The Edmonton Oilers (14-11-0) welcomed the Washington Capitals (10-12-4) to Rogers Place on Monday night for the second, and final, meeting between the two clubs this season. Edmonton, on the heels of a ridiculous win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, were hoping for some revenge after dropping a 5-4 decision to these same Capitals back in early November. Washington has been dealing with some high-profile injuries of late, and for their part, were just looking for a result after getting their show run by the middling Calgary Flames their last time out. Stuart Skinner (7-5-0, 0.914) was again in goal for the Oilers, with Charlie Lindgren (2-3-2, 0.890) in net for Washington.
The Oilers were second-best from the first second of this hockey game. Stuart Skinner was absolutely gigantic in the first few minutes to weather an early storm from the visitors and keep Edmonton in the game.
They rewarded him by taking the game’s first penalty when Darnell Nurse interfered with Nick Jensen. The Capitals PP absolutely peppered Skinner — to the tune of 10 attempts — but he stood tall and allowed the Oilers to find their way into the game.
But they didn’t, really. They were gifted a PP through a bit of a soft call on an Evgeny Kuznetsov foul, but couldn’t get anything going on their own man advantage. They were, however, able to stabilize a little bit at 5v5 after their PP and carried their improved play the rest of the way through the period. They weren’t able to knick a goal on the back of it, but they did start to string together a couple of good shifts toward the end of P1. That’s the bar now.
0-0 after 20 minutes. SOGs 24-11 against.
Edmonton carried forward their good play at the end of P1 into the beginning of P2, and were rewarded within a couple of shifts. Tyson Barrie’s shot from the right point missed wide and went around to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the corner. He worked the puck back to the left point for Brett Kulak, who took a few steps toward the middle before pounding a seeing eye shot through Lindgren to put the Oilers in front. 1-0. LFG.
a brett kulak blast from the point finds twine. 1-0 oilers. pic.twitter.com/YZ9FYtU6UU— zach (@zjlaing) December 6, 2022
Shortly after the goal, Washington drew their second penalty of the game via a Barrie trip on Anthony Mantha. Their second power play was a far less anxious affair than their first, but it allowed them to stem the tide a little bit and regain their balance at 5v5.
They started to get the better of Edmonton once again and eventually found the equalizer a few shifts later. Lars Eller was wide open in front of Skinner, and made no mistake with all that time and space. 1-1.
Washington continued to press after their goal but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal. Eventually, though, they’d draw their third penalty of the game thanks to an Evan Bouchard crosscheck.
But then Connor McDavid. The Oilers still have Connor McDavid.
connor mcdavid with the shorthanded tally. 2-1 oilers. pic.twitter.com/90k0dYJmxd— zach (@zjlaing) December 6, 2022
And the Oilers needed it, as they would eventually concede toward the tail end of the same power play. Stuart Skinner did his collegiate best, but he couldn’t stop a T.J. Oshie one-timer from between the hash marks. 2-2.
Washington got the best of the last couple shifts, as well, but couldn’t find a third.
2-2 after 40 minutes. SOGs 41-19 against.
A mostly even start to the third period with both teams generating half-decent looks and both teams’ goaltenders able to turn them aside with relative ease. Aliaksei Protas did squeeze through for an early breakaway when Barrie was caught deep and Kulak was caught having to skate, but Stuart Skinner — who was truly excellent in this game — foiled the breakaway attempt.
As the period went on, Washington’s 5v5 superiority continued and the Oilers couldn’t really establish anything resembling a sustained attack.
Eventually, the visitors’ 5v5 work paid off. Protas broke through for another breakaway — again with Kulak and Barrie out — and dropped a perfect pass into the path of Nick Dowd to wire past Skinner’s glove. 2-3.
The Oilers were about where they should have been, given the balance of play. It’s not a result to feel hard done by, but it was still disappointing.
Edmonton tried to mount a rally and were a bit better down the stretch, but they were still giving up breakaways and odd-mans against like they had too many in inventory. If it weren’t for a very sharp Skinner, this could have been an absolute laugher.
Nugent-Hopkins did go real close with a couple of minutes left but he couldn’t beat a lunging Charlie Lindgren’s left toe. That was about as close as they came. The last minute was a shambles with Leon Draisaitl responsible for like three egregious giveaways.
2-3 after 60 minutes. Final. SOGs were 50-30 against.
Someone with some real tactical nous has to explain to me what the hell has happened to Jay Woodcroft’s Edmonton Oilers. Last year they were routinely pumping 45 SOGs on net, outshooting teams to the tune of top-5 underlying metrics to close out the year. This year, they are below average in virtually every respect outside of their much-heralded power play. What gives? It’s embarrassing. Getting pumped by this Capitals team, missing as many players as they are, that badly?
Holy shit. I never would have guessed the Oilers would have a single game like this, let alone a handful, after watching Woodcroft’s team last year. It’s unbelievable.
The Arizona Coyotes. Wednesday night. 7:30PM MST.