It is often said that all you need is love, but truly, all the Oilers needed tonight were some good 'ol goals, and goals they got in a much-needed, convincing 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
The concern of late for the Oilers has been the fact that they only had five goals in their last five games, losing the scintillating momentum they had accumulated prior to the All Star Break with back-to-back wins over Anaheim and San Jose. The McBlender produced a new seasonal Frappuccino offering, double blended, as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were forced to put their chemistry aside for the greater good and anchor their own lines.
For one game, at least, the newly engineered lines seemed to spark the offence, as the Oilers got goals from five different players, included some unlikely candidates, with Mark Letestu's game-winner in the second wrestling some crucial momentum back midway through a game that could have easily swung the other way. With the win tonight, the Oilers move within two points of Anaheim Ducks for second in the Pacific Division (and with a game in hand, too).
A lot of the goals scored tonight weren't the prettiest, but came at crucial times and were just what the team wanted to see more of.
"You get to see highlights every night and for the most part it's a lot of pretty goals," said Matt Hendricks, who gave the Oilers their first lead of the game with a scrappy second-period goal. "But if we want to produce on a regular basis, we've got to have that [greasy] part of our game, as well."
"We've been talking about it-- we've got to be a little bit more greasy, score some greasy goals," emphasized decidedly non-greasy human Oscar Klefbom, who had his first career three-point night. "We've got so many guys that are so skilled and so good, we knew it was just a matter of time before the goals were going to come."
The Coyotes opened the scoring in the first period at 10:44 when Josh Jooris tipped in Ekman-Larsson's shot for his third of the season. The first period overall should be filed under "Things To Wipe From Memory," as the Oilers who showed up were very much the Oilers of the Saturday night match against the Blackhawks.
The second period, thankfully, was when the Frappuccino started to find its flavour. Leon Draisaitl, who on Valentine's Day begins his journey without Connor McDavid at his side, tied things up on the power play 2:51 into the second, corralling the pass from Lucic behind the net for his 21st of the season.
Just 31 seconds later, a mad flurry in front of the net led to the most Matt Hendricks goal in history, as he somehow banged it in for a gritty, greasy, dirty, beautiful goal to put the Oilers up 2-1. A combination of fine German engineering and blue-collar American hustle resulted in a sudden momentum reversal in the Oilers' favour.
Not content with the momentum, the Oilers handed it right back to the Coyotes 11 seconds later as the Oilers’ second line decided to take a cigar break while Martin Hanzal streaked in and snapped home his 14th of the season to tie the game up once again at 2-2.
It was special teams specialist and all-around special guy Mark Letestu who helped the Oilers reclaim the lead midway through the third with a beautiful snapshot on a two-man advantage, putting the home team up 3-2 courtesy of some crisp passing by McDavid and Draisaitl.
And let's face it, it wouldn't be Valentine's Day without the person every man, woman, and child has a crush on-- Oscar Klefbom snapped home his ninth of the season with some deft timing on the zone entry, putting the Oilers up 4-2 just 2:43 into the third period as Draisaitl picked up his third point of the night with an assist on the goal.
Patrick Maroon soon extended the lead to 5-2, looking to the rafters with arms outstretched like he had found El Dorado as he tapped in a rebound off of Klefbom's shot for his 20th goal of the season. Maroon's goal at 6:29 in the third also gave Connor McDavid his 19th multi-point game of the year, as he picked up his 45th assist and second of the game on the Big Rig's tally.
Momentum is a fickle thing, and the Oilers were able to reverse it quickly in this game when it seemed to be slipping from them; tonight's win hopefully allows the Oilers to reclaim some momentum on the season after a disheartening loss to Chicago, nipping a potential downward turn at the bud, in a time of the season many players on the team (and fans) are not yet used to equating with meaningfulness.
Note: Tonight's Good, Bad, and Ugly will be summarized through Beyonce song titles.
- Leon Draisaitl: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)-- We know Dr. Drai likes playing with Connor, because who doesn't, but tonight he showed he is more than capable of carrying any line on his own broad German shoulders, chipping in a goal and two assists in a stellar showing.
- Oscar Klefbom: God Made You Beautiful-- Oscar Klefbom also had three points tonight, with a goal and two assists, and led the team with 25:26 in ice time. He also blocked three shots and had no giveaways. He has no flaws, and we should all just accept that.
- Patrick Maroon: Daddy Lessons-- Led the team with a stellar 76.92% CF, and provided a much-needed insurance goal against a team with no quit. Went absolutely ham with a team-leading eight shots on goal, and threw his body around for five hits, too. Let's all just give this man a round of applause for reaching the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career-- it hasn't been easy.
- Connor McDavid: If I Were a Boy-- Because, if I were a boy, I'd want to be Connor McDavid and have his coolness, speed, and absolutely remarkable 45 assists on the season. His speed still stuns me every game.
- Mark Letestu: Don't Hurt Yourself-- Letestu's importance this season cannot be stressed enough. His go-ahead goal late midway through the second was the game-winner tonight, and he now has 11 goals on the season-- that's the same amount as Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Showed off some great hands in making a crafty pass to Caggiula near the end of the second on a two-on-one rush, too. Teams make playoff runs off the depth of third-line centers like Letestu, and it's vital he stays healthy in the lineup because his role is one that may sometimes go unnoticed when he's present, but will be very glaring when he's absent.
- Eric Gryba: No Angel-- On a night when the Oilers won by a wide margin, Gryba somehow managed to finish a -1 and took two badly-timed penalties, one that put the Oilers down two men late in the second period when they were holding onto a precarious one-goal lead. I'm going to say it-- I miss Kris Russell. I also miss Darnell Nurse.
- Matt Benning: Start Over-- Nothing too ugly tonight, really, but Matt Benning had himself a (rare) lacklustre game, going +9/-17 and also taking an untimely penalty near the end of the second. Had two giveaways and no shots or hits.
Game in a Haiku
Ring the alarm! Those
Oilers are scoring goals, sooooo
drunk in love tonight.