNH up, and it’s been nice to see the kid starting to feel it a little bit.
  • Connor McDavid restored the two-goal lead (3-1) after he blew past Jack Johnson with outside speed, found an open lane to the net, and buried a shot through the goaltender. When McDavid is flying like that, it’s impossible to stop him.
  • Mattias Janmark put the Oilers up by three (4-1) with his first goal as an Oiler that came on a beautifully executed 2-on-1 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nuge with the sauce, Janmark with the finish. Beautiful.
  • Shout out to Darnell Nurse for playing in game 500 of his NHL career. I remember following him on a nearly daily basis back with the Greyhounds in his post-draft years, and it’s wild to think he’s already played this much hockey with the big club. Nurse finished the night with 29:09 in TOI, an assist, six shots on net, two hits, and a +4 rating for good measure.
  • Zach Hyman may not have scored but he was a dog on a bone out there, and it will only be a matter of time before he gets a goal that actually counts. I love this guy.
  • I really liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game again and I’m convinced that the goals will come if he keeps playing this way. As much as it’s been nice to see him picking up some primary assists over the past few games, I think he’ll take his game to another level still when he has the confidence of another goal working for him.
  • The Oilers dummied Chicago on the shot clock by a 41-25 margin, which is very exciting if you love a good Corski win as you know I do.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Boris Katchouk pulled the Blackhawks back to within one (2-1) with a deflection from the slot after he got in the way of Johnson’s point shot and had the puck take a friendly bounce for him. Are you surprised to hear it was Katchouk’s first goal of the season? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Max Domi cut the Oilers’ lead down to two (4-2) with a snipe from the circle that made its way through Nurse’s stick and leg before beating Skinner clean on the glove side. Max Domi got a second goal later in the third period to pull the Blackhawks back to within a single goal after Patrick Kane found him on the doorstep with a perfectly placed no-look pass. Just a ridiculous pass by Patrick Kane.
  • Only 19 seconds after Domi’s marker, Mackenzie Entwhistle pulled Chicago back to within one (4-3) after a puck bounced out to him right in the slot where he quickly ripped a shot on net that beat Skinner over the glove. Are you surprised to hear this was also Entwhistle’s first goal of the season? No? Okay.
  • That third period was nearly a disaster and it would be very nice for the Oilers to be able to lock things up when they’re in control of the game as they were.
  • I was a little bit surprised to see Stuart Skinner get the start because I thought he’d be in line for the tougher matchup against the Wild tomorrow night, but at the same time, it was also comforting to see him in the crease. Yet, despite the win, this wasn’t one of Skinner’s finest nights. That’s not to say that he was bad or anything — he wasn’t — but I would say that he’d probably want at least a goal or two back. Either way, two points is two points and Skinner did enough to get the job done. Stu finished the game with 21 saves and a .840 save%.
  • The Oilers went 0/4 on the power play despite a plethora of chances and it would have been really, really nice if they had been able to get something done. This game was too stressful in the end to go without a PP goal or two.
  • Unfortunately, the PK did not fair much better as the boys gave up two goals in six shorthanded situations.
  • Speaking of penalties, how about Nuge the goon with a trio of penalties? Prison Nuge came out.
  • Back-to-back games with disallowed goals for Zach Hyman. That’s tough luck for a guy that desperately wants to produce for this team. The goals will come, sweet Zach.
  • The Oilers hit at least six posts tonight and it was incredibly frustrating that not one of them bounced in our way.
  • Seeing that the Oilers won only 39% of the faceoffs broke my heart a little bit.

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST PERIOD
No Goals Scored
2ND PERIODEDMCHI
0:54
Edmonton
Leon Draisaitl (14)
Assists: Darnell Nurse (10), Brett Kulak (5)
1
0
9:48
Edmonton
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (10)
Assists: Jesse Puljujarvi (5), Mattias Janmark (2)
2
0
14:33
Chicago
Boris Katchouk (1)
Assists: Jack Johnson (4), MacKenzie Entwistle (3)
2
1
3RD PERIODEDMCHI
1:18
Edmonton
Connor McDavid (18)
Assists: Leon Draisaitl (21), Brett Kulak (6)
3
1
10:00
Edmonton
Mattias Janmark (1)
Assists: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15), Evan Bouchard (7)
4
1
12:37
Chicago
Max Domi (6) (Power Play)
Unassisted
4
2
12:56
Chicago
MacKenzie Entwistle (1)
Assists: Reese Johnson (1)
4
3
15:21
Edmonton
Leon Draisaitl (15)
Assists: Connor McDavid (23), Zach Hyman (14)
5
3
18:49
Chicago
Max Domi (7) (Power Play)
Assists: Patrick Kane (14)
5
4

#GOODCONTENT

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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