The Edmonton Oilers opened the scoring in this 2nd edition of the Battle of Alberta this season, survived a half-hesitant frame, but then absolutely blocked by the rest of the way. In fact, the Oilers praised offensive club Calgary Flames by only 4 pitches in the third, on the way to a 1-0 home win.
If the Oilers had capitalized on one of their 5 power players, they would not have reached the final few seconds. Man's advantage was all smoke and not fire. Fortunately, the Oilers were the top 5 × 5 team.
For the Oilers, this was their third consecutive win and their fifth straight home win. It leaves Edmonton a single point off a wild-card point and a playoff spot in the Pacific. And they have games on hand in both Vegas and San Jose.
Here is the tale of the tape:
Edmonton Oilers Player Grades
MIKKO KOSKINEN. 9. The game player, by Edmonton side. He stopped all 24 shots he faced, including 6 in the power play. The clumsy Finn was very efficient in his own fold, limiting rebounds and kicking many pucks in the corner and out of danger. A disc passed him, the deflection of Peluso. But this was rightly called back by interference … as the flame player was both in the blue paint and preventing the efforts of the goalkeeper to stab a block to the approaching shot. Koskinen's best defense was in fact a series of them, against the moments of Ryan and Bennett, when the second end of the 2nd Period fell. Do not look now, but the Oilers have two hot goalkeepers. Koskinen is 6-and-0 with 3 shut-outs at Rogers Place.
CONNOR McDAVID. 7. The eventual winner of the game in an odd-man race at the start of the 1st Period came home after Alex Chiasson rescued a partially broken play and broke a sharp pass net where # 97 was camped. That was one of five pitches on the net for Connor, who spent 21:43 fighting for a Flames club who otherwise did a decent job of containing # 97. He hit a cross-bar in the 3rd Period he would have, could have provided some insurance.
LEON DRAISAITL. 7. Recorded the second assist on the only goal with a backhand for Alex Chiasson. It was not the variety we are used to seeing coming out of Leon's staff, but it did the job. I really felt like the best Draisaitl series was in the Penalty Kill in the 3rd Period. Leon made three important plays in that particular PK, including an effective dig in his own zone and clever point on a track in the neutral zone to hold an assortment of Flames. 3 shots on the net at 24:35. I fought on the spot and liked the whole team … and we did not get much 5 × 4.
ALEX CHIASSON. 7 A perfect pass to Connor McDavid for the 1-0. I wonder if Alex Chiasson could handle the rhythm in this line, but so far he has proven himself worthy. Generally speaking, the disc was going in the right direction while it was on the ice. And he has a lot of it … 20: 58.
OSCAR KLEFBOM. 7. A key defensive piece by Oscar Klefbom at the beginning of this. The Flames had started 2-on-1 (almost 3-for-1), with Flames # 1 on the break from prison and Klefbom the lonely man back. But the skillful bat of the Oscar ended the race and eliminated any chance of recovery. This reversal of luck seemed to energize the Oilers' bench. From then on, during the opening period, the Oilers were the best team. Klefbom had 4 shots in all, 3 blocks and a take at 28:03. It was part of the problem, however, in a pop-gun power game.
ADAM LARSSON. 6. A power tower in its own zone, with 5 hits and 3 blocks at 20:54. It would have been better, however, if more of the game while he was on ice was not at his own end. Bent, but it did not break.
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. This line had its struggles, but mostly it was the wings of the Nugent-Hopkins that failed to progress. The Nuge was decent, actually. 4 shots on the net, including a break-way, where David Rittich stoned him in what was a beautiful supporting hand. Also had 6 accesses and 6 blocks. Toe be fair though, some of these two statistics are due to the fact that the line was chasing too much.
JESSE PULJUJARVI. 4. Almost invisible at 11:35. A gift. Just it.
JUJHAR KHAIRA. 5. He came back a little after a great series of games. His 3-some allowed many Flames opportunities. And Khaiara had the worse chances of scoring against the team. A shot and a success. He redeemed his performance with a good work of 1:52 in the PK.
DARNELL ENURSE. 6. Darnell Nurse has had trouble adjusting to Ken Hitchcock's new defense zone, something his veteran partner (predictably) was much sharper. But this was the first night in 10 that I thought the nurse had more to discover. All CF events of 21-19, 52.5%. 3 shots and 2 hits at 20:24. He was beaten in a run late in the third by Sam Bennett, but his goalkeeper saved him and took a very cheap blow in the process.
KRIS RUSSELL. 7. It was a bid whether Russell or Klefbom was Oilers best D-man at night. But as Klefbom failed to make the power play, I'm going to give the signal to Russell, who was great at 7:00 PM work. He blocked 7 pucks away from his goalkeeper and absorbed a series of heavy blows behind his own goal line in order to make a small smart game with the puck. He had 3 shots of his own and ended up in +1. His +4 30 games in the season lead all Oilers blue-liners.
KYLE BRODZIAK. Part of a very effective third line. He had 2 shots, 2 hits and, at 50%, Kyle Brodziak was Oilers' most consistent face tonight. Good shift work, he turned in the PK. He made an unnecessary hooking penalty that put his club into a 5 × 4 early in the 3rd period, but his teammates saved his bacon at that.
MILAN LUCIC. 7. This was the best Milan Lucic game of the year. He was an absolute force, and this line took many turns against the main unit in Calgary. This shows that Ken Hitchcock has tremendous confidence in the 3-some. Travis Hamonic is still looking for any vehicle that has hit him in the first period, the 1 of 3 recorded for # 27. He ended a tilt with Anthony Peluso with a strong right-wing blow before interference aids hit the field. They had (take into account) 4 take-away with a stubborn action in the zone of attack. He has not scored yet. But you will enjoy this Milan Lucic every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
ZACK KASSIAN. 7. Like his line-mate, Kassian has his best outing from 2018-19 to date. What I enjoyed the most was how Kassian still played a physical game but kept his head on him … something that this player is not always able to do. But when Kassian plays "disciplined chaos," he makes a significant impact on a game. It took all the players with 9 hits (yes, 9!), Several of them from the overwhelming variety. Not a second in the box, and the other side … very good 1:16 in the PK.
KEVIN GRAVEL. 7. Played a very strong game. One hit and three blocks at 11:45. His best moment was when he broke a dangerous 2-on-1 Flames with only 5 minutes in the second period to help send his club to the locker room with an advantage after 40. All-Events 5 × 5 CF 13- 8, 61, 90%). His stability in the third pair allows Hitchcock to leave Kris Russell in the second pair, where Russell has been the more stable of the two.
MATT BENNING. 7. Matthew Benning Announced at the outset that he had appeared to play tonight with a shocking hit that left Anthony Peluso on ice and not at all happy about it. It was the best game I've seen Benning play for a while. One shot and 2 hits at 12:28. And the play was going in the right direction with him and Gravel on the ice.
RYAN SPOON. 5. The fourth line did not receive much ice (8:06 for Spooner) and did not get a single shot in the net. But the line had more chances than not (5 × 5 CF 11-5, 68.75%, and Ryan Spooner did not make real mistakes in the other direction.
TY RATTIE. 4. One of the few Oilers who fought defensively, Ty Rattie had 3 goodies in the night. There was a shot and a hit at 9:42.
VALETIN ZYKOV. 4. Very quiet A toast and a take-away in just 7:01, 2:00 of that on a Power Play that did not show much.
Finally, it was a treat for this hockey fan and for the old broadcaster to hear Bob Cole calling the game. He is no longer at the peak of his game, as it was in the mid-1990s. But Mr. Cole's voice and NHL hockey are synonymous.
How lucky we are to get their legendary shades for a final season and another victory for the home team in Edmonton.
Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins
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