Oilers’ Special Teams Scorches Golden Knights in Game 2 Victory

It was a great rebound effort for the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of their series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers struggled to get momentum in Game 1. The Golden Knights had followed their game plan by limiting rush entries and playing aggressive defense.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Game 2 ended much differently with a decisive 5-1 victory in favor of the Oilers. They will head back to Edmonton to play the next two games at Rogers Place. The Oilers came out with all guns blazing in the first period and with some help from their special teams and Stuart Skinner, they were able to shut the door on the Golden Knights.

Oilers Dominated Period 1 In Every Way

The Oilers struck fast and early in Game 2 against the Golden Knights. Everyone came to play right out of the gate, moving their feet and playing hard and they were rewarded with a couple of power plays early in the contest. The Golden Knights were not playing the same aggressive defense that we saw in Game 1 a few nights prior. Once they were in that funk, they couldn’t get out of it until the second period.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)

By the end of the first frame, the shots were 19-4 in favor of the high-flying Oilers. There was no doubt who was the better team by the time the first 20 minutes had expired. They were incredibly motivated to win this game, and they followed that up with how they played off the hop.

Oilers Won the Special Teams Battle

The Oilers’ deadly power play continued its hot streak in Game 2 going 3-for-6 on the night. Evan Bouchard fired a point shot, and a rebound trickled to the side of the net where a wide-open Leon Draisaitl whacked it home to give the Oilers an early lead 2:21 into the game. Bouchard got his goal on the next power play with a slapshot that snuck its way through traffic and behind Laurent Brossoit.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Oilers’ Game 1 Loss to the Golden Knights

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While the power play having a conversion rate of 50% is impressive, getting a shorthanded goal is also impressive. Connor McDavid was out killing Mattias Ekholm’s holding penalty. He was able to drive to the net with a man on him and poke the puck with one hand on his stick past Brossoit to go up 3-0. There is no question that the Oilers’ special teams units played an enormous role in this Game 2 win.

Skinner Bounces Back From Bad Game 1

Skinner played okay in Game 1, but okay goaltending doesn’t win you playoff games. Skinner stopped 30 of 31 shots in Game 2. Of those 31 shots, 14 came in the third period. He stood tall and was rewarded with a win and a .968 save percentage. He rebounded in a big way, just like he did in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings after being pulled in Game 4.

Stuart Skinner Edmonton Oilers
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers helped him out incredibly in the first period by only allowing the Golden Knights to get four shots on goal. Skinner was up to the task in those moments, which is not always the case when goalies don’t see pucks flying their way for long stretches of gameplay. Over the entire contest the Oilers blocked 13 shots. They did everything they could to help Skinner out, and he was up to the task.

Interesting Stats From Game 2

  • Oilers only had two giveaways (they had 10 in Game 1)
  • Oilers only had four shots in the third period
  • Oilers and Golden Knights had nine five-on-five high-danger chances each
  • Derek Ryan had two high-danger chances

With the next two games being at Rogers Place, the Oilers will need to replicate what they did in Game 2 to continue to win hockey games against the Golden Knights. They must make the most of their special teams opportunities, play aggressively and get timely goaltending.

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