Mikko Koskinen's 45 saves on Saturday propel the Oilers to victory in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets
EDMONTON, AB - No matter who tends the twine for the Oilers on any given night, they instil confidence in their club.
Mikko Koskinen has now been immense for the Oilers in both of his last two starts.
The Finnish netminder had his shutout bid spoiled by Gustav Nyquist with 59 seconds on the clock, but his 45 saves on Saturday night at Rogers Place in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets were vital to the Oilers earning the two points and claiming a share of top spot in the Pacific Division.
The Oilers take on the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place on Monday in a pivotal Pacific Division tilt. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.
"I felt good there," Koskinen said post-game. "I think in the end we still played pretty well. We kept them to the outside and they got a lot of shots, but most of them were outside."
Alex Chiasson's 10th goal of the season 3:08 of the first period held up as the game's only goal until the final five minutes of the third period in a frame that saw the Oilers get outshot 21-7 by the Blue Jackets.
"There's probably one reason why we were in the game - our goaltending," Chiasson said. "Other than that, we better be prepared for Monday if we play like that. It's not going to look too pretty after 20 minutes."
Defenceman Caleb Jones' deflected point shot off a Columbus stick as the clock ticked below the five-minute mark took the pressure off the Oilers and their goaltender.
With Oscar Klefbom returning to the lineup, and spots on the Oilers blueline becoming scarce as bodies return from injury, sticking in the lineup and delivering the eventual game-winning goal was a big confidence boost for the young defender.
"They've had some guys who've been here for a while and have a lot of games and experience," Jones said. "The fact that the coaches felt confident enough to keep me in there, even though I was on my off side, just puts more confidence in me that maybe I'm gaining their trust.
"It allows me to keep playing my game and trying to get better."
Koskinen stole the show on the road in Dallas on Tuesday with 42 stops before carrying that 'Mikko Magic' onto home ice on a night when the players in front of him weren't as stellar as their netminder.
"The name of the game is to win, and we won," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "You have to win in different ways, and tonight was really ugly.
"But you look at this week and it's been a hard one for us. We have a day off tomorrow and hopefully we'll recoup some energy and get back at it for a big game on Monday."
Captain Connor McDavid poked home his 33rd tally of the year from the build-up provided by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian to put the game out of reach, but a breakaway converted by Nyquist in the final minute following a big Koskinen pad stop spoiled Koskinen's perfect outing.
"It doesn't matter," Koskinen said of conceding a late goal. "It's 3-1, so that goal didn't matter. It would suck more to let that in in the middle of the third. Then it would be a different game."
Riley Sheahan's empty-netter with 30 seconds on the clock that went down as his eighth of the season broke a streak of 13 games for the forward without a goal.
The Oilers tie the Vegas Golden Knights for first in the Pacific with the win, but Vegas will take on the Calgary Flames on the road Sunday before entering Rogers Place the following night for the second of a back-to-back and a pivotal divisional contest.