Just the way we drew it up. Final Score: 7-5 Oilers
Given the playoff race we’re in and the fact that the Red Wings have been playing like hot garbage, I saw no reason why the Oilers shouldn’t close this night out with two points. Detroit was coming into tonight’s contest on a five-game losing streak while Edmonton just beat the brakes off the defending champs, and that meant a lot of us felt this was a must-have night for the Oilers. And with the way this game started — our boys pumped in three quick goals in the opening five minutes — the odds were in their favor provided that they didn’t bung things up in a colossal fashion. Yet, as the period wore on, it was the Red Wings that were on their horse and doing what they could to claw their way back into the game, putting one goal past Koskinen but producing enough chances where they could have easily had more. The good news is that the Oilers stopped Detroit’s comeback in its tracks with a late power play goal from Yamamoto to cap off what was a very strong period from the home side.
With a three-goal lead on the books, the Oilers needed to make sure that they didn’t take their foot off the gas or give the Red Wings any space to get back in the mix, meaning they needed to keep their legs moving and avoid thinking the game was wrapped up. Despite the lead, I wanted to see more killer instinct and have them handle a team that is struggling much like Detroit used to run our show back in the day. I wanted to see the Oilers put this game to bed before it was even half over. Not caring a lick about what I wanted, the Red Wings refused to go away and threw all kinds of pressure the Oilers’ way to try and narrow the gap. Unlike what we saw in the early chunks of the game, it was the visiting side that was playing with urgency and focus, making Sam Gagner’s goal that pulled the Red Wings to within a pair anything but surprising. To be honest, Detroit had the boys back on their heels far too often for my liking, and rather than put this game away as I hoped, the period ended with the Red Wings having a tiny crack in the door available for them. If the Oilers didn’t tighten it up in the third, they were seriously playing with fire against a team that doesn’t know how to quit.
Up by two goals with a period left to play, the Oilers needed to get back on the grind and find a way to score the next goal rather than sitting back and hoping Detroit wouldn’t get one. I wanted to see them throw an anchor at Detroit’s dinghy and watch it sink to the abyss rather than allowing them to keep floating a lot, only a costly mistake away from narrowing the gap even further. And as if reality was being plucked from my nightmares, the Red Wings tagged the Oilers with back-to-back goals within the first three minutes of the period, and just like that, this game went from being in total control to being a problem in a real hurry. As feared, it looked like the Oilers called this thing a night after scoring four goals in the first period, and that laissez faire attitude set the table for what was nearly a disastrous comeback by a team that had no business being in it. I can’t imagine I was the only one that saw the worst coming, right? Thankfully, tying the game twice in the period was as close as Detroit would get to finishing off their goal as the Oilers were able to tack on a trio of their own goals, including a pair from Evander Kane that we needed to close things out.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Devin Shore opened the scoring early (1-0) after parking himself in front of the net and getting his stick on Derek Ryan’s shot from the high slot.
- Only moments after Shore got the party started, Connor McDavid put the Oilers up by a pair (2-0) after he snatched the puck away from Greiss as he was trying to cover and pumped it over the line.
- Before the game was even five minutes old, Zach Hyman put the Oilers up by a field goal after a beautiful individual effort that saw him drive to the net, make a nice move, and sneak a backhander through the goalie and the post.
- Kailer Yamamoto threw a handful of sand in Detroit’s eyes with a power play goal (4-1) in the dying moments of the first period after parking himself in front of the net with his stick on the ice, perfectly deflecting McDavid’s centering pass to the top of the crease. This goal marked Yamamoto’s third in as many games as he continues to heat up down the stretch.
- Just as things were looking bleak, Evander Kane restored the Oilers’ lead (5-4) with a snapshot from the circle that beat the goaltender under the blocker. Kane had a couple of shots on the play but the first one was blocked and ended up popping right back out to his stick with a clean look on net. Kane added an empty-netter (7-5) with just over a minute left in the game to lock in the win and secure two big points.
- Warren Foegele gave the Oilers their third lead of the night (6-5) on a wraparound attempt that changed direction off a defender’s stick, slid under the goalie, and over the goal line. It was the kind of lucky bounce that Foegele desperately needed to try and get himself back on track offensively after registering only a single assist in his last 11 games.
- Every Oilers defenseman got at least a point and I couldn’t tell you when the last time that’s happened.
- Sneaky two-point night for @Duncan Keith and I bet you were just as surprised as I was to learn that. I don’t think Keith was very good, to be honest, but at least he picked up some points in the process?
- I don’t want to get too excited too early, but the Oilers were able to score another goal on the power play. Finishing the night at 1-for-4 with the man advantage, the boys were able to take advantage of a dreadful Detroit PK that has been giving up more than it’s stopped over the last while, but it still would have been nice to see them get more than a single.
- I am fired up to report that the Oilers won 61% of the faceoffs. Magic, dear Internet friends.
- Join us in Calgary for the March 26th BOA as we pack a bus with Nation Citizens and make our way south.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Marc Staal got the Wings on the board (3-1) after his point shot made its way through all kinds of traffic before passing Koskinen down low. Only seconds after Zadina got the Red Wings to within striking distance, Staal scored his second of the night (4-4) with a bomb from the point that made its way through traffic and past the goaltender. Today I learned that Staal has only 49 goals in 1001 career NHL games, and he picked up two of them tonight.
- Sam Win pulled the Wings to within two goals (4-2) with a sharp angle marker near the goal line, and while I should be upset about the opposition scoring, I can never be upset about Gags getting on the board. I love the guy.
- Filip Zadina pulled the Red Wings to within a single goal (4-3) with a power play goal after he teed off on a one-timer from the faceoff dot that beat Mikko up and over the glove. Zadina teed off on that puck and I’m not sure there was much Kostco could do about it.
- Lucas Raymond tied the game for a second time (5-5) after a giveaway by Koskinen behind the net led to the puck squeaking out front with an empty net to shoot at. Frankly, I don’t know what Koskinen or Keith was doing on the play as both of them were around the puck but didn’t seem interested in making a play with it.
- I didn’t like the Oilers’ second period very much. Rather than firing shots en masse as they did in the first, they passed up on too many quality opportunities to drive the puck on the net and try to pick up the garbage.
- As much as I didn’t like the second period, I hated the third period as there were four goals in the first 6:32 of the frame, which made for a much more stressful finish than it should have been.
- The NHL site had the giveaways at 19-11 for the Oilers and that honestly seems about right. They were a Christmas raffle of giveaways out there in the final 40 minutes.
- The Oilers PK faced only one shorthanded situation and they allowed a goal on that chance. No bueno.
- Looking at the Corskis, this was a disappointing loss by the Oilers as they were outshot by the Red Wings on the shot clock by a 35-32 margin.
- I come to you with peace and love to offer up yet another report from the spreadsheets which states that the Oilers finished the night with a 38 CF% and a 34.54 xGF%.
- Mikko Koskinen was deservedly back between the pipes for his 33rd start of the season as he looked to keep building on the heater he’s been running over the last 12 games. And just as we’ve seen since the calendar flipped to 2022, Koskinen was excellent to start off the night, and he gave his teammates the kind of netminding you need down the stretch. But then as the game went along, the Oilers got sloppier by the shift and Kostco was not immune to those mistakes in the crease, even coughing up a puck behind the net that was directly responsible for a goal against. Koskinen finished the night with 30 saves and a .857 save%.
We’re closing in on the NHL Trade Deadline and @DailyFaceoff will have you fully covered!
— Oilersnation.com, Oily Since ’07 (@OilersNation) March 15, 2022
He hits the bottom of the scoreboard!
— Big Kiwi (@kiwi_pfitz) March 16, 2022
— Taylor Smith (@iamtaylorsmith) March 16, 2022
Former Oilers Sam Earning Scores… Crowd is emotionally torn. Winning was very popular among Oilers fans, still is, and were some cheers when goal was announced. 4-2 Edmonton.
—Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) March 16, 2022
On this week’s episode, we looked at some of the Oilers’ biggest needs heading into the trade deadline and answered your questions in another strange edition of Ask the Idiots.