The Edmonton Oilers (11-11-2) welcomed the LA Kings (9-14-1) to town Thursday night. The home side was sporting their glorious blues to commemorate another opportunity to make money off of their fans by re-releasing a jersey they wore regularly as recently as 2016-17. The Kings also wore jerseys.
This one started quickly. Jesse Puljujarvi was Jesse on the spot after a Drake Caggiula power move (more powerful than manufacturing a job as a top-six forward with replacement level results even) left Jonathan Quick reeling.
After a review that was as brief as it was unnecessary, the goal stood and the Oilers were one goal to the good.
Not long after, there was a bit of a scary moment - how scary likely depends on just how important you think Connor McDavid is to the Oilers’ present and future - Dustin Brown was out there doing his usual dumb shit, causing our beloved captain to come significantly closer to serious injury than any of us could likely cope with. No call, either. The NHL loves Dustin Browns.
Thankfully, McDavid was fine and thus nobody took off their skate to stab Dustin Brown. But shortly after that nonsense, McDavid was doing the business on Drew Doughty and the former Norris winner was forced into a penalty. And the Oilers would make him pay for having the audacity to even touch The Captain. 7 seconds into the advantage, Alex Maurice Richard Chiasson collected a rebound and threw his 11th(!!) goal of the season past Jonathan Quick. His previous career high was 12 goals a few years back. We’re in rare air here, people.
Jujhar Khaira had himself a nice little opportunity after some good play along the wall, but Quick was able to answer. It was a nice save and, perhaps it gave the Kings a bit of life - if you believe in those sorts of things.
From there the visitors started to grow in influence over the proceedings and managed to claw all the way back to tie at 2-2. First, via Dustin Brown, the human slug. Second, via a 5-on-3 late in the period after some suspect ref work.
The Oilers managed to stave off a third before the period came to an end, but would start the second period on the penalty kill.
Shots after one were NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED.
The Oilers managed to kill off the abbreviated power play without incident. Shortly after returning to even strength, McDavid manufactured a little magic in the left corner, walking Nate Thompson before drawing iron from a tight angle. The young man is a wonderful, wonderful hockey player.
The Oilers followed this moment of brilliance with a bit of sustained pressure, rattling off 8 consecutive attempts at the Kings net before the visitors managed 1 of their own.
Soon after, however, Mikko Koskinen had to make one of a number of high quality, high leverage saves as Dustin “I’m a human slug” Brown had a breakaway opportunity.
This - again, if you believe in those sort of things - seemed to spark the Kings, as they began to assert themselves in the period.
The remainder of the middle frame was pretty back and forth, and pretty tightly checked. Neither side was able to find a goal and the two teams would head into the third period all square at 2-2 for the second time in as many meetings.
Shots after two periods were NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED.
The third period started a bit slow. I mean, I assume, as I had to switch to radio for a few minutes (as I went to rustle up some Big Macs) and really gleaned nothing about the actual action over the first few minutes while Jack Michaels waxed poetic about which shade of blue made up his favorite iteration of Oilers jersey. Riveting.
I returned to the television just in time to see the Kings sneak in front via Tyler Toffoli. Fortunately - luckily, amazingly, shockingly, inexplicably - the Oilers saw the ensuing challenge (for offside) review break their way, and the goal was wiped. Still 2-2.
Unfortunately, the Oilers didn’t exactly take this new life and run with it. The Kings were probably the better of the two sides for most of the third period. There was still an element of back and forth, but it was more like the Oilers were forthing when McDavid was out there, and backing when he wasn’t.
That’s probably not fair. By eye at least, the Anti-Indemnity Line were doing some real leaning on the Kings in their zone. But, it must be noted, that I can only really see out of one of my eyes, so take it with whatever grain of whatever seasoning you like.
As the clock marched toward the final minutes, Aaron (?) Iafallo tried to send someone in the lower bowl home with a souvenir. Nice gesture, but illegal as per the rulebook. The nice thing about these calls is they’re about the only ones you can generally assume the refs won’t boot. They are so bad at their jobs. And please note, this is NOT me saying I think they’re biased against the Oilers. This is me saying that there isn’t even one single good ref in the NHL. They are obnoxiously incompetent. For all games. For all teams.
But, I digress. They managed to get this completely black-and-white call correct and the Oilers would enjoy a power play at the death. And they would make it count.
A vintage McDavid entry created space at the top for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom to play catch, before the latter one-timed the former’s cherry feed past Quick to put the home side in front for good. 3-2, and that’s how it would finish.
Not without some ridiculousness though. The last 0.5s of game time took about five real, actual, Canadian, human minutes to complete. Those refs. Dogshit.
But, alas, they couldn’t get fully in the way of the Oilers tonight. Edmonton leveled the season series with their divisional contemporaries at 1-1 and Mikko Koskinen improved to 4-0-0 at home. I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought that was a good deal. Always. From the start. Definitely do not check my twitter.
Shots: NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED
CF%: NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED
FF%: NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED
SCF%: NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED
HDCF%: NO GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE DATES YOU SELECTED
Nothing like watching the Oilers win. Like, there is actually nothing like it. The game was pure frustration for 58 minutes. The Kings are not good, and that these games are as close as they are speaks to the calibre of roster Pete Chiarelli has put together. I’m sure it’s frustrating for some of you to hear about how it’s Chiarelli’s fault after every game - even those they win - but holy hell.
Puljujarvi getting a goal tonight will surely help his confidence, and hopefully it will help the confidence of those around him, too. It’s encouraging to see him skating alongside an actual, real, genuine good hockey player in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and hopefully this is just the beginning of Jesse finding his NHL feet for good.
Alex Chiasson continues to exceed everyone’s expectations. It would be nice if his career year was helping the Oilers vault into the upper echelons of the league rather than just into closer proximity to a playoff berth, but we beggars don’t have the luxury of choice.
Our heroes host the Vegas Golden Knights (13-12-1 but playing as we speak) for the HNIC late game. Puck drop a shade after 8pm local. Til then.