Throughout the season there have been games where the Oilers played like the team many of us thought they would be. Tonight was one of those nights and it was so nice to watch.
It was Devan Dubnyk's first visit back to Rexall Place since being traded but alas we wouldn't get to see him play since Barry Trotz decided to go with the hot hand and play Carter Hutton in net. Trotz's bet didn't pay off and the Oilers were able to skate to a very convincing victory.
First Goal For
This goal was great if only for the reason that the Oilers fourth line actually cycled the puck like an actual NHL line. To top it all off the pass from Jesse Joensuu to Justin Schultz was a thing of beauty. If I didn't know better I would've guessed Joensuu was more than just a NHL fourth liner/border line AHL winger.
The First Goal Against
This a funny goal in the sense that when the puck gets turned over Martin Marincin double clutches and doesn't really know whether to challenge the puck or turn around. He ends up doing half of each but basically does nothing and the play ends up as a two on one against Jeff Petry. Petry takes away the pas but goes down too late to stop the shot and it fools Ben Scrivens and goes over his right shoulder.
The Game Winner
This was probably the nicest goal of the night. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gains the zone and makes a nice drop pass to Taylor Hall (by nice I mean he knows where Hall is doesn't just leave it there for Hall to try and chase down). Hall lines himself up like he is going to shoot but instead gets a nice hard pass over to Jordan Eberle who has a wide open net to score on.
Smyth Ties Gretzky
The last power play goal that Ryan Smyth scored was on December 27, 2013 in a 2-0 defeat of the Calgary Flames. That goal put him one away from tying Wayne Gretzky for second in all time power play goals for the Edmonton Oilers. Today he tied it with a typical Ryan Smyth goal from inside the blue paint. It should be noted that if not for a stupid rule in the 1998-99 season, Smyth would've probably hit this mark a while ago. Anyway here is the goal.
The Game Review
The interesting thing is that the Oilers lost the Corsi battle and you can almost bet some "analyst" is going to bring that up but what they will probably fail to mention is the Corsi Close number. The Oilers had a total Corsi of 45% on the night but in close situations that number was inflated to 61%. That is a pretty good game by one of the worst teams in the NHL.
The Momentum Killer
Tonight's momentum killer doesn't belong to an Oilers' player instead it belongs to Taylor Beck. On two occasions he ran the goaltender nullifying an equalizer for the Predators and a third period attempt for the Predators to get back into the game.
Beck was a bit wreck in this game. He took a stupid penalty on what could've been a goal for the Predators and on the ensuing power play Edmonton was able to get 4 pretty decent shots on net. His second incident would've given the Predators a chance to come back, instead he felt the only way for his team to score was if he were to lay right on top of Ben Scrivens while his line mate shot the puck into an empty net.
The Momentum Driver
I know people are probably going to crucify me for not saying Ryan Smyth but for me it had to be Ben Scrivens. The Oilers have been in desperate need of good goaltending for a while now and today Ben Scrivens delivered that. He made some great stops and one phenomenal one against a pinching Shea Weber. He played the type of game that gave the team in front of him the momentum to push the play forward.
Tonight it had to be the fourth line. This had been one of the few games where the Oilers fourth line was better than their opponent's fourth line and it was nice to see. I still don't understand why the Oilers insist on thinking that Smyth is a centre but he played well and so did his entire line.
During Dallas Eakins' post game media scrum one of the reporters asked the following question. It sounded like Matty but I'm not 100% sure maybe someone else can verify.
You may consider this a stupid question but did the Skills Competition have any effect on this game?
I don't know why anyone would ask this. It makes no sense and had nothing to do with the game. I have give Eakins props for not bursting into laughter and he actually gave a pretty good response to the question. You can watch the video here.
The Oilers travel to Vancouver tomorrow to face the Canucks. It sounds like Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start in net as Dallas Eakins alluded to in his post game scrum. It also looks like the team will be without Ales Hemsky and Andrew Ference.