It wasn’t pretty but it was exactly what they needed.
The Edmonton Oilers picked up a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night. Leon Draisaitl netted the third-period game-winner while Kailer Yamamoto and Josh Archibald had the other Oiler goals. Auston Matthews was the lone Toronto scorer.
Mikko Koskinen was stellar between the pipes for Edmonton. He turned away 25 of the 26 shots that the Leafs sent his way and was big when they needed him. The win marks the second for the Oilers and helps them break a two-game losing streak. They will move to 4th in the Scotia North division with a 2-3-0 record.
Let’s take a look at how we got here...
Heading into the game it was critical that the Oilers tightened up their play in all three ends. They could not afford to play a run and gun game against a high-powered team like Toronto. And that's what Edmonton was able to do early on. They played a balanced game and were able to limit Toronto from getting an early jump.
This was able to pay off for the Oilers as they were able to get on the board first. Some hard grinding behind the net by Kailer Yamamoto sent the puck in front of the Toronto net. Jimmy Vesey tried to clear it but it bounced off Jake Muzzin’s skate and into the net. They never said it had to be pretty as Yamamoto’s second of the year gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead.
Toronto would pick up the pace as the period wore on. The Leafs would get an opportunity on the power-play late in the period but the Oilers were able to bend without breaking. It wasn’t a great period by the Oilers but they ended it ahead on the scoreboard. 1-0 EDM at the end of the first 20.
The middle frame started similarly to the first for the Oilers. They played Toronto tight to the puck and were rather successful at it. The real story of this period was the special teams. Edmonton had two opportunities to extend their lead on the powerplay in the period but failed to do so once again. One has to think that Alex Chiasson’s time on the top unit are numbered if they continue to whiff on chances.
On the other end, the Maple Leafs had their second PP chance late in the period and it looked really good. They held some extended zone-time in the Edmonton end but the penalty-killing unit once again showed well. Mikko Koskinen was also very impressive.
Not much happened in this period, which is a good sign for the Oilers. They looked a lot better defensively and had a solid road period. They held the Maple Leafs to the perimeter and preserved their 1-0 lead heading into the third.
The definitive period of the game finally saw the back-and-forth hockey that everyone was looking for. The Maple Leafs were the first team to get in on the final period fun as Auston Matthews won a battle in the corner and fired home the equalizer through Koskinen at a sharp angle. After pitching a shutout for 40 minutes, Koskinen was finally solved.
The tie wouldn’t last too long as the Oilers would FINALLY convert on a power-play after a broken play would find Leon Draisaitl who would wire one over Andersen to restore the Edmonton lead.
The remainder of the game would go right down to the wire as both teams traded chances. Zack Kassian hit the crossbar on a 2-on-1 feed from McDavid. Jason Spezza would have a golden opportunity to tie things up but would slide the puck wide.
Josh Archibald would finally seal the deal with an empty-netter with just over a minute to go. Against all odds the Oilers bucked their losing streak and took this one 3-1.
- This was Edmonton’s best all-around game of the season so far. They played a very tight defensive game and kept Toronto’s big guns to the perimeter. Gotta think that this was the doing of Dave Tippett clamping down after Monday’s loss to the Canadiens. Good to see after two losses.
- Mikko Koskinen was the undisputed player of the game for the Oilers tonight. He kept the team in it for most of the game and made a few ten-bell saves when they were up 1-0. Not to mention that he fended off a last-minute frenzy by the Leafs. It’s one of those games that instills confidence in your starting goalie.
- Up front I have to commend Kailer Yamamoto for his play. It seems like I talk about him after every game but that guy just doesn’t give up. His hard work in the offensive zone lead to the team’s first goal and he was on it all night long. The honeybadger is living up to his nickname this season.
- Tale of two special teams once again. While Leon Draisaitl FINALLY converted on one to get the game-winner but it still wasn’t an impressive showing for Edmonton’s power-play. They looked disjointed and had a hard time setting up on the three chances they had. The penalty kill, meanwhile, was great. They were able to limit Toronto from grade-A chances and were just generally solid.
- Overall, this was exactly the type of game that the Oilers needed tonight. They came in against a very good hockey team and played a very solid defensive game and pulled out the win. This adds extra significance to Friday’s game as another win could leapfrog them into the top of the division. Only time will tell....