Oilers 5, Blues 4
Edmonton Oilers’ topsy-turvy road trip took another turn on Sunday night, this one for the better. In a wild back-and-forth battle with St. Louis Blues, the Oilers blew a 2-goal lead in the third period but came out on top when Kailer Yamamoto scored to break a 4-4 tie with just 28 seconds left in regulation time.
It’s been a weird trip that has seen the Oil drop a pair of games they were strongly favoured to win in Detroit and Buffalo, but battle through a fair bit of adversity to beat two top-level opponents in Boston and now St. Louis.
One would never know it by the score, but netminder Mikko Koskinen played a massive part in the win, making a number of ten-bell saves as the Blues peppered him with rubber both at even strength and on their #2 ranked powerplay which was highly effective in 5 opportunities. The Blues held the edge in play, producing a 39-32 count on the shot clock, a 19-8 edge in High Danger Scoring Chances, and a 19-15 advantage by our own (preliminary) count of Grade A shots here at the Cult of Hockey .
#2 Duncan Keith, 4. Oilers defenders were under the gun all night, and the Keith-Ceci pairing were no exception with some difficult moments at both even strength and on the penalty kill. Koskinen was the only reason they weren’t scorched for more than just the one goal against (the 2-2). Keith was victimized on 4 Grade A looks at even strength and 5 more on the PK. Did make a couple of fine passes, including one that set up 97-29-13 for a pair of good chances early in the third.
#6 Kris Russell, 5. Made a couple of good defensive stops and a gutsy shot block, but was scorched by a cross-crease pass right through his lane on the 4-3.
#8 Kyle Turris, 6. Earned a sharp assist with a good keep-in and pass to Foegele in the build-up to McLeod’s tally. Involved in a couple of other good looks by the Oil. Was, however, beaten in the defensive slot on the 4-4.
#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Logged just 5:38 at even strength. Played a big role on the penalty kill (3:32 to lead all forwards), even as he too was bailed out by his goaltender more than once. His major contribution was an excellent 9/11=82% on the faceoff dot including 3/4=75% on the PK.
#16 Tyler Benson, 5. Logged just 4:25 on a lightly-used fourth line, but that was enough time to lead the Oilers with 3 hits. Played with energy and enthusiasm.
#18 Zach Hyman, 7. A strange game where the puck was bouncing on him a lot, with a couple of scoring chances lost in the process. Didn’t muster a single shot on net, but was instrumental in the first 2 Oilers goals, earning assists on both. Made a fine rush and centring pass to McDavid on the 1-1 at the very end of the first, then provided an effective screen on Draisaitl’s powerplay tally. Interecpted a puck and fed Puljujarvi for another dangerous look. His line spent a lot of time in its own end, but the problems weren’t occurring on Hyman’s side of the ice. Played a whopping 22:21 including significant time on both special teams, and contributed to a brilliant defensive shift deep in St. Louis territory as the Oilers worked the clock after Yamamoto’s game winner.
#25 Darnell Nurse, 4. Among the defensive culprits on 2 Blues goals, beaten by key passes on both the 1-0 and the 4-4. Did manage a secondary assist on the game-winner.
#29 Leon Draisaitl, 9. Another outstanding game in all facets. His line with RNH and Yamamoto was Edmonton’s best both by eye and on paper, producing outstanding shot shares on a night their mates were largely in chase mode. (Oilers outshot the Blues 13-6 during Draisaitl’s 18 minutes at even strength, while by our count he contributed to 9 Grade A shots by the Oilers at even strength, just 1 against.) Scored 1-2-3 to add to his league lead in both goals and points. Pounded home another one-timer on the powerplay to break a 1-1 tie early in the second. Minutes later made a superb centring pass to RNH on the 3-2. Then made a fine rush, stop-up, and centring pass to Yamamoto for the game winner. Topped it off with a brilliant shift as the clock wound down, first winning the faceoff from O’Reilly, then twice disrupting Blues breakout plays to keep the puck deep.
#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 8. His night got off to an unpromising start when he was set up twice by Draisaitl in the slot and failed to get a shot on net, firing wide of the target on one and double-clutching on the other that had this observer mumbling about his need to develop an effective one-timer. But made up for it in a big way later. Earned his first assist of the season on RNH’s first goal of the season, jumping high(-ish) to cut off a clearing shot along the left wing boards, then feed it to Draisaitl down low for the killer pass. His big moment came in the game’s final minute when he burst into the slot, accepted Drai’s centring pass and did indeed fire an effective one-timer that overpowered Craig Billington.
#70 Colton Sceviour, 4. Took a killer penalty late in the first, moments after the Oilers had barely survived 2 prior Blues powerplays. Sure enough, they converted their third chance after just 7 seconds. Was also in frame on the 4-3 goal, losing a battle to big Colton Parayko in the corner. Did have 2 shots and a team-high 3 hits in his 7:23 of action, and chipped in nearly 3 minutes on the penalty kill. He does lots of “the little things” right; I can see why coaches like him.
#71 Ryan McLeod, 7. Has come alive on this road trip and was rewarded in St. Louis with his first NHL goal, when he jumped on Foegele’s “pass” and fired a one-timer off the backhand side that found the top of the net behind Binnington. Came just 8 seconds after RNH had put the Oilers in front and sent the Oilers to the room with a should-be-comfortable 2-goal cushion. Skated well, moved the puck OK and dominated the faceoff dot with 9/11=82%, matching Ryan for the team lead on a night the team as a whole went 38/61=62%.
#75 Evan Bouchard, 4. Had his struggles defensively, finding himself on the wrong side of more than one Blues attacker. Beaten by a cross-ice pass on the St. Louis powerplay goal, and lost a battle on the 4-4 when the goal scorer got inside of him and into the blue paint for the tap in. Had 1 decent look at the other end. Played 23:46 to lead all Oilers (1 second more than Nurse!), and also topped all penalty killers with 4:16, contributing some good clears to that effort.
#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. All over the puck all night. Appeared determined to break his season-long goal drought, and finally got rewarded when he converted a Draisaitl feed with a quick shot through both defender and goaltender to put the Oilers in front 3-2. That was just 1 of the 8 shots he fired over the course of the game, each of them on target. Nearly scored earlier when he won a puck battle in his own territory on the penalty kill, sped up ice, used Hyman as a decoy and nearly jammed one home from the edge of the crease, drawing a penalty in the process. Drew another later in the game, while taking one of his own along the way. His on-ice shot share of 73% was best on the team.