Man, what a game.
Both Mikko Koskinen and Derek Ryan may have played the best games of their NHL careers and it was a key factor in a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers.
It wasn’t pretty, no. The Oilers were outshot heavily to the tune of 47-22, but tight play in his crease from Koskinen shut the door. Couple that with Ryan scoring his first hat trick, and a tight third period, and it was just what the Oilers needed.
Florida poured it on early in the game, but the Oilers were able to weather the storm. Ryan broke open the scoring, but Florida got two back before the end of the frame.
The Oilers were lucky to be down one.
“They came pretty hard and a lot of shots to the net. They got a couple chances but I thought we were pretty happy we were only one goal behind after the first,” said Koskinen after the win. “We talk in the first that we need to get back to the game and that’s exactly what we did. Then we hold the lead in the third. It’s a big win for us.
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“The wins are the only thing I’m counting here. It was a big win for us and a big game tomorrow. We have an excellent chance to get more points tomorrow. It’s a great challenge for us.”
Edmonton’s second period was clearly their strongest. They hung right in there and managed to put three past Sergei Bobrovsky. Ryan, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan again scored for the Oilers building a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.
There, the Oilers were able to weather the storm. It wasn’t pretty, but man, did it work.
All in all, the game just shows how much good goaltending and depth scoring can mean to a team like the Oilers. They have another huge game Sunday morning against Carolina and this win against Florida will do wonders for their confidence.
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Backhanders…

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the first period and Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t have an update after the game. On Twitter, Dr. Harjas Grewal, a University of Manitoba Family Medicine Resident who tweets about NHL injuries, speculated that Nugent-Hopkins may have suffered a separated shoulder.
  • On a night where virtually every Oilers player struggled analytically, there were a few bright spots. Ryan McLeod controlled 55.56 percent of the shot attempts. Cody Ceci controlled 56.2 percent of the expected goal share. Ceci and Nurse together controlled 74.65 percent of the expected goal share. Impressive stuff.
  • Koskinen’s underlying numbers were great, too. In all situations, he saved 2.33 goals above average. This is a much different game if he didn’t put on such a great performance.

What they’re saying…

Florida Panthers fall to Oilers on Derek Ryan hat trick, lose third home game in a row
The NHL’s top three top scorers were in the house in Sunrise, but none of them emerged as the game’s biggest star on Saturday.
Instead, the Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers belonged to Derek Ryan and Mikko Koskinen.
Ryan — an undrafted player who didn’t make the NHL until age 29 and had just four goals this season entering Saturday — had his first career hat trick.
Ryan, a 35-year-old center, now has 32 career goals.
Teammate Connor McDavid has 223 goals — and he is a decade younger. Teammate Leon Draisaitl has 237 goals, and he’s 26.
McDavid had two assists on Saturday and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau had one, and they are now tied for the NHL lead with 75 points.
It was McDavid’s first game in South Florida since Nov. 8, 2018. He missed Edmonton’s 2020 visit to South Florida duet a quad injury.
Draisaitl (one goal) is in second place at 74 points.
Saturday’s other big star was Koskinen, who made 44 saves — many of them on breakaways or odd-man rushes — to earn the victory.
“He made some unbelievable saves,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “He was excellent.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they have not been excellent of late, dropping their third consecutive home game. They still lead the NHL in home wins (23-6-0), but this slump is concerning.
“I think we play hard,” Brunette said. “But we lose focus on some little details. Those little momentum swings have gone our way all season — but not this week.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]