This game was an interesting one. Despite the fact that the Oilers heavily were outmanned in the possession game, the team showed resiliency and pulled out a W against a really good Blues team. From the start, the Oilers had set the tempo of the game and really showed that they were not going to allow the Blues to push them around as they have for many years.
Before the puck even hit the ice last night, I thought this could be a perfect storm for the Blues to roll over the Oilers. Monday night, the Blues got cremated by the Flames 7-4 and knowing Ken Hitchcock that wasn't going to fly. Lo and behold, Hitch didn't quite have his team ready and the Oilers were able to capitalize.
The Oilers special teams came up big tonight scoring four power play goals against the league's 2nd ranked penalty kill in thanks to two goals from Nugent-Hopkins, one from Mark Letestu and one from Leon Draisaitl. They picked a good night, as in the last 20 games the Oilers have gone a embarrassing 4 for 53 (7.5%) on the PP.
Last night, the Oilers did something that seldom happens for the team, and were actually able to put sixty minutes together holding the lead for the entire game.
Well, except for 1:42 in the second period where the game was tied.
The two penalties the Oilers killed early in the first period after Leon Draisaitl took two questionable penalties. None the less it proved to be important, and McLellan pulled him off the line with Taylor Hall and Iiro Pakarinen opting to swap him with Mark Letestu for a shift or two afterwards.
That proved to work in the Oilers favour, as Leon Draisaitl ended up having a better night from that point. He got one goal on the power play called back on after Ken Hitchcock challenged the call for offside. It turned out Hall had been offside thus negating Draisaitl goal. However, that didn't delay him getting on the scoresheet for long as he managed to score on the next shift.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who missed 21 games with a broken hand, has slid right back into the lineup and shown how important it is to have three centers. His two goals last night were fantastic, and it shows he is no worse for wear after suffering the aforementioned hand injury. Did you see him put that puck short side on Jake Allen? There wasn't much to shoot at but he still was able to sneak it in there.
I have been a big Nugent-Hopkins fan since he was first drafted to the team, and the team is so much better with him in the lineup.
It was Feb. 28 when Peter Chiarelli mentioned he wanted to see the team be able to roll three lines. With RNH's return from injury, the way the lines have been constructed these last three games have allowed for Chiarelli to see what the Oilers have. With nine games left in the season, he will get a few more looks at what the team looks like. Hopefully a few more players are able to return from injury soon. He has some big decisions to make this offseason and it will be interesting to see what moves get made.
If the Oilers could just stop allowing the opposing team to score with a minute of any Oiler goal, that would be fantastic. All in all, two points is two points.
It's past 3 am and past my bedtime, this post-gamer is over.
Next up: Oilers take on the Canucks Friday night at Rexall Place.