That’s a good start to the road trip, boys. We salute you. Final Score: 5-2 Oilers
When these two teams met up a week ago, the first period could not have gone worse for the Edmonton Oilers — the game was basically over before it really had a chance to get started. Down by a field goal before the first period was even 12 minutes old, the best the Oilers could really do was try to save face and not let the thing get completely out of hand. Needless to say, that could not happen again tonight. I refused to sit up this much past my bedtime and have my heart hurt like that again. With four divisional games on the schedule, this week’s road trip is far too important for the boys to let it get started with another late night turd, and so it was absolutely crucial that they get rolling from the moment the puck dropped. Avenge the loss. Play angry. Do whatever it took. Now that we’re nearing the seemingly magical American Thanksgiving playoff line, I need the boys to be securing as many divisional points as they possibly can. Win today, keep ’em in your pocket for later. It’s a small dream, but it’s my dream.
Seeing as the Oilers started their last visit to San Jose with all the sexiness of a burning barrel full of diapers, they needed to start the game like their lives depended on it. And while the shot clock told a completely different story, the Oilers managed to put three first period goals past Martin Jones and set themselves up with a huge advantage. Was I nervous about how many times Koskinen had to bail the team out in the first? Yes, absolutely, but I remained hopeful that the rope-a-dope strategy the boys were running with was going to work out anyway. In the middle frame, the Oilers were able to settle things down, manufacture some chances, and really limit San Jose’s ability to generate from the cycle. Even better, they were able to extend their lead to three goals and give themselves a chance at redemption after blowing Saturday’s lead against the Stars. Though, as we saw in that very game, there are no guaranteed wins in this league and taking the final period off it’s going to get you anything but heartbreak.
This time, rather than lay down and wait for tummy tickles, the Oilers kept pushing forward until the job was done and two points were tucked away in the bank. Not only did the big boys come to play, but Edmonton also got the secondary scoring we crave to go along with sensational goaltending and it was lights out for San Jose.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Show of hands, who had Markus Granlund to open the scoring tonight? Was there a line on that anywhere? Anyway, after Oscar Klefbom made a brilliant cross-ice pass to the wide open Granlund, all he really had to do was hit the open net for his first as an Oiler and that’s exactly what he did.
- Zack Kassian continued his nice run with a greasy first period goal that gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead. Kass drove to the front of the net, banging and crashing his way into the crease where he swatted a loose puck just over the line. When the play was reviewed, I thought the goal might get called back but the grace of the Hockey Gords was in our favour this time.
- Jujhar Khaira kept his hot streak going with another big goal in the dying seconds of the opening period, and all of sudden, the man who was once ice-cold is getting NBA Jam-style hot. He is the hammer.
- After starting the season on a heater to end all heaters, James Neal hadn’t scored in eight games but he ended the drought tonight with his ninth power play goal of the season. Every time Neal scores, I’ve been mailing a thank you card to the Flames head office and it makes me so happy to do it for the 13th time. Incredible trade. It still makes me laugh.
- Connor McDavid is the one, and proved it with another three-point effort which included his 15th goal and a pair of assists. The man is Neo from the Matrix and soon he will be able to leap from building to building, eventually discovering his ability to fly. Would you bet against the idea that Connor sees the NHL in code form, manipulating it in any way he sees fit like some kind of magical hockey robot? No, you wouldn’t, would you? Are you surprised that he had ANOTHER three-point night? No? The guy collects them like they’re Pogs.
- Since I tend to say the same thing about Leon Draisaitl every night, I pulled out my trusty thesaurus to fish for some new ways to describe how incredible he’s been so far this season. Here we go… So far this season, Leon has been absurd, inconceivable, unbelievable, astonishing, awe-inspiring, prodigious, superhuman, astounding, dashing, handsome, aces, herculean, prodigious, etc. What else can you say about the guy in the midst of a 13-game point streak?
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes tonight after what was a tough outing on Saturday against the Stars. That’s not to say that Mikko played poorly, I actually thought he made some huge saves through 40 minutes, but he, along with the rest of the team, did not have a strong finish to that game and I was sure hoping that he’d be able to rebound. So how did he do? To put it simply, this game likely would have been a disaster had it not been for Mikko Koskinen’s brilliance, especially early. To say that Koskinen bounced back after Saturday’s game would be an understatement as he finished the night with 33 saves and a .943 save%.
- How good is Ethan Bear with the puck? I love the way he changes the angles on shots, the little dekes and fakes he makes in his own zone, and the way he’s able to move the biscuit up ice in a way that we haven’t seen from the right side since the early Jultz days. I know we talk about it a lot, but Bear has got to be one of the best stories of the season, hands down. Bear finished with 23:47 TOI, five blocks, a hit, and a +1 beside his name.
- I’m also into the way Caleb Jones has stepped in on his off-wing and looked very nice alongside Oscar Klefbom on the second pairing. With Matt Benning going down, I can’t help but wonder if Larsson is going to start in Benning’s spot (if he can’t play on Thursday) and Jones stays right where he’s at?
- SECONDARY SCORING! HUZZAH!
- Once again, the Oilers won the special teams battle after killing off both penalties they took, and scoring a big goal on 1/2 opportunities they had with the man advantage. As Nick Good always says, “special teams are life.”
THE FACE PALMERS
- Only 24 seconds after Zack Kassian extended the Oilers’ lead, Kevin Lebanc pulled the Sharks back to within a single goal with some puck luck and a crazy bounce. The Sharks were buzzing all over the Oilers zone and after the fifth shot on goal, they were finally able to finish the play with a goal that probably could have been avoided.
- Barclay Goodrow got the Sharks’ second goal of the night by being in the right place at the right time as an intended shot pass bounced directly to him off of a skate, and he was able to sink it past a moving Mikko Koskinen. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t count this goal because Barclay Goodrow is not even a real name.
- Matt Benning got tangled up with Evander Kane in the first period, took a high stick to the side of the head, and did not return for another shift afterwards. Benning was clearly hurt after Kane’s stick hit him near the temple and the Oilers were forced to finish the game with five defencemen.
- I did NOT like how many shots on goal the Sharks were able to generate in the first period. Yeah, I know Mikko Koskinen was great and he bailed the boys out, but I’d rather not see the team get dummied on the shot clock (18-9) like that. I know things evened out as the game moved forward, but this game could have gone sideways had the team not gotten such strong goaltending.
- Oilers won only 39% of the draws tonight. Not ideal, but I’m not gonna complain about it too much.
|03:34||Edmonton||Markus Granlund (1) ASST: Oscar Klefbom (15), Gaetan Haas (2)||1-0|
|07:59||Edmonton||Zack Kassian (8) ASST: Connor McDavid (27), Darnell Nurse (8)||2-0|
|09:23||San Jose||Kevin Labanc (7) ASST: Logan Couture (19), Evander Kane (7)||2-1|
|19:45||Edmonton||Jujhar Khaira (4) ASST: Kris Russell (4), Riley Sheahan (1)||3-1|
|17:19||Edmonton||PPG – James Neal (13) ASST: Connor McDavid (28), Oscar Klefbom (16)||4-1|
|06:34||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (15) ASST: Darnell Nurse (9), Leon Draisaitl (28)||5-1|
|09:43||San Jose||Barclay Goodrow (6) ASST: Radim Simek (3), Brent Burns (15)||5-2|
I'm sorta enjoying the Milan Lucic Experience in Calgary. I've never seen someone that resembled a table hockey player so closely.
— Robert Cleave (@rmcleave) November 20, 2019
— Turner L. Watson (@TurnerWatson) November 20, 2019
NAME A BIGGER THING KHAIRA HAS THAN THAT TIMELY GOAL TELL ME NOW
— Wanye (@WanyeGretz) November 20, 2019
— Maysy Man (@MaysyMan) November 20, 2019
WTF THE 2 HAND CHOP TO BENNING’S FACE???
— Arch (@Archaeologuy) November 20, 2019
When the Oilers win, everybody wins a Beef n Cheddar!!! https://t.co/7zorUt5a3z
— Real Steal 18 (@RPW_1832) November 20, 2019
What Leon Draisaitl looked like the last time he didn’t get a point pic.twitter.com/ZzeSZr1wC4
— 𝗔𝗱𝗮𝗺 (@OilersAdam) November 20, 2019
The man is a warlord and deserves to be commemorated by a new tee. Check out the Neon Leon version 3.0 tee that is now available at NationGear.ca.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/19/2019 – 11:30 pm MT