The Edmonton Oilers (7-7-0) were back on the ice in Ottawa tonight to take on the still struggling Senators (2-10-1), looking to move above 0.500 for the first time this season. Mikko Koskinen made his return to the Edmonton crease hoping to rediscover his best form following a couple of tough performances while Marcus Högberg got the nod for Ottawa.
The Senators opened the scoring less than 30 seconds in. Ottawa worked the puck around the end wall and back to Nikita Zaitsev at the right point as Connor Brown drifted into a soft spot in Edmonton’s coverage between the hash marks. Zaitsev fired a soft wrister toward Brown and he redirected it past a still-adjusting Koskinen. 0-1.
Not an ideal start, but it didn’t take long for Edmonton to respond. Just before the five minute mark, Tyson Barrie collected the puck from Koskinen behind the Oilers net. He found Khaira to start the breakout, and Khaira wasted no time getting it to Josh Archibald along the near wall. Archibald gained the zone before dropping it to Darnell Nurse for a shot that Marcus Högberg will surely embellish when he tells his grandkids about it later in life. In reality though, Nurse fired a tame slap shot along the ice that somehow went underneath him. No tip. No traffic. Sometimes you’re the windshield, etc. 1-1.
Ottawa responded by taking over for a few shifts in a row. They couldn’t beat Koskinen though, and Edmonton made them pay later in the period. With less than three minutes remaining in the first, Jujhar Khaira won a faceoff to Hogberg’s left. Tyler Ennis picked up the loose puck and worked it back to Evan Bouchard at the right point. Bouchard took a small stride to his right before flinging a sneaky wrist shot through traffic and beyond an almost completely unaware Hogberg. 2-1.
No damage either way for the last couple of minutes and the Oilers took their 2-1 lead into the intermission. If it weren’t for Hogberg they might not be so fortunate, but that’s mostly Ottawa’s problem.
Ottawa came out of the intermission pressing, throwing a handful of pucks toward Edmonton’s net before the Oilers could steady themselves and push back. Once they did, they found some insurance.
Devin Shore worked the puck toward a waiting Alex Chiasson on the far wall, just outside of Ottawa’s blue line. Chiasson gained the zone before sending a lovely little backhand pass toward Tyson Barrie. Barrie corralled it, took a step forward, and beat an absolutely clueless Hogberg to the right. By the time the puck crossed the line, Hogberg was feet away from the middle of the net. He wasn’t even close to it. 3-1. That was it for Hogberg, replaced by yesterday’s starter Matt Murray after conceding another goal that he simply shouldn’t at the NHL level.
A couple of minutes later, Ottawa had a great opportunity to get back into the game via a Josh Archibald double minor for high sticking — and cutting — Thomas Chabot. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira ate the first 45 seconds with ease as Edmonton had little trouble killing the first two minutes. Ottawa established themselves better during the next two, but Koskinen was able to answer any questions they asked and Edmonton killed it off.
Ottawa found some momentum from the power play and took over the rest of the period, but Mikko Koskinen had long since settled in after letting in the first shot he saw, and the Oilers took their two-goal lead into the break.
The Senators picked up where they left off in the second and continued to push to start the third. They were rewarded less than two minutes in, when Mike Reilly’s three line pass found Evgenii Dadonov in behind a forgetful Slater Koekkoek. Dadonov made no mistake on the break and pulled the home side within one. 3-2.
Edmonton couldn’t really muster any kind of sustained response to an increasingly desperate Ottawa push, and the Senators continued to control the game. At one point in the period the hosts threw 12 straight attempts at Edmonton’s net. But they couldn’t find the equalizer. Mikko Koskinen was stout the rest of the way and the Oilers were able to hang on despite being soundly outplayed for the remainder.
3-2 final from Ottawa. 4-0-0 against the Senators. 8-7-0 on the season. Onward.
The Oilers weren’t very good tonight. They probably lose this game if Murray starts, such was the quality of the goals they scored tonight. But that didn’t happen. Instead, they capitalized on a goalie having a nightmare, got a lead and held it through two intermissions and won in regulation, got two crucial points, and are now 5-1-0 in their last six games with their only setback in that span coming at the hands of those wretched Calgary Flames.
I get that some people don’t want to hear anything negative after a win and that’s totally fair. I just think its prudent to remember that these Senators really are the worst team in the league and that regardless of whatever legitimate reasons there are to explain an effort like that tonight, those Senators kind of ran Edmonton’s show for a good fifty minutes.
Love the result, don’t get me wrong. Just can’t expect efforts like that to get too many points against the non-Ottawa teams in the division. Well, maybe Vancouver.
Also, where the hell is Caleb Jones?! This is getting outrageous.
Game 15: Ugly win. Koskinen bounced back in a huge way tonight, but we were not the better team. Positives were we got some depth scoring.— Sid (@KoskiWin) February 10, 2021
2nd line was really bad tonight (not even a single shot attempt). I think it's time to go back to the DRY line. Also, play Jones. #Oilers pic.twitter.com/Xsj1U6YSqm
That’s how many games the Oilers have remaining against Ottawa this season. They’d do well to win all of them. It bodes well that they can play like they did tonight and find a way to do that. It bodes less well that they played like they did tonight.
Edmonton gets an opportunity to redeem themselves against a Montreal outfit that beat them pretty badly over their first two games. Puck drop at 5 PM MST.