This felt like a HUGE win!
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night. Leon Draisaitl captured points 100 and 101 with two goals on the night while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up the game-winner. If clutch saves were recorded as points, then Mike Smith would have a few as well.
You missed out on a great one if you weren’t able to catch this one. Luckily I got everything you missed right here...
I was a little late to the start of the game on the account that I got stuck in an elevator directly before the game started. A first for me, but kudos to the Edmonton Fire Department for getting me home in time to catch most of the 1st period.
As I turned on my TV the Oilers were on the power-play and, as they’ve done all season long, it got the team on the board. Connor McDavid found a wide open Leon Draisaitl beside the net and he beat Connor Hellebuyck. Draisaitl records his point #100 in only his 65th game of the season. The only player to reach the 100pt faster in the past 20 years in Nikita Kucherov, who did it in 62 games last season. Quite an accomplishment.
Apart from this great moment, nothing else beat either goaltender in the opening period. It was a solid period of hockey that had a playoff-esque atmosphere.
The Winnipeg Jets came out with plenty of energy in the middle frame. Yet, it was Jujhar Khaira with the two best chances to start the period. He would miss a rebound right in front of the net and then, on his very next shift, ring a shot from the slot off the crossbar. Snake bitten is an understatement when it comes to Khaira right now.
This would prove costly to the Oilers as the Jets came back later in the period with some goals of there own. The first of which came off the stick of Logan Shaw who beat Smith blocker side to knot things at one goal apiece. Then, less than a minute later, Kyle Connor unleashed a no-doubt one-timer past into the Edmonton net to give Winnipeg their first lead of the game. 2-1 Winnipeg.
It looked like the period would end this way until the Oilers got a late chance on the power play. Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid would have a fantastic chances be stopped by Hellebuyck, but it would eventually be Draisaitl who tipped home an amazing pass from McDavid to tie things up again with 12 seconds to go. 2-2 game.
It wasn't the best period for the Oil but it was good enough to keep the game tied going into the third period.
This was as close to playoff hockey that the Oilers have played in since 2017. It was the kind of period where you were lucky to even get a shot on goal. Both teams pushed to find the go-ahead goal but it was extremely tight and the play was almost exclusive to the boards.
The Jets would get the first real grade-A chance on a sequence that saw Blake Wheeler block a shot that led to a breakaway for Mark Schiefele, who would be stopped by Mike Smith.
This would be a huge save as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would snipe home his 19th of the year shortly after to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead late in the game. 3-2 Oilers with less than 6 minutes on the board.
From here on out it would be the Mike Smith show. The Jets would get a power-play on the shift after the goal in which they push hard but not hard enough to beat Smith. Paul Maurice would then pull the goalie with just under 3 minutes left in an aggressive bid to things up. This led to an incredible amount of pressure being put on Smith, which he handled brilliantly.
The Edmonton Oilers bend, but don’t break, as they hold onto the 3-2 lead!
- Don’t be mistaken, Leon Draisaitl is the favourite to win the Hart Trophy this season. The Deautchland Dangler is the first player to hit the 100 point mark this season and is more than 10pts ahead of second place (David Pastrnak, 91). He is the heartbeat of the team right now which says a lot considering Connor McDavid is also on this team. Absolutely incredible player.
- Mike Smith stole this game tonight. He was able to lock things down after two quick goals by the Jets in the second period and he was key in stopping Winnipeg’s third period push. I came into this season as a serious skeptic of Smiths but he’s won me over. This guy is the starter.
- Tyler Ennis should be a mainstay on McDavid’s line. I don’t think I’ve seen a player of his size hold onto the puck in such difficult circumstances. He’s a player that finds a way and he can make some amazing plays when he’s given room.
- Its nice to see Nugent-Hopkins get the game-winner in this one. He has flown under the radar the last few months as his line mates get most of the attention, but he is just as critical to the success of that line. He might hit 70pts on the season and that is HUGE.
- The monkey on the back of Jujhar Khaira’s back grew a bit bigger tonight. Had a few grade-A chances in the second and just couldn’t find the back of the net. He played better than Wednesday’s matchup in Vegas but not enough to make me think he’s a better option than Tyler Benson.
- The Edmonton Oilers did themselves a big favour tonight as they move into sole possession of 2nd place in the Pacific Division with 76pts. The Vancouver Canucks sits behind them with 74pts while the Calgary Flames are in 4th with 73pts. Looking up the standings, the Vegas Golden Knights sit atop the division with 80pts. The Oilers will look to close the gap between them and the Knights as they hit the road to Nashville to take on the Predators on Monday.