On a night that it was the secondary story in Oil Country, the Edmonton Oilers won their game at Rogers Place on Thursday (Jan. 27), defeating the Nashville Predators 3-2. After a dreadful 15-game stretch in which they won just twice, the Oilers are now riding a modest streak of three consecutive victories.
Edmonton rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before ultimately prevailing in the shootout where Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s highlight-reel goal accounted for all the scoring. McDavid also tallied in regulation, and Evan Bouchard added a goal for the Oilers, who got 28 saves from goalie Mikko Koskinen.
With news that Edmonton has signed Evander Kane to a one-year contract breaking just a few hours before puck drop, most fans were still talking about the Oilers’ addition of the controversial forward and might not have been watching the action as closely as usual on Thursday.
That said, there was no shortage of interesting takeaways from Edmonton’s 21st win of this season. Here are three that you might have missed.
Oilers With Yet Another Comeback Win
Going back to Dec. 18, the Oilers have now come from behind and scored the game-winning goal after the second intermission in each of their last four wins. They’ve had to rally from a two-goal deficit in three of those four victories and trailed first in all four wins.
That last stat comes as no surprise, given the Oilers have now surrendered the game’s first goal in 11 straight contests (tying a franchise record), 17 of their last 18 games, 26 of the previous 30, and 29 times overall this season (most in the NHL).
It took Nashville all of 5:07 to get on the board Thursday, scoring on just its third shot of the game, when Filip Forsberg put the puck behind Koskinen to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
Edmonton has now won 11 times when trailing first, tied for second-most in the NHL, and have points in 13 of the 29 games they have allowed the opening goal.
While it’s encouraging that the Oilers have shown an ability to come back, constantly chasing the game is still no recipe for sustained success. The evidence is in Edmonton’s 15 games before this current win streak: the Oilers went 2-11-2 in that stretch, allowing the first goal in all 13 games they lost.
McDavid Breaks Out of Scoring Slump
After a stretch where he had been kept from scoring in 12 of 14 games, McDavid now has a goal in back-to-back games, both of which have proven pivotal: his overtime winner at Rogers Arena on Tuesday (Jan. 25) lifted the Oilers past the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 and gave Edmonton its first road victory in seven tries.
On Thursday, McDavid beat Nashville netminder Juuse Saros for his 21st goal of 2021-22, scoring off the rush at 19:29 of the first period to tie score 1-1. It was the first time McDavid recorded a goal at home since Dec. 1, a nine-game drought that was almost unfathomable for the multi-time Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner who averages nearly one goal for every two games over his NHL career.
McDavid also extended his point streak to three games. After going without a goal or assist in his prior three outings, he now has two goals and three assists over Edmonton’s three-game win streak, factoring in on half of the Oilers’ goals in that stretch. It’s no secret that as their captain goes, so too do the Oilers, so his return to form is a welcome sight in Edmonton.
Koskinen Continues Strong Play
This has been a predictably unpredictable season from Koskinen, whose play fluctuates between hot and cold more than the temperature in Edmonton’s fickle weather patterns. Over his first 14 appearances of 2021-22, the veteran Finn went 12-2 with a 2.82 goals-against average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage (SV%). He then lost his next seven starts, going 0-6-1 with a 4.28 GAA and .855 SV%.
When Edmonton defeated Calgary 5-3 on Saturday (Jan. 21), it was Koskinen’s first victory since Dec. 1. Now he’s got three of them in the space of five days, backstopping the Oilers with a 2.22 GAA and .933 SV% over Edmonton’s past three games.
Koskinen deserves ample praise for his play over these most recent outings; he’s shown resilience by bouncing back from early goals, made key stops when Edmonton needed them late in the game, and has just generally performed at the caliber of a No. 1 netminder. His unreal save in the shootout on Preds’ star Matt Duchene (who had earlier scored Nashville’s second goal) was front-page-photo worthy.
With Mike Smith on injured reserve and the status of that veteran goalie’s health as murky as ever, the Oilers will continue to depend on Koskinen and 23-year-old Stuart Skinner between the pipes. If the wins are going to keep coming, Edmonton will need Koskinen to maintain this level of play. History, however, suggests that is highly unlikely.
Koskinen could make his fifth consecutive start when the Oilers play next, Saturday at Centre Bell against the Montreal Canadiens. Still, all the focus will be on whether Kane makes his Oilers debut under the bright lights of Hockey Night in Canada.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.