The Edmonton Oilers (3-3-0), fresh off a phenomenal comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, were in St. Louis to take on the Blues (3-1-0) on Wednesday night for their first road game of the 2022-23 season. Edmonton’s own Stuart Skinner (0-1-0, 0.944) made his second start of the young season, with Jordan Binnington (3-0-0, 0.940) his opposite in the St. Louis net.
The first few minutes didn’t yield much either way, but even the most objective observer would suggest the Oilers got the better of the first few shifts. Eventually, Jesse Puljujarvi — currently about nipple-deep in the struggle to start the year — got the game’s first shot just under 3 minutes in.
Shortly after that, he got the game’s first goal. He started it with a lovely cross-ice, blue-to-blue pass to Warren Foegele to key the transition. Foegele entered with control, wheeled behind the net, and threw a puck out front. It made its way back to Darnell Nurse at the point. He stepped into it, and his shot was redirected beyond Binnington by Puljujarvi. The broadcast gave it to Nurse initially, but I knew. 1-0. LFG.
Not long after the goal, Ryan Murray took a penalty for tripping in the defensive zone. Fortunately, the penalty kill was resilient and the Oilers got through it unscathed. Skinner made the saves he needed to, but the PK did a good job, too.
Following the successful kill, Edmonton earned their first PP through a Noel Acciari hook. The first unit started the PP and never left the ice — they never left the zone in fact — as they were flinging it around with relative ease. Edmonton came close on a few occasions, and despite only registering two official SOGs, could have had one on a couple of different close calls. They got one fortunate bounce off a stanchion to help them keep possession, but otherwise didn’t give the Blues a sniff at it.
After that, the Blues found a bit of momentum through the fourth line v fourth line matchup, and had some impetus for a couple of shifts. But they couldn’t find their way back into the game before the intermission. 1-0 (12-6 SOGs) after 20 solid minutes from the Oilers.
The Blues enjoyed the better start to the second period as Edmonton was a bit sluggish after the intermission. I assume somebody forgot the orange slices. Fortunately, Edmonton was more bend than break and managed to stabilize, generating a couple of pretty good looks of their own.
One Connor McDavid shift, especially, seemed to turn the tide back in Edmonton’s favour, but they couldn’t get an insurance marker. They were all around it, but pucks just aren’t going in for The Captain right now.
Edmonton drew their second penalty of the game during this spell — a Justin Faulk trip on Leon Draisaitl — but their second PP was much less impressive than the first, and you start to understand why St. Louis is still perfect on the PK through 4.66 hockey games to start the year.
St. Louis seemed to gain some energy and momentum after the successful PK and started to put the proverbial boots to Edmonton. Stuart Skinner was keeping the Oilers afloat, but the ship was definitely listing. Eventually, the Blues drew their second PP of the contest.
And they made it count. With 4.4 seconds left in the period, Ryan O’Reilly batted home his first of the year, out of midair during a scramble in front of Skinner. 4.4 seconds. 1-1.
4.4 seconds from going into the second intermission up a goal, with a clean sheet in tow. Instead, it’s all square with the Oilers on their heels heading into the break. Tough. Shots 26-17 STL after 40.
A pretty even affair with both sides generating good looks and both goalies playing well. St. Louis was running up the official SOGs but Edmonton’s looks that didn’t draw a save were high-value.
For most of the period, anyway.
Then Kailer Yamamoto got away with a trademark Louie DeBrusk can opener. And on the next shift, Connor McDavid got himself back on the scoresheet. This time, by collecting the pinned puck from behind Binnington, wheeling around to the far side and whipping a pass into trouble where our favorite adolescent assassin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, was there to cash in. 2-1. LFG.
From there, Skinner took over. Natural Stat Trick only has STL with 1 high danger look in the third period, but it felt like more, and Skinner answered every question he was asked in the frame. And, eventually, he was rewarded.
Leon Draisaitl, after what felt like an extremely long shift, turned the Blues over in the defensive zone and sprung a streaking Zach Hyman for an empty net breakaway. 3-1. LFG.
Still fire the execs. Still fire those guys. But let’s give Stuart Skinner a bit of love here. He carried a 0.944 into tonight’s contest and it got better after he turned away 37/38 against St. Louis. Kudos to the local lad.
What that means for Ken Holland’s decision to give a ton of money to a goaltender who was among the league’s worst in the second-half of last season remains to be seen.
A quick turnaround for the victors as they head on over to Chicago for a SEGABABA against the Hawks. Puck drops a shade after 6:30PM MST. LFG.