Yooooooouuuuuuuuuur Edmonton Oilers (6-7-0) were in Ottawa to take on the genuinely not good Senators (2-9-1) for the first of two games in two nights. Edmonton was coming off a tough loss at the hands of their provincial rivals last time out, while Ottawa was looking for a quick rebound after losing to Montreal on the weekend.
The Oilers jumped out to a nice start courtesy the top line, with Connor McDavid finding some daylight in the high slot to unleash one at Matt Murray less than a minute in. That was, unfortunately, about as close as they would come all period.
Ottawa showed a bit of fight after that chance and began to throw some pucks toward Mike Smith, who was seeing his first game action since
the bubble March. A couple of awkward ones from distance found there way to the crease but Smith was able to fight them all off, even though at times he looked about as awkward.
Edmonton showed a bit of push themselves during the middle third of the first period and were even able to draw the game’s first penalty thanks to Jesse Puljujarvi. Unfortunately, they couldn’t solve Murray, who looked pretty sharp early.
For the last third or so, Ottawa — if you can believe it — kind of took over. Edmonton might have had something else to say but a late Oilers PP was negated six seconds later when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was called for playing with a broken stick. As such, Ottawa finished the frame on a 9-1 run in terms of shot attempts, but they couldn’t solve Mike Smith, either.
No score after one, which was about what both teams deserved to that point.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the two fights in less than two minutes to start this one. If you’ll remember, there was a bit of bad blood at the end of regulation the last time these two teams met, and I guess that’s what precipitated these two scraps. First, Jujhar Khaira and Austin Watson. Next, Zack Kassian and Erik Gudbranson. Both men were likely literally fighting for their ice time — perhaps especially Kassian after being publicly challenged in the media by head coach Dave Tippett recently. Unfortunately for him, he was injured in the tilt and didn’t play another shift.
This one was a little more like it. The Oilers offered one of their most complete periods of the season and totally and thoroughly outclassed Ottawa from start to finish. Don’t let the fact that Ottawa got a goal fool you, Edmonton scored every goal in this game — including Ottawa’s in period two.
After an opening spell in which Edmonton had eight straight shot attempts, Ottawa found one against the run of play. Just past the five-minute mark, Connor McDavid saw his centering pass picked off inside the Ottawa blue line by Brady Tkachuk. Tkachuk sent Evgenii Dadonov away with a lovely weighted lob that caught William Lagesson and Adam Larsson out. As Larsson tried to make a play, he inadvertently ripped the puck into the top left corner past a justifiably confused Mike Smith. 0-1.
That didn’t deter the Oilers, who went back to work right away and drew another penalty through Tyson Barrie. Unfortunately, the power play wasn’t operating at its most ruthless tonight, and the chance to equalize went begging.
This theme continued through the Oilers next power play — earned this time through Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drawing a hook on Tim Stützle — as again the Oilers couldn’t find the tying goal with the man advantage.
Fortunately, they kept pressing. And it wasn’t long before they made all that pressure count. A lovely shift by the Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto and Dominik Kahun line culminated with a loose puck sneaking loose to a waiting — and wide open — Leon Draisaitl. The Great Doctor made no mistake and willed one through Matt Murray to tie it up and extend his point streak to ten games. 1-1.
Edmonton continued their dominance all the way through the period until a late Adam Larsson penalty (for batting a puck out of play with his hand) threatened to undo all their good work. Fortunately, Mike Smith and the Oilers PK were up to the task for the rest of the frame, but they’d have to start the third at 4v5.
All square after two periods, but by the end of two Edmonton deserved better than that.
Edmonton killed the remainder with relatively little trouble but Ottawa began to press for a couple of shifts after generating a bit of momentum from the power play.
Fortunately, the Oilers got their shit together from there and effectively took over for the last fifteen minutes. Perhaps more fortunately, they were rewarded for their efforts.
Tyler Ennis, who has inexplicably found himself among the healthy scratches quite a bit this season, dealt a dagger to (one of) his former club(s). After a bit of patience at the Oilers blue line, Leon Draisaitl sent a puck toward William Lagesson near the left wall. Lagesson made a nice play to keep the puck moving forward and Ennis took over from there. After gathering near the Senators blue line, Ennis drove toward goal from the left wing and flung one through Murray to put the Oilers ahead. 2-1.
The Oilers continued to push for insurance but weren’t able to find it until the Senators pulled their goalie with around two minutes to play.
With just over a minute left, Connor McDavid turned up ice with the rock and found an uncovered Josh Archibald to the right of center ice. Archibald made no mistake and passed it in from outside the blue line to put the game to bed for good. 3-1.
Hey, look, they got the win, but I’m about done with seeing Kris Russell take shifts away from Caleb Jones. It was indefensible last year, and it remains so this year. I understand, to a point, their thinking: play the ‘dependable’ veteran with the rookie. Give him some help. Sure, that’s a great idea in theory. In practice it’s more like covering a baby seal in seal blood and flinging it into a shark tank. And not the kind where the worst thing it’ll face is Kevin O’Leary, either.
Kudos to Mike Smith for looking pretty capable in there. Koskinen’s let in at least three goals most nights so far, so it was a welcome change to see the Oilers pitch a shutout outside of the goal they scored on themselves.
Evan Bouchard managed to stay above water despite being tethered to Cowboy Concrete Shoes for the second game running. Give him a partner like Caleb Jones and look the heck out, folks.
That’s Jesse Puljujarvi’s NHL rank in shooting talent adjusted expected goals, per MoneyPuck.com. Puljujarvi trails only Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Jake Guentzel, Mikko Rantanen, and...Connor Garland through 14 GP this season.
Tomorrow. Same time. Same place. Same teams. Edmonton’s got an opportunity to move above true 0.500 tomorrow night.