The Edmonton Oilers stretched their winning streak over the Winnipeg Jets to six games, officially winning seven of their nine games against the Jets. Thanks to a three-point night from Tyson Barrie and Connor McDavid, the Oilers will now head back to Edmonton in good spirits in order to play a two-game set against their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames.
After the Oilers cruised to a 6-1 win over the Jets on Monday night, both teams respective head coaches mentioned that this bout would be much more tight-checking, and they were right, as both teams applied dogged forecheck through the entire game, which led to no easy chances.
Koskinen Stands Tall
After not playing for three weeks, Oilers’ goaltender Mikko Koskinen gave his team a very sturdy performance, stopping 29 shots, including a flurry of Winnipeg high-quality chances in the third period. Koskinen has been on a nice little run the past 10 games, allowing two goals or less in eight of those 10 contests. Ever since his goaltending partner Mike Smith came back, he has been great, showing that with a bit of rest, he can play well in a backup/platoon role.
Koskinen said that he noticed a big improvement from the Oilers since he had come to the team, saying, “We’ve started to play really well, this is a huge step for our team” and “Compared to the start of the year to now, we’ve taken a huge step, but we can still be a better team by the end of the year.”
Nugent-Hopkins Return’s With Hot Hand
Ever since coming back from a concussion that forced him to miss four games, Oilers’ forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring four points in three games, including a goal and an assist against the Jets. Head coach Dave Tippett has reunited his top line from the 2019-2020 season, featuring Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. That line has produced a combined 11 points in four games, showing that they have not lost their chemistry from last season.
When asked about how that line has re-found their chemistry, Nugent-Hopkins said that it starts by supporting each other in the offensive, and defensive zone, also saying, “It helps to be able to read and support off each other, and it help’s knowing where we are going to be.” The “DRY” line has been dominant in limited time this season, ragging the puck in opponents’ end while tiring down their competition before making a lightning-quick pass or deke to create a scoring chance.
Dynamic Duo Domination
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid continued their dominance over the Jets, as McDavid had his fourth straight three-point game, and Draisaitl added an empty-net goal. McDavid now has an outstanding 22 points in just nine games against the Jets, including nine straight multi-point games. His 1.76 points per game against the Jets trails only Wayne Gretzky for highest among Oiler players.
Draisaitl has not been as dominant as his superstar teammate has against the Jets, but still has posted great numbers, including 7 goals and 5 assists against the Jets this season. With the Oilers and Jets likely meeting in a first-round matchup, the Jets will have to find a way to shut down Edmonton’s top guns, or else, the series will be over before they know it.
On to Calgary
The Oilers will now head back home to face the Calgary Flames in their final two matchups of the season. Edmonton has won five of the seven games they have played against the Flames this season, showing they can win in a variety of ways by scoring seven goals two times but also winning a couple of 3-2 and 2-1 games this season. McDavid has also feasted on Calgary this season, scoring seven goals and 15 points against the Flames. The Flames have been on a bit of a hot streak as of late, winning five of their past seven contests as they try and catch Montreal for the final playoff berth in the Scotia North Division. Expect Smith and Jacob Markstrom to be the starters for their respective teams, with the latter heating up as of late, allowing two goals or less in seven of his last eight games.