The Edmonton Oilers (7-4-1) were in the Windy Motor to take on the Detroit Red Wings (4-7-2) for the early game on HNIC tonight. The visitors looked to continue their winning ways after a nice victory over Chicago on Tuesday. The Red Wings hoped to continue their recent turnaround after a dismal start to their campaign.
No lineup changes for the Oilers heading into this one, including in net, as Mikko Koskinen earned his second straight start after a wonderful performance against the Blackhawks.
The new-look Oilers first line, now with more Drake Caggiula, pounced immediately. The game’s first sequence saw Connor McDavid turn the defender over behind the Detroit net before finding a slashing Caggiula en route to the slot. Edmonton’s newest “The Answer” made no mistake, finding the top right corner with a nifty finish. 1-0.
Edmonton looked as though they might threaten to take the game over, continuing to push after their early tally. Unfortunately, Detroit was able to stabilize soon after and began to grow into the game themselves. This back and forth would continue for a couple minutes before Edmonton earned their first power play, as Leon Draisaitl was slashed after a smooth entry.
The PP managed to squeak a couple of shots through on goal, but none were of the mouthwatering variety and the Wings survived. This would prove important.
The Red Wings started to gain momentum after their kill, and Koskinen was finally called upon. First, through a sharp angled effort he managed to parry into the slot, but Khaira was there and able to skate to safety. Next, through a scramble in front that could be traced back to a Darnell Nurse calamity. Unfortunately, Koskinen couldn’t handle all of it, and obvious Andy Samberg character Jacob de la Rose squeezed one through to tie it at 1-1.
Before the period ended, Jujhar Khaira would go close as he and Kyle Brodziak found themselves on a 2-on-1, but he fired wide. Otherwise, the period ended without much incident. Tied 1-1 via Caggiula and de la Rose. Shots 11-10 Oilers.
The Oilers started the middle frame as they began the first - with the initiative. This early drive was rewarded with a penalty call early, but the Oilers did some real work at 6-on-5 and the play was never blown dead. After some nice work to keep possession by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the puck found Connor McDavid on the left side. He threaded a wonderful pass to a wide open Alex Chiasson who promptly buried first time to restore the Oilers lead.
Interesting, the benefits of right handed shooters in a man-advantage scenario.
The Oilers began to take the game over, thoroughly, in the second period. Total control from virtually start to finish. Stringing together shift after shift of attacking, positive play, the visitors played their hosts out of the game in the second.
This good work throughout the lineup was rewarded with a goal from the fourth line (!!). Excellent work on the forecheck by Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira before the latter found Kyle Brodziak open in the high slot. A smooth finish by the veteran on his second tour through Edmonton and the Oilers were clear by two. 3-1.
The Oilers continued to press and the Red Wings began to wilt. This would continue too, until an unfortunate bounce with less than 30 seconds remaining saw the puck deflect behind Mikko Koskinen to cut the lead in half. 3-2.
The remaining seconds passed by without incident, but the Oilers were thoroughly dominant in the period and were unlucky to only be leading by one. Shots were 27-16 (16-6 in the period) Oilers, who were comfortably ahead in all of the important shares, too.
The third period was kind of boring. The outcome was as good as decided. The Wings had a good first minute, but were pretty much irrelevant after that. Likely due to them being mostly irrelevant this year and the Oilers finding themselves in good knick at the moment. The two teams would trade nothings for the first half of the period before Kyle Brodziak bagged his brace. A screen/pick by Kassian in front, a nice play by Khaira to gain possession and make a pass, and another smooth finish by the local lad and the lead was back to two. 4-2.
You’d think the Red Wings would begin to push at this point but it didn’t really happen. The Red Wings were kept to the outside and/or still having to defend for most of the period. The Oilers were good throughout tonight.
With a few minutes remaining, the Red Wings found themselves a man up, and this proved to generate some momentum for the home side. While the power play was unsuccessful, the ensuing shifts at even strength were arguably their best all night, and Tyler Bertuzzi batted one out of mid air past Koskinen to make it interesting.
But, it wasn’t. The Oilers handled their brown, and won another road game. A pretty poor opponent, but a pretty capable effort overall. Shots were 42-26 at the end of regulation, with the Oilers collecting all two points and an important regulation victory against an opponent they should be beating. Nice.
Koskinen had to make some important saves early, especially a worldie on Martin Frk at the business end of a Detroit 2-on-1 in the first. He’s looked significantly better now that the games count and let’s hope he continues toward showing us all that $2.5MM was actually a fair price.
All four lines found some joy at various points tonight. I enjoy that.
Honestly? Another good week in the books for the Oilers. Hopefully they can keep riding Alex Chiasson’s insane shooting percentage all the way to Stanley.
Tonight was apparently Connor McDavid’s 69th multi-point game as per Sportsnet. Nice.
CF% - 62.64%
FF% - 64.94%
SCF% - 64.58%
HDCF% - 63.16%
(all courtesy Natural Stat Trick)
The defending champion Washington Capitals (5-4-3) get another crack at these upstart Oilers on Monday night, 5:00pm MST. Til then.