The Edmonton Oilers (27-30-7) were up bright and early this morning to take on the recently-bolstered Columbus Blue Jackets (36-24-3) in Ohio. Hopes were mostly down heading into this one given the Oilers season-to-date and propensity for laying an ovum or two in matinees, but Columbus are trying to integrate three new players into their group right now, so they could be ripe for the plucking.
Side note - can you pluck a blue jacket? I suppose if it were a blue feather jacket. I digress.
Both teams eased their way into this contest with the home side showing the early initiative. Mikko Koskinen had to be sharp early to fend off a couple of Columbus chances, but none of them would equate to grand larceny. The Oilers defense was just robust enough to start this contest.
Connor McDavid, ever dangerous, managed to finagle his way through a throng of Blue Jackets and find himself in front of a flailing Bobrovsky, but he couldn’t slot it in.
Soon afterward, Artemi Panarin, Columbus’ very own superstar, did McDavid one better as he weaved through a gaggle of Oilers to find himself in front of Koskinen but he, too, would be denied.
That was about that for real excitement in the first period, but there would be more to come from the visitors.
After the Oilers turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Kris Russell found Leon Draisaitl in transition. The German Physician crossed the blue line before threading a wonderful pass through the seam - and a few bodies - to a wide open Zack Kassian. Kassian made no mistake and slipped one past Bobrovsky’s right elbow to put the Oilers in front, 1-0.
What a nice development.
The remainder of the period was simply a professional road effort by the Oilers. Columbus found most of their joy offensively before the goal anyway, save for one great chance via a partial break for Cam Atkinson. Darnell Nurse made an excellent play on the backcheck to disrupt Atkinson and Koskinen was able to direct the danger elsewhere.
All in all the first period was one to hang your hat on if you’re an Edmonton Oiler. Relatively even territorially and ahead where it matters most.
Shots after one were 10-9 CBJ, but the Oilers should feel good about their effort and their 1-0 lead heading into the break.
I’m not sure what happened in either locker room at intermission, but one would assume that the Oilers ate the hearts of children, and the Blue Jackets ate full entire whole lasagnas given how the middle frame played out.
The Oilers were on the Blue Jackets early, with arguably their best shift of the season coming just a few minutes into the period. Before that shift, too, McDavid was buzzing around the Columbus zone before darting a pass to a pinching down Adam Larsson who couldn’t connect in front.
But then, it happened. The Oilers top line of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Kassian went to work. A shift that resembled a power play more than most Oilers power plays have, the trio kept Columbus pinned in their own zone for 90 whole seconds. During that 90 seconds they managed to direct a few pucks toward goal, too. One of them via Oscar Klefbom at the point, which happened to catch Zack Kassian in the ankle in front. He dropped before eventually getting to the bench, all the while his teammates continued to turn the vice on their hosts. Josh Currie - arguably the best story going in hockey right now - hopped over the boards to replace him and almost immediately navigated to the right place at the right time to finish off a tic-tac-toe with McDavid and Draisaitl. Lovely. His second goal and fourth point in 7 career GP. What a story.
A few minutes later and the visitors had struck again. This time via Draisaitl after playing pitch and catch with McDavid to Bobrovsky’s left, Draisaitl pounded a one-timer past him for his 40th (!!!) tally of the season. Speaking of good stories.
And a few minutes after that?! The Oilers struck again. This time through former answer and current question-mark Alex Chiasson, who was at the edge of Bobrovky’s crease when McDavid found him from behind the net. One touch later and it was 4-0 Edmonton. What a period!!
Columbus had a few periods of pressure themselves - mostly when McDavid’s line was off - but nothing really of note that asked any serious questons of Koskinen. The Jackets did gain the edge territorially in the second period but that’s typical of the team getting their show run. The Oilers were full-value for their lead in the second period and McDavid and his line were unplayable. Thankfully, Kassian didn’t miss a shift (“What are words you never thought you’d think or say, Alex?”) as the Blue Jackets simply have no answer for that group on this day.
Shots after two were 21-19 CBJ, but the Oilers held a 4-0 at the second intermission.
I’ll be honest, by this point I stopped taking any form of notes. The first half of the third period felt like it flew by as the Oilers were simply charged with seeing this one out without incident after rampaging to a 4-0 lead in the second. And, surely surprising to some, they managed to do just that. Koskinen made the saves he needed to and the Oilers held the “surging” Jackets to 9 shots in the final frame.
A professional enough third period such that I didn’t even have to finish watching it. I did some dishes and made my bed. A good Saturday so far, if you ask me.
Shots at the final whistle were 30-24 CBJ.
Only 15 more of those and they might get in the playoffs.
CF%: 34-53 39.08%
FF%: 28-37 43.08%
SCF%: 10-10 50%
HDCF%: 5-4 55.55%
(Numbers courtesy Natural Stat Trick)
The Oilers get the Sabres (30-26-8) on Monday to wrap up this little Eastern swing. Then they’ll be back home to take on Vancouver (27-29-9) Thursday.