3 Takeaways From Oilers’ Historic Win Over the Kraken

The Edmonton Oilers continued their red-hot start to the 2021-22 NHL season on Monday (Nov. 1), defeating the Seattle Kraken 5-2. Edmonton improves its record to 7-1-0, moving past the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division.

It was a historic night, as the expansion Kraken played their first regular-season game in Canada and faced the Oilers for the first time in the regular season. Kraken defenceman Adam Larsson, who departed Edmonton for Seattle in the offseason, was warmly received from the Rogers Place faithful upon his first return to the rink where he spent the last five seasons.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Leon Draisaitl had two goals and two assists to lead the Oilers to what admittedly wasn’t the prettiest the wins, considering Seattle was coming off a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Seattle less than 24 hours earlier and Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord was making just the ninth start of his NHL career.

At one point late in the second period, the Oilers were being outshot 19-8 while leading 3-2, but Edmonton closed out strong with two goals in the third period, including one that was a very, very, very long time coming.

Yamamoto Gets Off the Schneid

April 8, 2021. That was the last time Kailer Yamamoto had scored a goal for the Oilers, a span that included regular season, playoff, and even preseason games. It had been since March 8, 2021 that he had scored a goal at Rogers Place, and the last time the 23-year-old had scored a goal in his home rink in front of fans was when he was 21, on March 2, 2020.

Finally, the droughts are over. On Monday, Yamamoto scored Edmonton’s fifth goal, taking a nice feed from Draisaitl and tucking the puck behind Daccord at 12:22 of the third period.

Edmonton’s bench exploded, as did Oilers’ social media. Everyone had been genuinely rooting for the snake-bitten winger to snap out of his unfathomable funk. Even as the Spokane native’s offensive production evaporated (one goal in his previous 32 regular-season games; only one point in his last 17, including none this season), it was hard to be mad at Yamamoto, whose effort was never in question.

Now that he’s got the monkey off his back, could Yamamoto get on a roll? After all, this is a player who was pegged for stardom just a year and a half ago after registering 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 games following his recall from the American Hockey League on Dec. 29, 2019.

That was when the line of Yamamoto, Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was as good as any in the NHL. Despite Yamamoto’s struggles, Oilers coach Dave Tippett has kept faith in Yamamoto and kept him on Edmonton’s second line.

“He’s a big part of our group,” Draisaitl said of his linemate in Monday’s post-game availability. “It’s tough to see teammates go through slumps like that. He works so hard each and every day, and lately, he’s been playing better and better and getting a few looks, and they’re not going in.

“It’s very easy to get frustrated, and he’s been sticking with it, so this is awesome for him, it’s great to see, and hopefully, this opens the floodgates a little bit for him.”

Koskinen Keeps Up Solid Play

Mikko Koskinen made 27 saves for Edmonton Monday, with some timely stops, while Kraken controlled the shot clock and tilted the ice in their favor.

The much-maligned goalie is now 5-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Koskinen has played every minute between the pipes for the Oilers since replacing Mike Smith after Edmonton’s No. 1 netminder was hurt midway through a 6-5 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Oct.19.

Koskinen’s inconsistency has been well documented in Edmonton, but he has been good in five of his six outings this season, the lone exception being Edmonton’s only loss, 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 27.

Right from training camp, there have been positive signs from Koskinen. During preseason, the 33-year-old spoke candidly spoke about the difficulty of being separated from his family last season and how life is much easier now that he’s back together with his wife and young children. The goalie seems to be in a much better place personally, and thus far, the results on the ice speak for themselves.

Smith is now back on the ice during practice for the Oilers and was listed as day-to-day. Given Koskinen’s standout early-season play, watching how Oilers coach Dave Tippett distributes starts between his goalies will be interesting.

Draisaitl Ties McDavid For Scoring Lead

With seven goals and 10 assists, Draisaitl has 17 points to tie teammate Connor McDavid for the league lead. McDavid had an assist on Monday, bringing his season totals to a matching seven goals and 10 helpers.

The duo is tied for second in the NHL in both goals (trailing only Alex Ovechkin, who has scored eight times for the Washington Capitals) and assists (Nugent-Hopkins picked up one helper on Monday to take over the top spot in the league with 11).

Related Link: Oilers’ McDavid & Draisaitl Both Have Paths to 150 Points This Season

Draisaitl and McDavid are on pace for 174 points in 82 games. After McDavid’s remarkable 100 points in 56 games last season, many are already talking about a run this season at 150 points, a feat that has only been accomplished 16 times in NHL history by just five different players. The only teammates to reach 150 in the same season are Wayne Gretzky and Bernie Nichols with the 1988-89 Los Angeles Kings.

Predators Are Next

Edmonton hosts the Nashville Predators on Wednesday (Nov. 3) at 6:30 pm MDT. The Oilers have tied for their best eight-game start in franchise history, equaling their 7-1-0 records in 1983-84, 1985-86, 2016-17, and 2019-20. Wins in their next two games would give the Oilers their first-ever 9-1 start.

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