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Recap: Penguins 3 vs Oilers 1

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Oilers come up short

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers are taking on a Malkin-less version of the Pittsbugh Penguins. The broadcasters are going to tell us all about the playoff race and that the Oilers are in the thick of it, personally, I’m not buying it and am not concerned with out of town scores at this point. That being said, there’s no reason we can’t have a good game of hockey tonight, lets see how this transpires.

1st Period:

Hey, we get Jim Hughson is doing our play-by-play. That’s a tremendous improvement, I like this development. I’ve liked him ever since the days of EA’s NHL 2002, he and Don Taylor were fantastic in that game.

Three minutes in now, and both teams have some jump. The Oilers had a good chance with the 1st line against the Penguins 4th, but Leon Draisaitl just couldn’t connect with Connor McDavid after drawing the defenders away.

Just over four minutes in and he Oilers top line comes out flying. First Oscar Kelfbom settles the puck down and makes a great breakout to Draisaitl. Draisaitl gives it to McDavid who goes into his usual Forsberg mode powering around the defense all hacking at him while he gets a good shot off.

Immediately after that, McDavid and Draisaitl take advantage of a Tanner Pearson giveaway at the Oilers blueline, come in two on one, McDavid gets the pass to Draisaitl, and he rips one past Matt Murray. 1-0 Oilers.

The second line featuring Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira just put in a great shift. They were causing chaos, creating chances and holding the puck in every time the Penguins tried to get it out. This line has always seemed a lot better than anything else they try to make for a second line. Just keep it going.

Immediately after, Mikko Koskinen makes his second save of the game, this one is a big one as Matt Cullen gets a shot from in front. These teams look like they’re going for quality chances more than quantity here.

We had a real close call 8 minutes in. A Kris Russell one-timer bounces off the boards, through Murray’s crease, but Brad Malone just couldn’t get to the puck on time before the net was knocked off.

These teams are still flying despite not getting a lot of pucks on net. Lot’s of back and forth at high-speed in the neutral zone. If one of these teams can manage to connect on their third pass after the breakout, they’ll get a good scoring chance. This, so far, is the kind of hockey people want to watch. Even Alex Petrovic is looking good after being scratched the past 5 games.

Very close call about 14 minutes in as Byran Rust entering the Oilers zone sends the puck over to a streaking Jake Guentzel. Guentzel directs the puck towards the goal, and thankfully, the post was there to keep that out. That was that third completed pass I was talking about.

This is something I haven’t experienced in a while when writing these recaps — I don’t want to turn my attention away from the game. I’ve recently been typing as I go, without fear of missing much, instead of the old way with a pen and paper, then typing after. In this case, that’s working against me. The first line just spent the entire shift in the Penguins zone trying to work the puck to the net, and now the second line is doing the same.

Draisaitl and Kassian get a two on one, Draisaitl elects to shoot. Unfortunately, Matt Murray was able to keep it out.

The period ends with the Oilers leading 11-8 in the shot department, and 1-0 where it counts. That was a great period of hockey.

2nd Period:

Well, during the intermission it showed Oscar Klefbom taking a nasty hack from Phil Kessel in the hand that was just injured. Klefbom looked to be in discomfort, and skated quickly to the bench. We really can’t afford to lose him again.

Ok Oscar Klefbom is back on the first shift. Maybe this is ok.

Looks like Alex Chiasson has replaced Jesse Puljujarvi on the second line for reasons that aren’t at all clear to me. They are having a good shift though, and manage to draw a penalty. It’s Tanner Pearson going to the box for throwing the puck down the ice. Time for the powerplay to step up.

Instead, it’s the Penguins getting on the board. Bryan Rust takes a pass behind the net, and while McDavid and Darnell Nurse get front row seats while doing nothing to stop it, he beats Koskinen with the backhand. 1-1.

The powerplay ends without looking good at any point. -1/1, as far as special teams go.

Just over six minutes in, the Penguins take the lead. Nurse and Russell doing what they do best when they’re in their own end — nothing — and the lazy version of Draisaitl also appeared to show up on that shift after being dominant in the first. There was another player who maybe could have done a bit more there too, but I won’t criticize him. Kris Letang finds Teddy Blueger to beat Koskinen. 2-1 Penguins.

This is a good time for someone to mention to Mark Spector the importance of scoring 1st, by the way.

McDavid with a McDavid shift ten minutes in. He created about three scoring chances there, all started from in the neutral zone. This also comes against Sidney Crosby, who Adam Larsson was able to stop coming in hot. Down by one goal, but there hasn’t been any quit. Not just yet.

Oilers are getting another powerplay as Bryan Rust holds up Klefbom. Hopefully this goes a lot better than the first, and we can tie the game.

It was not a very good powerplay. -12 on special teams now.

With five minutes left, Koskinen has to make a huge save on Sidney Crosby. Adam Larsson ends up elbowing Crosby, and now the Oiler have to do some penalty killing. Well, killing one of their own penalties, this time.

Oilers kill the penalty, and ends with a McDavid breakaway. He gets slashed, and we now have PENALTY SHOT!!!

McDavid goes slowly from left to right showing the forehand the entire time, takes the shot on the right side, but Murray turns him aside. That’s a let down. 0/4 on special teams now.

And the period ends with the Oilers down 2-1, while still leading in the shots department. This is one of those things where scores affect perception. If we came out of this period ahead, I’d be talking about what a great period it was again, it still was, but it doesn’t feel the same when we’re losing. Shots 27-19 Oilers.

3rd Period:

The teams again start out quite well. They might even need to get some peanut butter for all this jam. Not you, Dry Russell.

Although the high pace is still ongoing, four minutes in and not a whole lot of shots either way. The best opportunity was a mini two on one between Draisaitl and Kassian, down low. Domoulin stops the pass from getting across.

McDavid with a great chance just outside the crease six minutes in. Gets the puck to the left of Murray, bobbles it to his forehand but just cant lift it over the pad of a star-fishing Murray.

The teams have tightened up quite a bit now. The stretch passes are becoming few and far between as both teams are looking afraid to make a mistake.

The Penguins are now making a wall at their blueline, and clearing the puck repeatedly. This is a good time for the Oilers to get some pucks on net, but quality chances won’t be easy. Apparently the Penguins are pretty good at this.

Six minutes left and this game has really shut down in terms of excitement. The Penguins are doing a really good job keeping the puck along the boards.

Four minutes left, nothing is happening.

That was some serious clock-killing the Penguins did to end this game. At least a half-period of keeping the puck outside the seam.

Penguins add an empty netter, and win 3-1.

Notes:

  • Actually one of the better games here. They got beat by a team that was better, but they outshot the opposition, and that game really could have gone a different way with a bounce here or there. I can handle losing with a real effort, they gave that tonight.
  • Really, every player played pretty well. There were gaffes, but that happens every game to every player, some just end up mattering.
  • 2 points out of last in the west, let’s put playoff aspirations to bed entirely. It’s not happening.