The Edmonton Oilers continued their hot start to the season with a dominant 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night. Leon Draisaitl tallied two more goals and three points to lead the Oilers while Kailer Yamamoto, Devin Shore, and Jesse Puljujarvi also got on the board.
Mikko Koskinen improved his record to 6-1-0 on the season and the Oilers tie a franchise record for best start to a season as they now sit at 8-1-0 in their first nine games.
How did we get to that final result? I’m glad you asked, let’s take a look...
Nashville came out with an extra jump in their step. An unwise pinch by Cody Ceci allowed Matt Duchene to get the first chance of the game on a 2-on-1 rush. Luckily Mikko Koskinen was up to the task and bailed out his defender.
That early Nashville pressure would be negated about five minutes in as Mikhail Granludn tripped up Leon Draisaitl to give Edmonton their first power-play of the game. Ingram stood tall in the Predator net, jumping all over nice passing play off the stick of Zach Hyman. Yet, it wouldn’t be enough to stop the Oilers as Draisaitl sent a one-timer over Ingram’s shoulder to give Edmonton the 1-0 lead.
The Predators didn’t allow Edmonton to enjoy that lead. Less than a minute later, Duchene got his second 2-on-1 rush of the game and didn’t miss this time around. He beat Koskinen to knot things back up at 1-1.
Hyman nearly broke the tie off a slick feed by McDavid but Ingram made a spectacular glove save to deny him.
The intensity would get cranked up a bit with a few big hits by Draisaitl and Zack Kassian but, other than that, neither team would be able to generate much more. The shot clock read 10-8 in favour of the Oilers but the score would remain 1-1 heading into the second.
Dave Tippett turned to the line blender to start off the middle frame. McDavid and Draisaitl were reunited with Puljujarvi staying as that line’s right-wings. Meanwhile, Hyman joined Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto on the second line.
The change paid off fairly quickly as some zone pressure by that second line led to a shot deflecting off of Hyman in front of the Nashville net right onto Yamamoto’s stick who potted his second in as many games. Oilers take the 2-1 lead in the early stages of the second.
Nashville, just like they did in response to Edmonton’s first goal, went right to work looking for the equalizer. They had a few point-blank chances on Koskinen and added a post to their resume, but were unable to capitalize in the ensuing minutes.
Edmonton also killed off a Darnell Nurse penalty for good measure. Devin Shore, promoted to the third-line for the period, added to the penalty total as he got caught with a trip at the midway point of the period. The Oilers PK unit, however, was stellar as they killed it off without much trouble.
The penalties evened out as the period progressed as McDavid was able to draw an interference call on Colton Scissons (yes, you read that right, McDavid actually drew a penalty). Draisaitl had a few fantastic looks on net during the chance but was unable to find the target as the Preds killed it off.
The period ended with just one goal as the Oilers looked to hang on to the 2-1 lead in the final 20 minutes.
Both teams traded some chances to start off the third, but it was Leon Draisaitl who added his second of the game as he takes a feed between the hash-marks and cleanly beats Ingram. The Oilers extended their lead to 3-1 with 16 minutes left on the clock.
Shore joined in on the fun a few shifts later as Foegele battled to find him at the top of the circle for a one-timer that fooled Ingram. All of a sudden, the Oilers now lead 4-1 after coming into the period with a slim 2-1 margin.
The Oilers were just inches away from making it 5-1 on a shorthanded chance by Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman. RNH feathered a beautiful pass to Hyman but Ingram came over with an explosive stride to deny him. The Oilers gave Nashville a brief 5-on-3 advantage shortly after but were able to keep them off the board.
They wouldn't be able to kill the second penalty off, however, as Ryan Johanson got a one-timer off a draw that beat Koskinen five-hole to make it a 4-2 game. There wasn’t a lot of time on the board but enough to make things interesting.
That interesting development wouldn’t remain interesting for long. The Predators pulled Ingram with three minutes left and the Oilers almost immediately scored. Draisaitl had a chance at the hat-trick but opted to give it over to Puljujarvi who finally got one on the board.
That would do it as the Oilers improved to 8-1-0 on the season with a 5-2 win.
- The offense eventually picked up for the Oilers as the game progressed but I thought our defense struggled for large moments in this game. Of course, it’s hard to give them too much negativity when the score reads 5-2 in your favour. I think it’s something that the team needs to work on if they plan on being competitive against the top teams in the league.
- Leon Draisaitl is continuing to show the league that he is among the greatest scorers in the game right now. He notched two more goals to make it nine on the season, tied with Ovechkin for the top of the league. He added an assist on Puljujarvi’s empty netter to give him 20 points to lead the league. Two assists from McDavid helped him keep pace, as he sits one behind Draisaitl at 19.
- Did anyone else have Mikko Koskinen at 6-1-0 to start the season? He was excellent once again in the Edmonton net. He turned aside 29 of the 31 he faced tonight. I am starting to worry about overworking the big Finn as he is getting awfully close to that 13 straight start mark that supposedly wore him out at the beginning of next season. A bit odd we haven’t seen Skinner in at all.
- Writing about the Oilers' special teams feels like groundhog day. They were excellent with the man-advantage going 1/2 and were impressive on the penalty-kill as well going
- So happy to see Kailer Yamamoto get rewarded for his efforts with another goal tonight. He has started to look like his usual self over the past few games. Hopefully, he can keep it going.
- As good as 97 and 29 played tonight I still don’t think they are optimal on the same line. They seemed to slow down a bit. I’d like to see them get a bit more creative with their options. I’m curious to see if a top-six of RNH-McDavid-Puljujarvi and Hyman-Draisaitl-Yamamoto could look down the line.
- I will always comment on a Puljujarvi goal even if it was an empty-netter. He’s been snake-bitten over the past several games so maybe this helps him get off the schnide.
- The Oilers improve to 8-1-0 on the season and sit all alone at the top of the Pacific Division! This ties the best start to a season in franchise history and they will try to make a new record as they welcome the New York Rangers to Rogers Place on Friday night!