The actually good (?) Edmonton Oilers (15-7-3) were in Arizona to tangle with the upstart Coyotes (14-8-2) one night after their excellent, comprehensive victory in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights. Arizona played the night before as well, narrowly beating the Los Angeles Kings in California. The Oilers entered this one three points ahead of the Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead with Arizona having a game in hand. Earlier today it was announced that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would sit this one out (and potentially another) with a hand injury.
The Oilers would enjoy their first power play of the game less than two minutes into the first, as Arizona was caught with too many men on the ice. The Oilers — still owners of the league’s most efficient power play — sent their top unit over the boards and they wasted no time getting on the board.
After establishing the zone and flinging the puck around a little bit, Connor McDavid theaded a pass through the box to Leon Draisaitl, who in turn found James Neal on the doorstep to redirect home for the early lead. Neal’s 14th of the season would make him the Calgary Flames’ top goalscorer this season. Thanks again, Jim. 1-0.
The Oilers couldn't celebrate for long, however, as penalties to Patrick Russell and Joakim Nygard in the next few minutes forced them to defend. They killed the first penalty without incident, and were four seconds from killing the second when the Coyotes found an equalizer through Carl Soderberg. 1-1.
No more scoring from there,but Mikko Koskinen did have to be sharp on a couple of occasions to keep it tied 1-1 heading into the intermission.
The Oilers started the second period in similar fashion to the first, only this time the damage was done at even strength.
Sam Gagner attacked from the right side with speed before trying to throw the puck in front of Coyotes’ netminder Darcy Kuemper. His pass was deflected away, but he chased down the loose puck and made a nifty feed to a trailing Alex Chiasson in front to fire home and restore the Oilers lead. 2-1.
Edmonton used the momentum from this goal to grow their influence over the game, and by the midpoint of the second period were looking pretty comfortable out there. Unfortunately, the second half was a different story.
With two quick goals in about 90 seconds, the Coyotes took the lead. First, Christian Fischer found himself in acres of space after just previously holding Connor McDavid’s leg for way too many Mississippis in the neutral zone to hammer a one-timer beyond Koskinen and tie the game. 2-2.
Next, Vinnie Hinostroza gathered a rebound from the end wall near the right corner and somehow beat Koskinen from an awful angle to put the Coyotes in front. 2-3.
That goal knocked the sails out of the visiting Oilers a little bit, and they couldn’t offer much in response as the second period came to a close.
As expected, the Coyotes were content to sit back and absorb whatever the Oilers could offer them in the final frame. Sledding was tough, and chances were few and far between through the first ten minutes.
In fact, at around the halfway point of the period, one might have been forgiven if they thought that this one wasn’t coming up Milhouse. That the Oilers weren’t looking likely to claw back into the game.
But Markus Granlund — yes, that Markus Granlund — had other ideas. After collecting a Patrick Russell pass at the rightmost hash mark, he fired a shot on target. Kuemper fought it off, but Granlund made his Jr. High basketball coach proud and followed his shot, gathered the rebound, and put it in to tie the game. 3-3.
After that, the Oilers were like whatever the natural predator of the coyote is. They smelled coyote blood, and went searching for the kill in regulation. A few nice shifts in succession from a few different lines meant the Coyotes were under pressure as time wound down in the third, but the Oilers couldn’t find the go ahead goal.
Overtime is the best. Chances everywhere. More for the Oilers it felt like, as Tippett used his timeout to get McDavid and Draisaitl out for as much of the extra frame as possible, but who can really be sure. It’s crazy out there. Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn’t find an OT GWG on this occasion, and this game would head to a shootout.
Pretty reasonable effort in this one to earn the points after ultimately coughing up the lead in the second period. The Oilers were resilient on this night, with Mikko Koskinen making just enough saves to keep the Oilers close enough to eventually tie it, and the other guys chipping in offensively to offset a relatively quiet night from The Batmans.
Arizona were relatively successful in keeping the Oilers’ big guns quiet at even strength, including in overtime, where the usual transcendent talent of McDavid and Draisaitl typically proves too much. Credit to Arizona then for forcing a shootout after they coughed up a third period lead.
I could be wrong here, but I don’t think Mikko Koskinen has been beaten in a shootout yet this season. I mean at all. Zero goals against. Good for him. Good for us.
All in all, a pretty solid performance, and another victory well earned. It’s getting less and less weird to say that, I have to admit.
CF - 61-49 55.45%
FF - 44-36 - 55%
SCF - 36-30 - 54.55%
HDCF - 10-13 - 43.48%
xGF - 2.61 - 2.42 - 51.93%
Shots - 32-23 - 58.18%
Golazos - 2-2 - 50%
The Oilers get the Colorado Avalanche (13-8-2) in Denver to wrap up their already successful five-game road trip on Wednesday at 8PM MST. See you then!