Leon Draisaitl scores a pair of power-play goals and Josh Archibald notches his first of the season in a 3-2 win that splits the spoils in a back-to-back between the Oilers and Canucks
VANCOUVER, BC - Leon Draisaitl's two power-play goals and two assists from Connor McDavid helped the Dynamic Duo reach their 50-point plateaus on Sunday and lift the Oilers to a 3-2 victory, assuring they split the spoils in a back-to-back home and away set with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Oilers begin a four-game home stand on Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:38 p.m. MT.
"It was not a pretty win, but no one is going to ask how we won this game at the end of the day," Draisaitl said. "It's a big two points for us, and it was a gritty effort throughout the whole lineup."
The two points took on extra importance in the locker room when weighed against a 5-2 defeat Saturday on home ice and afternoon injury news that would inject Joakim Nygard and Matt Benning back into the lineup.
"We knew it was going to take a full team effort tonight," Tippett said. "Especially missing a few guys, and we lost Benning during the game. Our goaltender played well, our special teams were good, and in a back-to-back where both teams are tired."
Tippett assembled and deployed new-look lines after delivering the news in his afternoon press conference that forward Zack Kassian would be omitted from tonight's lineup with a back injury.
"Grind out a win; that's what it's about. It's a good two points and we move on."
Draisaitl let go a powerful one-timer off McDavid's cross-ice feed on the Oilers first power-play opportunity of the night midway through the second period before he did it again in similar fashion 46 seconds into the final frame to give the Oilers thadvantage that held until the final buzzer.
Josh Archibald, despite having yet to find the scoresheet this season through 19 games, was elevated to the top line and given an opportunity alongside McDavid and James Neal from his dogged tenacity that's impressed Tippett this season.
"A lot of excitement," Archibald said of getting the assignment alongside McDavid. "He's one of the best players in the world, he makes it easy for his wingers when he's around there buzzing around, so hopefully I get another chance."
It was only a matter of time for him to tally a goal in an Oilers uniform.
Archibald deflected Darnell Nurse's point shot to open the scoring 9:09 into the opening frame, breaking a slump 19 games in the making that was deserving of being broke.
"It was good to get the first one, so hopefully the nerves calm down and it'll start flowing now," he added.
Another first for the Oilers appeared to come in the opening period when Patrick Russell found the back of the net off the second effort on a scramble in front of Canucks netminder Jakob Markstrom, but a coaches challenge catching Markus Granlund stopping Markstrom from resetting in the crease reversed the Dane's jubilant celebrations.
"That's really too bad," Draisaitl commented. "You get so excited for a guy like that. It sucks, but he's going to get one here soon and that one will count."
Defenceman Kris Russell returned to Edmonton shortly after his arrival with the team in Vancouver to attend the birth of his second child, meaning Benning would slot right back in on a pair with Caleb Jones following his concussion recovery.
However, it would be short-lived for the St. Albert, Alberta product after taking another blow, this time from a puck up high, before stopping a 2-on-1 by blocking a shot with his foot in the second period that stopped a dangerous Canucks chance.
"You don't want to see that," Oscar Klefbom, who logged a team-leading 24:29 of ice time, said of his defensive counterpart. "Obviously he just came back from a concussion, so it's tough. Hopefully he will recover quickly here because we'll need him. He's a good player."
Mikko Koskinen, with news earlier of Mike Smith being day-to-day with a leg injury, made 30 saves on 33 shots as Stuart Skinner filled the backup role on an emergency basis from the Bakersfield Condors.
"I feel that I've been playing pretty well all year," Koskinen said. "I'm just trying to do my job every day the best I can."
The Oilers begin a four-game home stand on Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators.