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GAME RECAP: Canucks power through flimsy Oilers 4-2

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers (18-12-3) travelled to its provincial neighbour to take on the Vancouver Canucks (15-16-4) this evening. Vancouver is coming off a win against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, with Edmonton coming off a win against the same team on Friday night. The Oilers started the same lineup as they did on Friday night against Philly, hoping for offence from all four lines..

Koskinen got the start, as he should, though going into this game I was hoping he wouldn’t have to stand on his head quite as much. The Canucks countered with Markstrom, who came in having won four straight games. The unfortunate news coming out of Edmonton yesterday is that Oscar Kelfbom, the Oilers’ clear-cut #1 defenseman and big-minute eater, will be out indefinitely due to surgery on a broken pinkie finger. Six to eight weeks without this workhorse could be interesting to say the least, and it’s important that the Oilers win these games against sub .500 teams during this period. In Klefbom’s place, Darnell Nurse has been putting up career high TOI numbers next to Adam Larsson. And with Kris Russell still out, Caleb Jones drew into the lineup for his second straight (and second career) NHL game.

First Period

Through two shifts, I again marvel at how many penalties McDavid should draw, yet is unable to. The Spooner-Caggiula-Rieder combo almost knock in a rebound, Puljujarvi trips himself like an ungraceful baby deer and puts himself off-side, McDavid just misses Chiasson on a 2 on 1… otherwise a fairly uneventful first few minutes of the game for the Oilers.

Is it just me or does it feel like we ice the puck a lot?

Tobi Rieder’s skate flew up and almost decapitated Drake Caggiula – thankfully, he seemed okay. Always scary to see skates fly up, brings up memories of Tomas Vokoun in Florida.

Edmonton’s fourth line put up a few quality chances in their solid zone time, not allowing the Canucks much room to breathe. Eriksen comes back the other way and just about roofs it on Koskinen, but just misses. An exciting sequence, but still 0-0.

Puljujarvi takes some of the most unnecessary penalties. The puck is long gone, yet he decides to drag down Petterson at centre ice. I want to cheer for this kid so badly, but he drives me crazy. (Upon second review, Petterson drew the call by grabbing Jesse’s arm - my mistake). Garrison with a couple of nice blocks on the penalty kill, and the Oilers kill it off without any true danger. He semi-made up for it in my books with a nice drive to the net, though it didn’t lead to anything particularly lethal.

The one time I really noticed Caleb Jones in the first period, he made a great positional play in the D-zone before turning it up to McDavid with crisp pass which led to a dangerous chance.

Score 0-0. Shots 8-7 Oilers.

Second Period

The game is up for grabs going into the second. Who wants it more?

Koskinen makes a nice save on Loui Eriksson after Benning fumbles the puck in the corner. Benning is either on and playing a great game, or he seems incredibly shaky. Not much middle ground.

1-0 Oilers!! After Pujuljarvi (who looks destined to make me rethink my previous comments) creates a turnover behind the goal line, Khaira drops a nice pass for RNH who makes no mistake for his 11th of the year.

The fourth line follows up the goal with some solid pressure, and Kassian almost busts through the defencemen for a breakaway but then is rocked into the end boards… somehow no call? The Canucks turn it up the other way and Koskinen makes a few nice stops after Benning blows a tire trying to flip around.

Benning then draws a penalty on Edler, who delivers a ever-so-gentle (except, not) crosscheck to Matt’s face in front of the Oilers net. Benning is slow to get up, and looks to be in discomfort on the Oilers bench. Can’t afford another D-man injury right now…

The Oilers powerplay tries three consecutive entries with McDavid carrying it in and none are successful. The second unit, with Spooner as its QB, looks to be a little more functional though they can’t generate anything useful either. Oilers 0 for 1 on the PP.

Great save by Koskinen on Horvat from the high slot, and then another big one on Roussel in close rattles the big-boned netminder. He’s fine though, don’t worry.

Caleb Jones takes a penalty for holding, and gets a lecture from the officials for it. Edler then scores on a blast a few seconds into the powerplay. 1-1 game.

In the Oilers end, officials miss a blatant high-stick that drops Larsson. Kassian and Lucic then barrel in on a 2 on 1, with little to no success. The brutal officiating in the game continues, as Gravel is awarded a delay of game penalty. Boeser sneaks one through on Koskinen. Back to back PPGs for the Canucks and its 2-1 Vancouver. The Oilers penalty kill giving the NHL’s 23rd ranked powerplay some life.

Oilers outshot 18-4 in the second. Oof.

Third Period

Pujuljarvi is now on the first line with Draisatl and McDavid to start the third. Let’s see what happens.

Larsson takes one of the rougher delay of game penalties I’ve seen. Crushes the puck 20 feet over the boards and skates himself over to the box. Pettersson doesn’t waste any time, rips the puck top shelf from the faceoff dot. Great shot. Canucks get their third PPG, and it’s 3-1 Vancouver.

For whatever reason, the puck seems to be sliding off the end of every Oilers stick tonight just as they try to to deliver a pass. A lack of focus? A tired group? Anyways, Pujuljarvi is working hard out there and McDavid seems to be on the ice every other shift. Either way, the group can’t seem to get much going and are getting caught up in the neutral zone often.

Louie Debrusk and Kevin Quinn note how hard the Canucks are playing McDavid tonight. They fail to touch on the holds, interferences and various other infractions he’s fighting through. After a little dustup with Stetcher, it looks like the captain might really take out his frustrations on the next guy to illegally get in his way.

With four minutes left, McDavid races around the entire Canucks team then drops it off for Chiasson who deposits his 15th goal of the season. The boys seem to be buzzin’. 3-2 Canucks.

Anddddd with an empty net, the Oilers work exceptionally hard to not complete a pass. Horvat bounces in the empty-netter. 4-2 ‘Nucks.

The officials refuse to call a penalty on the Canucks for mugging McDavid. He is clearly frustrated with this issue lately.

Shots 30-22. Score 4-2. All in favour of Vancouver.

Overall, a pretty listless effort from the Oilers tonight. Lacked urgency, focus and effort. Maybe they just play poorly for my recaps? Am I a jinx? Anyways, the Oilers are back again at home on Tuesday vs the St. Louis Blues.