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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Oilers look for win number 16 as the Penguins visit Rogers Place

Pittsburgh Penguins v Calgary Flames
Anybody hear of this Crosby guy?
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (15-5-0), 2nd, Pacific

Pittsburgh Penguins (10-7-5), 4th, Metro

01 December 2021

Rogers Place

8 PM MT

TV: Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet 1

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Pensburgh

HANGING ON

Mikko Koskinen put up 36 saves, while the Oilers picked up goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujärvi on the way to a 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights this past Saturday. The Oilers leaned heavily on Koskinen, who might have played his best game of the season. The Oilers finished their road trip at 2-1, and they did it without the better part of a regular defence corps, who were down Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith and Slater Koekkoek due to injury.

The Oilers are back home and will host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. At 15-5, they trail the Calgary Flames in the standings by one point. The Oilers will be down another defenceman tonight as Cody Ceci has entered Covid protocol. Can the Oilers keep the wins coming tonight?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“Every game is different...All that matters is we got the win and the two points.”

Source

That’s Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen after his club’s 3-2 win over the Golden Knights on Saturday

Koskinen picked up his 11th win on the year, and it was a memorable effort in a game that was tilted towards the Oilers’ end of the ice for large portions of time.

THE PENGUINS ARE SAYING

“We didn’t like our game tonight...I think Tristan played an unbelievable game. Kept us in the game all game. We know we have to be better. Just to get a point, I think it’s a big point for us with a chance in the shootout. Just to come out of it with that, we’ll take it.”

Source

That’s Penguins forward Jake Guentzel after his club’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Guentzel had a goal in his club’s loss to the Flames, extending his ten game point streak. The Penguins have already been to five shootouts, winning just one.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • With Cody Ceci in Covid protocol, the Oilers D-corps take another hit. Now without four starters, we are likely to see Markus Niemeläinen make his NHL debut. Niemeläinen’s debut will likely push Philip Broberg and William Lagesson’s numbers up a bit tonight. Could push Kris Russell to the right side as well.
  • There’s a fair bit of (deserved) consternation about putting Zack Kassian on the top line while putting Jesse Puljujärvi on the third. I don’t think anyone who’s watched the games this year would argue that Puljujärvi isn’t an instant upgrade over Kassian on the third line, the issue comes when Kassian pulls 18 minutes a night and Puljujärvi is hovering in the 14 minute area. Puljujärvi had some power play time last game (he scored a goal at even strength too), and the third line looked as good as it has all year.
  • The Penguins’ record is middling, and a significant part of that is that they haven’t gotten any goal support. Ranking just 20th in the league averaging 2.82 goals per game, they’ve certainly felt the loss of Evgeni Malkin and to a lesser extent, Sidney Crosby. Crosby returned to the lineup late in October, while Malkin is yet to make his season debut rehabbing from right knee surgery
  • Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held without a point in Saturday’s win over the Golden Knights. Leon leads the league with 20 goals in 20 games. He’s also the point leader with 40, which, in 20 games...is still off the charts.
  • The Oilers’ power play has cooled off a bit from when it was 50% on the season. Standing at 37.7% it’s still good enough to lead the league. Edmonton is the only club in the league with a power play success rate of 30% or greater. Pittsburgh’s has struggled, ranking 25th in the league.
  • Former Oil King Tristan Jarry stopped 31 of 32 shots in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Flames on Monday night, and I’d expect him to get the nod again tonight. Jarry has had a red-hot start to his season (10-4-4, .938 SV% / 1.85 GAA / 3 SO). I’d expect Mikko Koskinen (11-2-0, .912 SV% / 2.89 GAA) to get the start tonight for the Oilers after his big win against Vegas on Saturday night.