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Oilers Stave Off Coyotes in 5-3 Victory

Edmonton withstands a poor start and a late Arizona comeback effort to win their 14th of the year

The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes by a 5-3 score on Wednesday night. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a pair of goals while Zack Kassian potted one as well. Mikko Koskinen was solid in net, stopping 24 of 27 shots, improving to a stellar 10-2-0 on the season.

The score read 4-1 Oilers with less than 10 to go, but the Coyotes made sure it stayed interesting right down to the final buzzer. I got ALL the details on how Edmonton came out with a 14-5-0 record...

First Period:

Dave Tippett decided to bring out his infamous line-blender for this one. McDrai was reunited on the top line with Zack Kassian while Jesse Puljujarvi was demoted to the third line. Why? Who knows.

It started with some predictable results as the Oilers looked sloppy and disconnected against a depleted Arizona Coyotes squad. The Yotes struck first, as is usual with the Oilers recently, as Tyson Barrie pinched in on an offensive play and left Philip Broberg all alone to defend a 2-on-1. Broberg played the shooter which allowed Clayton Keller to get a breakaway, which he used to beat Mikko Koskinen. 1-0 Coyotes.

Phil Kessell nearly made that a 2-0 lead a few shifts later as the Oilers flailed around their zone. Koskinen, however, was looking sharp and kept Edmonton within striking distance.

The Oilers were able to get the game tied before the period was up. Connor McDavid got his 13th of the season on a rare greasy in-tight tap-in on the power-play. He was viciously slashed and cross-checked on the play which resulted in his neck getting jammed into the post. McDavid’s neck was in one piece so, naturally, there was no call on the dangerous play. The goal stood and we had a 1-1 game.

Edmonton had another chance on the PP late in the frame but was absolutely worked by an aggressive penalty kill by Arizona. That would drain the clock out and we would end it tied at one apiece.

Second Period:

This one started a bit better than the first. The top-line had a quick chance off the opening face-off but Scott Wedgewood swallowed it up.

The team started to pick up the pace in this one, spending more time in the Arizona end and getting more shots on the net. McDavid and Draisaitl in particular were getting plenty of chances on net, including a long-shot one-timer by #29 that nearly beat Wedgewood.

Draisaitl wouldn’t stay off the board for too long, however. A Cody Ceci point shot bounced off of Kassian in front of the net right onto the stick of Draisaitl who let loose a one-timer into the net. 19 goals in 19 games for Draisaitl as he continues his torrid season. 2-1 Oilers.

Zack Kassian came as close as you could to extending that lead. McDavid found him with a perfect pass on a 2-on-1 chance but Wedgewood pushed across to rob him with the glove to keep things within one.

A much better effort by the boys in orange and blue as they outshot the Coyotes by a 13-6 margin in the second and walk into the third period with a 2-1 lead.

Third Period:

Edmonton continued to lean on the Coyotes early in the period. They were getting puck in behind the defense and had a few chances on net. Nothing insane, but puck possession is puck possession in a one-goal game. Anytime not defending is time well spent for this group.

McDavid nearly got his second of the game on a speedy rush but was denied by the iron. Later on that same shift, Puljujarvi fed McLeod on an odd-man rush but he wasn’t able to pull the trigger.

Kassian made up for his second-period miss with a goal of his own. McDavid would find send a cross-ice pass to #44 who would just beat Wedgewood’s sprawling pad. 3-1 Oilers with about 10 minutes to play.

Draisaitl found twine on the PP once again after battling through two defenders and powering through the slot to send it blocker-side. An astounding 20 goals for the German through his first 19 games. 4-1 Oilers.

The Coyotes weren’t quite done yet. Travis Boyd tipped home a Jakob Chychrun shot on the ensuing shift that would go through Koskinen’s five-hole. 4-2 with just over six minutes left to go.

Shayne Gostisbehere then made things interesting as they pin the Oilers in their end and beats Koskinen over the glove. Lots of time left for the Coyotes to come back as it’s a 4-3 game with 5 minutes left.

From here it was a shooting gallery in the Edmonton end as the Coyotes sent everything they could toward Koskinen, who was sharp on a few nice chances.

McDavid would finally seal things with an empty-netter to make it 5-3. Or did they? Draisaitl appeared to be offside on the play and, upon review, it would be called a good goal.

The Coyotes made it a bit more stressful than it probably should have been but the Oilers eventually skate away with the 5-3 win!

Takeaways:

  • Oilers still struggling early in hockey games. This one was no different as the last-place Coyotes were absolutely beating on them in the first 10 minutes. It resulted in an early deficit that they needed a PP to get out of. They have to beat this habit and soon if they hope to keep pace in an, all of sudden, competitive division.
  • First 10 minutes were terrible and the last 10 were not much better. The Oilers took their foot off the gas with the 4-1 lead late in the game...giving them waaaaay too much life. Can’t let these types of teams to push you that hard.
  • McDavid and Draisaitl had goals for the Oilers but I thought the fourth line was the next most impressive group. Colton Sceviour in particular had a strong game, which marks a few in a row for the journeyman. It has been difficult to find some bright spots in Edmonton’s bottom six this year but Sceviour and Benson seem to be developing some chemistry. Better fits than Devin Shore, Brendan Perlini, or Kyle Turris.
  • Koskinen had an OK game. He was solid in the first 10 minutes when the team was allowing everything on net. He got unlucky on a tipped shot on the Boyd goal but came up big in the final few minutes to keep the Coyotes from tying it. He goes to 10-2-0 on the season.
  • Dave Tippett’s line blender continues to confound me. The top-six was perfectly fine heading into this one, yet he decided to drastically change it up. The answer is simple, play your optimal top-six and give guys like Sceviour and Benson more consistent chances. Less Turris as well, the guy has only been an anchor on the fourth line. Drastically overthinking things here, Tip.
  • As I was writing the above takeaway Kassian scored lol. He didn’t look awful there but I still don’t think he is most effectively utilized on that line. He finally looked decent on the third line and I think he’s just fine there. Puljujarvi is good for at least 3 or 4 grade-A chances a game in that spot.
  • I thought Broberg had a fairly decent game. He misplayed the Arizona goal by taking the shooter rather than the pass but otherwise, it was an alright outing. I have been impressed by his play WITH the puck. A smart player who doesn’t seem to panic...very Bouchardian.
  • Speaking of Evan Bouchard, we saw a little bit of his mean streak tonight. He got into a scrum with Kessel in the first which was fun to see. Maybe that’ll satisfy the grit and sandpaper crowd.
  • The rest of the defense was pretty forgettable. Lagesson was meh while Barrie was straight-up bad.
  • We may be seeing a historic season for Leon Draisaitl. The guy is on pace for over 82 goals and could very well hit the 50 in 50 mark. Incredible stuff.
  • Speaking of history, Connor McDavid also made some of it tonight as well. With an assist on Zack Kassian’s third-period marker, he became the fourth-fastest player in NHL history to reach 400 career assists. We truly are spoiled to witness players of this calibre on a daily basis.
  • The Oilers overcome both a slow start and a Coyotes comeback to win it by a 5-3 score! Their record improves to 14-5-0 on the season! They will try to make it a crisp 15 wins on the season against the Vegas Golden Knights this Saturday.