The aggressively disappointing Edmonton Oilers (17-14-1, 4th Pacific), fresh off an inexcusable loss against the lowly Anaheim Ducks, were in Nashville — yes, again — to take on the similarly lowly and equally disappointing Nashville Predators (12-13-4, 6th Central). The Preds have lost 6 on the bounce themselves, so Monday night’s matchup had all the makings of a game you’d happily make other plans during. As the poor, unfortunate soul tagged with recapping this game: lucky me.
The hosts went ahead within the first few minutes through Mattias Ekholm, who was in the right place at the right time to clean up a juicy rebound kicked out by Jack Campbell. Leon Draisaitl was apparently on the ice but you’d need a wide angle lens from well up high to capture an image with both he and his check in it.
mattias ekholm gives the nashville predators an early 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/77IH19G1Ir— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
A couple of shifts later, the Oilers found a bit of life thanks to Warren Foegele drawing the game’s first penalty on Cole Smith. I don’t know who that is either. Apparently they traded him for Ethan Bear. I’m kidding.
The power play came and went but, as the second unit was still on the ice with the penalty expiring, our very own bison royalty found his way back to the throne:
with his dad in the stands, jesse puljujarvi has his first goal in 26 games. monkey off the back. 1-1. pic.twitter.com/fS526Q71ri— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
Frankly I was so happy for JP, the rest of the period was a blur. Things happened. Everybody laughed. Everybody cried. Everybody kung fu fought. What a wonderful world. Score remained 1-1 after 20 minutes with Nashville carrying a 14-10 edge on the shot clock into the break.
It took Nashville just over 3 minutes to restore their lead. Immediately off of a draw to Campbell’s right, Jordan Gross threw a puck toward net. Well, 3 feet wide to be precise, but it ricocheted off of Tyson Barrie’s left hip and past a bewildered Campbell.
a jordan gross point shot pinballs through a crowd and in. 2-1 preds. pic.twitter.com/JBWCc35HtU— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
On the very next shift, Ekholm broke in on a 2v1 and tested Campbell, and then, for some inexplicable reason outside of sports betting and its obvious repercussions to players in too deep, Filip Forsberg took a goaltender interference penalty. Then Connor McDavid did what he does, and set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in tight to tie the game:
what a feed from connor mcdavid, who finds ryan nugent-hopkins for his 16th of the year. 2-2. pic.twitter.com/bmuXXBnaZP— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
On the next shift, Cody Ceci took the Oilers’ first penalty of the game after high sticking Mikael Granlund. The Oilers killed it off without incident, and then began to find their footing at 5v5 for really the first time all game. They kind of dominated the next few minutes, but unfortunately took another penalty through Klim Kostin’s slash on Matt Duchene. This time the Preds PP was able to break through thanks to Duchene himself.
matt duchene scores on the powerplay to give the predators a 3-2 lead. pic.twitter.com/CrpJHOWXxp— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
Edmonton had the better of the remainder of the period, but as it was the other night against the Ducks, it was a case of too little too late. Fortunately, and unlike the other night against the Ducks, there was time left to turn it around. Fingies crossed.
2-3 after 40 minutes, with both times tied at 23 SOGs each.
The Oilers found themselves back on the power play less than 2 minutes into the period thanks to Ryan Johansen high sticking Warren Foegele. Enter Ryan Nugent-Hopkins:
that's two on the night for ryan nugent-hopkins. what a shot to tie it up at 3. pic.twitter.com/NUrQKwWaQe— zach (@zjlaing) December 20, 2022
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy an Oilers goal as much as the next fan, but it sure would be exciting and different to see a couple at 5v5 in the same game, wouldn’t it? Or even a few? Imagine?
Anyway, Nashville carried the play for the next couple of shifts, but Jack Campbell made arguably his best two saves as an Oiler to keep the game level. One with his glove and the other with his left leg. Important. Crucial, even. As crucial as it can get for a basically 0.500 team playing in Nashville on a Monday night, anyway.
The rest of the period played out with the two teams trading half chances and and almosts, but neither side was able to find the GWG and I’d wager that, by game’s end, Edmonton was the happier team to hear the buzzer and secure the point.
Game aside, which was as underwhelming as has been the entire season, why in the Copper and Blue fuck does Bob Nicholson still have a job here? Why are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl still playing together? The team is already down Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod, two important pieces in terms of their F depth — Janmark is playing in the top six after all — and the solution is to further shrink their depth?! It makes absolutely zero sense to me.
What happened to the Jay Woodcroft of Spring 2022?!
Dallas. In Dallas. Wednesday at 7:30PM MST.