The Edmonton Oilers (13-6-3) were in San Jose to kick off a five-game road trip tonight, with a battle against the surging Sharks (10-10-1). The Oilers, still Pacific Division leaders, were losers last time out after blowing a two-goal lead against the Dallas Stars. The Sharks came into this one hot, having won six consecutive games — including one against the Oilers — after a sluggish start to the 2019-20 season.
The Oilers started well enough in this one, with the first couple of shifts yielding little either way before the visitors struck first.
A nice, extended shift in the offensive zone by the Gaetan Haas, Markus Granlund, and Alex Chiasson trio allowed Klefbom to attack from the left point with a bit of space. He stepped in a few paces before firing a beautiful seam pass to a wide open Granlund who made no mistake. 1-0.
A few minutes later after a brief pushback from the Sharks, the Oilers struck again. Darnell Nurse found himself with it at the left point before firing a pass toward a cutting Connor McDavid in the middle. McDavid then directed a pass to Zack Kassian who took a couple of whacks, fell on top of Martin Jones, and just managed to squeeze it over the line. Confirmed after a brief review. 2-0.
After this, the wheels fell off a little bit for Edmonton. The Sharks pumped the Oilers for a good spell that included finding a goal of their own and drawing a penalty. Luckily, the Oilers’ stout road PK (best in the league as of this writing) held up and the Sharks couldn’t equalize.
This would prove crucial, as the Oilers weren’t done scoring themselves. After another nice shift that pinned the Sharks in their end long enough for Edmonton to change, Jujhar Khaira and Kris Russell played catch for a second before the former walked into the high slot and wired one past a screened Martin Jones. 3-1.
The period ended moments later and the Oilers carried a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Honours even through the first half of the second period with neither side able to generate much in the way of high-quality looks.
Around the midpoint of the period the Sharks began to assert themselves a little more, with Mikko Koskinen having to be sharp to keep the Oilers lead at two goals. He was indeed sharp in this one, however, and the Sharks couldn’t find one from the pressure.
Pivotal once again. In the midst of a bit of a pushback shift from the Oilers’ top line of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zack Kassian, Draisaitl fed McDavid the most wonderful sneaky little slip pass to send The Captain in toward goal. He dangled around a few teal pylons en route to the paint and drew a penalty for his troubles.
And the NHL’s best PP went to work. The puck eventually found McDavid on the left wall and he promptly fired a pass to the tip of the crease for James Neal to redirect his 9th PPG of the season beyond Jones. 4-1.
Moments later, Draisaitl drew another obstruction penalty and the Oilers’ PP hopped the boards once more with about a minute left in the middle period.
Unfortunately, the best chance would fall to the Sharks as a 2-on-1 forced a strong right leg save from Koskinen, with the Oilers’ PP struggling to get established this time.
The second period finished with the Oilers enjoying a 4-1 lead after two periods on the back of some timely finishing and another nice effort from Mikko Koskinen, and would have about a minute of PP time to start the third.
While the Oilers began the final frame with the man advantage, they could only manage one high quality chance via Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, whose shot was fought off by Martin Jones.
After the penalty, the two teams fought to a standstill for the better part of the period. The Oilers managed to generate a bit of momentum after their PP but it wouldn’t last long. The two sides would trade periods of pressure but neither really able to generate anything dangerous.
That would change at about the 7 minute mark, as another nice shift from the Oilers top line led to Connor McDavid tapping in a Darnell Nurse rebound into an empty net to push the Oilers lead to 5-1.
The Sharks would find a consolation marker in similar fashion a few shifts later as a fortuitous bounce sat there for Barclay Goodrow to bang in to cut the lead to 5-2 with about ten minutes to play.
The two teams would trade a few chances here and there as the rest of the period played out but after the Oilers added their fifth this one was mostly academic. Neither goaltender had to work too hard and for me, the fact the Oilers had their best period in terms of 5v5 rates after taking a huge lead speaks to how much of a formality this period really was.
The Oilers jumped out to an early lead, got pumped for a decent segment of the first period but survived it, and then extended their lead. Over and over.
After about the midpoint of the first, they played the Sharks relatively even, and that’s after jumping out to a lead less than five minutes into this one. Chalk this up as a competent road win against a surging hockey club that ran their show a little bit only a few weeks ago. A nice effort by a club that needed to rebound after choking away a lead over the weekend. Two points in the bag, no Bettman points donated to a division rival, and on to the next one.
Hat tip to Mikko Koskinen who was excellent early and really did provide the Oilers with a platform to go out and win the damn game. I don’t think even his most ardent supporters last season would have pegged him to look this good this often and become a legitimate source of reassurance whenever the lineups are posted on game days this year. Quite the start to 2019-20 for him for sure.
All numbers 5v5 and courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
CF: 48-56 - 46.15%
FF: 40-40 - 50%
SCF: 29-34 - 46.03%
HDCF: 13-12 - 52%
xGF: 3.19 - 3.16 - 50.24%
Shots: 26-30 - 46.43%
Golazos: 4-2 - 66.67%
The Pacific Division leaders (14-6-3) get the L.A. Kings (8-12-1) on Thursday night for another 8:30 MST start. See you then.