Back in that win column!
The Edmonton Oilers were able to get an early lead and hold onto it all game long for a 4-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Leon Draisaitl led the way with 2 goals and an assist while James Neal and Jujhar Khaira got on the board as well.
It was a good rebound from their last two losses and their first road win since October 12th against the New York Rangers. The win improves their record to 9-4-1 on the season, with 18pts in the bank. How did we get here? Glad you asked.
The first period was exactly what you wanted to see from a team coming off a loss. The Oilers had the early chances and were controlling the pace of play all period long. Of course, they were helped out by 3 power-plays in the process. They wouldn’t generate much on the first man-advantage but James Neal would get his 11th of the year on the second one, partly thanks to a brilliant heads up play by Mike Smith. Leon Draisaitl would follow suit, depositing his 11th of the year as well. Oilers were out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, exactly like they drew it up on the board.
The good times would keep rolling early in the second when Jujhar Khaira got his first of the year a little less than a minute in. Khaira is technically playing on the second line but I am chalking this up as bottom 6 goal....FINALLY. Columbus would try to respond, but Leon Draisaitl would pot his second the game on a 2-on-1 with Zack Kassian with 15 minutes on the board. That would be it for Joonas Korpisalo in the Columbus net as Elvis Merzlikins would come on in relief. The change would do some good for the Jackets as Zack Werenski would fire home a power play goal a few minutes later, but that would be all the scoring in the middle frame. 4-1 Oilers after 40.
The third period was uneventful, which was to Edmonton’s favour. Patrick Russell nearly got his first NHL point on a great rush toward the Columbus net, but it was turned away by Merzlikins. Thats all she wrote, 4-1 Oilers win!
- Leon Draisaitl was the best player on the ice tonight, which isn’t the first time that has been the case this season. It looks as though he has found a new gear this season and is starting to catchup to McDavid in terms of impact on each game. He controls the place and is a force in all 3 zones of the ice. Leon picked up 3pts on the night to move him into the lead league with 25pts.
- Mike Smith wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t need to be. He made the saves that he needed to make and that was all that he could be asked to do. Solid outing for #41 in goal.
- Team defence was a lot better tonight as well. The injection of Joel Persson helped get everybody back in order. While Persson himself wasn’t necessarily great, it seemed to help guys like Klefbom and Russell get back to their old selves. The team only let up 24 shots against.
- Riley Sheahan left the game after taking a hard hit from Pierre-Luc Dubois late in the first period. His head went hard into the boards...but all we know for now Is that it is an upper-body injury. Here’s hoping it isn’t that serious.
- The Oilers had to kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 late in the second period. Leon Draisaitl was fantastic and the team got some timely blocks by Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse. You usually see goals on power-plays like that...nice to see the fight on Edmonton’s penalty kill.
- Sticking with the special teams. The power play wasn’t great tonight. They did generate one goal in the first period but other than that it fell flat on their other opportunities.
- I am going to say it. I like Gagner playing with Nugent-Hopkins. He creates chances and makes smart plays with the puck, which is more than Chiasson was doing in that role. I hope we get to see him continue to get time in the top 6 for the short-term.
- Another player I thought was good tonight: Patrick Russell. The guy is the embodiment of the word tenacious and he had a few great chances tonight. He is still looking for his first NHL point and I bet it comes sooner rather than later.
- Haas should be a regular on this roster. He has really good speed and is perhaps the smartest player in the bottom 6 right now.
- It feels good to win! 18pts keeps us in first place in the Pacific Division (3 ahead of Vegas) and 4th in the league. The Oilers will look to make it 10 on the year in Pittsburgh on Saturday!