Markus Granlund could be The Answer. Final Score: 4-3 Oilers in the shootout
With tonight’s game being the fourth consecutive contest against a Pacific Division opponent, we’ve understandably spoken at length about how important this road trip is for the Oilers and how every point is already so valuable. And seeing as our boys let two slip away a few nights ago in Los Angeles, this back-to-back weekend seemed to mean just a little bit more. At least, it felt that way anyway. I don’t know about you guys, but, in my books, it’s never too early to start watching the standings and having the Coyotes within three points of catching our boys was much too close for comfort. Now, I know that a lot is likely to change between now and the time the playoffs roll around but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be thinking about how the boys could put as much distance as possible between themselves and the teams that are chasing them. Unfortunately, the journey to victory got a little bit more difficult in the time leading up to puck drop.
Shortly before the game started, the Oilers announced that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be missing tonight’s matchup with a hand injury and that meant pressure on Sam Gagner who was filling in on the second line and also on the rest of the roster to be able to pick up the slack in other areas like the PK. After plenty of back-and-forth action that resulted in each side grabbing a first period goal, the game moved into the middle frame with either side having a fair shot at taking the reigns. Early on, it was the Oilers that were dominating the play, reclaimed their one-goal lead with a second dose of depth scoring, and looked poised to widen the gap, but the fun didn’t last long, as the Coyotes fired back with a pair of their own goals in quick succession. Heading into the third period down by a goal, the Oilers need to keep applying pressure while also hoping for a little bit of luck or a bounce that could get them back to an even keel. And like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Markus Granlund stepped up with a clutch goal that tied the game and got it to overtime.
When overtime solved nothing, it was off to the skills competition where Mikko Koskinen shone and shut the door on all three shots he faced, stealing two points from an Arizona team that seemed only minutes away from a regulation win. On this night, the Oilers had no quit in their game and they needed every ounce of that resilience to claw their way back from a late deficit and grind out the win.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Is there anything funnier than when James Neal scores a goal? There’s not, is there? Honestly, I spent a few minutes thinking about it and every goal he scores seems to make me laugh louder and louder. What a trade.
- Alex Chiasson got his second goal of the season after Sam Gagner found him charging into the slot with an open side to shoot at. Kuemper thought Gagner was going to take the puck behind the net, but, instead, he stopped in place and fed the charging Chiasson who made no mistake.
- Markus Granlund continued his hot run of late with his third goal of the season that tied the game up at three with less than 10 minutes left in the final period. Granlund fired a high shot and won a battle to pick up his own rebound and hacked away until he beat Kuemper, giving the Oilers their third depth goal of the night.
- Leon Draisaitl is on a warpath this league has never seen before and he’s turning the NHL into his own personal plaything. Not only did he add another assist to his totals, but finished the night with a mind-bending 29:00 minutes on the ice.
- Coming into tonight’s game, Connor McDavid had a 10-game point streak rolling and I was stoked to see how he was going to keep it going. Considering the heater he’s on right now, it’s almost kinda funny how many of us thought there might be something going on with the captain only a few weeks ago. Little did we know it was just his software re-starting and that he was about to go supernova. Make it 11 games for McDynasty.
- Mikko Koskinen was tasked with keeping the door shut for the Oilers tonight, and the big man had yet another chance to throw his ridiculous start to the year back in the faces of everyone who doubted him. So far this season, Koskinen has been razor sharp when called upon and the Oilers were going to need a repeat performance again if they were going to dispose of those pesky Coyotes. While he wasn’t perfect tonight, that third goal was certainly one that he’d like to have back, Koskinen made a bunch of big saves that contributed to getting the game to overtime. In the shootout, he was perfect and stopped all three shots he faced which made winning down at the other end a whole lot easier for the boys. It wasn’t a perfect night stats-wise, but Koskinen made enough saves to pull out the win. He finished his night with 26 saves and a .892 save%.
- Props to Sam Gagner for filling in admirably for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as he’s expected to mix the a couple of games with a hand injury. Gagner had all kinds of jump on the second line and even picked up an assist on Alex Chiasson’s second period marker.
- Another point for Oscar Klefbom as the sexy Swede continues to find himself on nearly a 60-point pace. He’s been a lot of fun to watch this season.
- For as long as I have a platform to talk about it, I’m going to pump Ethan Bear’s tires for all of the time work he’s doing on the Oilers’ blue line so far. From the way he moves and handles the puck to his smart defensive reads in the defensive zone, Bear has been an excellent addition to the right side of the depth chart that not many would have seen coming.
- Perfect on the power play! The Oilers (somehow) had only the one opportunity but they made good on it with the opening goal by James Neal.
- Oilers outshot the Coyotes 36-29 and basically needed every single of them to make this win happen. You know what I mean.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Carl Soderberg tied the game up at one apiece with a power play goal that beat Koskinen low as he was moving cross-crease. Leading up to the goal, the Coyotes were moving the puck around Edmonton’s zone effectively, leaving little opportunity for the Oilers to clear, and it almost seemed inevitable that they were going to convert.
- Christian Fischer tied the game at two apiece after finding himself wide open in the slot. Now, one could argue that he was so wide open because he interfered with Connor McDavid only moments beforehand, but, as per tradition, the refs either missed it or refused to make a call.
- Only 1:33 after Arizona tied the game at two, Vinnie Hinostroza gave the home side their first lead of the night with a horrible angle goal that seemed to have eyes as it made its way through traffic and past Koskinen. After dominating the play for 14 minutes or so, the Oilers found themselves going from pushing for a wider lead to chasing in a matter of a few shifts.
- I did not like finding out that Nuge wouldn’t be playing tonight because of some kind of mystery injury to his hand. According to the Oilers’ tweet, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is expected to miss two games due to the injury, and, looking at the schedule, keeping out against the Coyotes and Avalanche means that he will be on the shelf for about a week. I wonder if RNH had something going on for a while and this break in the schedule gave the staff a little bit of runway to sit him out so that things don’t get any worse?
- The Oilers can’t be perfect on the PK (1/2) all the time, I suppose. I guess I’m just getting greedy, huh?
- The Coyotes won 51% of the faceoffs tonight. Do we care? Not really, do we? Room for improvement and we’ll leave it at that.
|02:05||Edmonton||PPG – James Neal (14) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (32), Connor McDavid (29)||1-0|
|09:43||Arizona||PPG – Carl Soderberg (7) ASST: Nick Schmaltz (15), Alex Goligoski (11)||1-1|
|01:22||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson (2) ASST: Sam Gagner (3), Oscar Klefbom (17)||2-1|
|11:52||Arizona||Christian Fischer (3) ASST: Michael Grabner (3), Alex Goligoski (12)||2-2|
|13:25||Arizona||Vinnie Hinostroza (4) ASST: Alex Goligoski (13), Jakob Chychrun (4)||2-3|
|13:12||Edmonton||Markus Granlund (3) ASST: Patrick Russell (4)||3-3|
|Arizona||Missed – Nick Schmaltz|
|Edmonton||Goal – Connor McDavid|
|Arizona||Missed – Conor Garland|
|Edmonton||Missed – Leon Draisaitl|
|Arizona||Missed – Vinnie Hinostroza|
I have a feeling ppl are really gonna see how much Nuge brings to the game, over the next 2 while he’s out.
— Real Steal 18 (@RPW_1832) November 25, 2019
Anyone checked on @jsbmbaggedmilk to see if he managed to successfully cauterize his wound from amputating his hand to send to Nuge?
— Cummingtonite? (@geology24_7) November 25, 2019
@OilersnationHQ So, I’ve wandered around the whole arena, and I can’t help but think the Coyotes have missed a huge marketing opportunity.
Not a single Kessel Dog anywhere.
— David Smitten (@DavidSmitten) November 25, 2019
James Neal has more goals than any player on the Calgary Flames this season.
— Eric Friesen (@EricJFriesen) November 25, 2019
— McSlammin (@samakehurst91) November 25, 2019
— Ian Bendfeld (@pumpfeld) November 25, 2019
How the f*ck am I going to handle playoff hockey?!
— Josie (@josieoilerfan) November 25, 2019
THE BLACKOUT COLLECTION
We’ve upgraded every aspect of this year’s gear and we cannot wait for you guys to check it out! The 2019 Blackout collection is coming soon and available only at NationGear.ca.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/24/2019 – 9:30 pm MT