Though the score didn’t reflect it, the Edmonton Oilers play in a 3-2 loss versus the Washington Capitals on Monday night (Dec. 5) was flat-out embarrassing. Had it not been for Stuart Skinner, who stopped all 24 shots fired his way in the first period, and 47 of 50 overall, it would have been a much uglier outcome. Safe to say, the Oilers needed a much better response on Wednesday night versus the Arizona Coyotes, and boy, did they get it.
As expected, the big guys in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl contributed with two points apiece. Though they weren’t forced to carry the load as several others stepped up, something this team could use more of moving forward. With that said, here are the main takeaways from the dominating 7-1 victory.
Nuge’s Strong Season Continues
After a bit of a mediocre 2021-22 campaign by his standards, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been very good through the first quarter of this season, and his strong play continued on Wednesday night. He was able to score the opening goal on a laser of a wrist shot on the power play that beat Connor Ingram on the glove side, and later in the second frame beat him on the glove side once again to extend the lead to 4-1.
With the strong effort, “Nuge” has upped his goal total to 13 – two more than last season – and his point total to 27. While there is still plenty of hockey left to play, he may very well top his career high of 69 points by the time the 2022-23 season wraps up. Though he often goes unmentioned whenever the media discusses the Oilers, fans of this team know just how valuable he is.
Kostin Making an Impact
Though things can certainly change, the Oilers look like big-time winners of a trade just prior to the season that saw them ship Dmitri Samorukov to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Klim Kostin. Despite the former first-round pick starting the season in the American Hockey League, he was recalled roughly a month ago, he has now become a mainstay in the Oilers’ lineup thanks in large part to his physical style of play.
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That said, physicality hasn’t been the only thing he has brought to the Oilers, as his offense has been picking up as of late. After scoring his first of the season three games prior versus the Minnesota Wild, he was able to record a helper on a Derek Ryan goal in the first period of Wednesday’s outing, before finding the back of the net himself on a great wrist shot in the third. As a result, the 23-year-old is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Edmonton.
Return of Kassian
For the first time since he was traded this offseason, Zack Kassian returned to Rogers Place. Though things didn’t go as well as Kassian nor the Oilers had hoped they would in recent seasons, it is impossible to forget the impact he had on the team in his first few seasons, in particular during their playoff run in 2016-17. To no surprise, he was greeted with a nice video tribute and plenty of applause from fans in attendance.
Though Kassian wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet in this one, he dropped the gloves with Kostin late in the third in what was a short but spirited scrap. The fight also resulted in Kostin picking up the first Gordie Howe hat trick of his brief NHL career.
As for Kassian, he has continued to struggle from an offensive standpoint in 2022-23. In 13 games, the rugged winger has found the back of the net just once, and has yet to register a helper. While the lack of offense is disappointing, the 31-year-old has proven in the past that he doesn’t have to put points on the board to be an effective player.
Looking Ahead for the Oilers
While Wednesday night was certainly a fun one, the Oilers will have to get back to business right away, as they are set to take on the Minnesota Wild in their next two games on Monday and Friday. Those games won’t be easy, as the Wild just defeated them by a 5-3 final exactly one week ago. That said, if they put forth the effort they did against the ‘Yotes, they should have success.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.