The Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks Friday night at 7 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – The Oilers much maligned power play came to life against the St. Louis Blues, who entered the game second in the NHL in penalty killing, scoring four goals as Edmonton secured a 6-4 victory.
“We were getting drilled and quizzed about the power play and then we get hot all of a sudden and it goes in the net,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I thought the power play had an all-time high, as far as urgency went, and it outworked the penalty kill. Simple as that. We weren’t cute, we weren’t fancy, we shot, we got the puck back, we scored on rebounds. Nothing fancy about it.”
The Oilers power play came into the game having gone 4-for-46 over the course of 17 games. Their four goals on the man advantage against St. Louis were their most all season. Their previous high was going 3-for-3 against Ottawa on February 4. Tonight’s game was also the first time since January 28, 2013 that the Oilers scored four power-play goals. That was a 4-1 win over Colorado. The franchise record is five, last achieved in 1988.
The Oilers nearly took the lead at 6:55 of the first period in exciting fashion as rookie centre Connor McDavid had a breakaway against St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen. However, McDavid couldn’t bury that opportunity. The rookie had another breakaway later in the first, which was also denied by Allen.
Eight minutes into the game, Edmonton opened the scoring, getting a much-welcomed power-play goal. The Oilers were held scoreless on the man advantage in five straight, and 13 of their last 14 games, coming into the night. That drought ended when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored from the slot, assisted by Patrick Maroon and Nail Yakupov. With Maroon screening Allen, Yakupov fired a shot on net. Maroon tapped the puck back to Nugent-Hopkins who made no mistake on his chance.
The Oilers went ahead 2-0 at 13:32 of the first when Taylor Hall sniped a shot, assisted by Iiro Pakarinen and Jordan Oesterle. With Mark Letestu screening Allen, Pakarinen whipped a backhand shot on net. The puck leaked out to the side, where Hall pounced on his chance, rifling his team-leading 23rd of the season.
David Backes scored glove side of Cam Talbot at 14:17 of the third to gain back the one-goal deficit. Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo recorded the assists. At the six-minute mark of the second, St. Louis drew even with the Oilers. A point shot from Joel Edmundson was potted by Jaden Schwartz as the Blues made it a 2-2 game
Then, the Oilers power play took over.
The Oilers got their second man-advantage goal at 7:42 of the second, giving the team a lead once again. Letestu, standing once again in front of the net, stuck with it and buried the loose puck past Allen. Andrej Sekera and McDavid recorded assists. It was the first time since February 16 that Edmonton had scored multiple power-play goals.
It appeared as though Leon Draisaitl, playing in his 100th NHL game, gave Edmonton a 4-2 lead, on the power play, at 14:29 of the second, but a coach’s challenge deemed the play offside. It didn’t take long for the Oilers to get that goal back. In fact, it was Draisaitl himself who scored it. The Oilers centre redirected a shot past Allen from the slot at 15:05 of the middle frame. That goal was assisted by McDavid and Letestu.
“It was really important to us 10 players (on power-play units),” said Draisaitl. “We wanted to get out of it. Obviously, we know as well as you guys it has been struggling. It’s nice to have a really good game.”
Nugent-Hopkins snuck a short-side shot past Allen at 8:09 of the second, also on the power play, giving the Oilers a 5-2 lead. Yakupov and Jordan Eberle had the helpers.
“It was really nice to break out in a big way like we did tonight,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “We got five, but four counted. It’s something we’ve been harping on a lot lately. It hasn’t been good enough lately and tonight we broke out. It was really nice. We keyed on it big time, won some battles and took some good shots and it paid off.”
The Blues made it interesting, though, scoring twice early in the third period to make it a 5-4 affair. Patrik Berglund made it 5-3 when he swiped a loose puck past Talbot just 58 seconds into the third. Backes drew St. Louis back to within one at 5:48.
Letestu provided the insurance empty-net tally with 17 seconds remaining when he hopped the puck over a sprawling Blues player.
The Oilers five-game homestand continues as they host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night at 7 p.m. MT.