Takeaways From the Oilers Narrow Victory Over the Golden Knights

The Edmonton Oilers bested their Pacific Division foe, the Vegas Golden Knights, with a slim 3-2 victory. This is the Oilers’ second win against the Golden Knights this season and one in which the injury scripts were flipped from the first meeting. The Oilers beat an injury-plagued Golden Knights team earlier this season, and this time around, the Oilers were the ones missing their big guns still without Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, and Slater Koekkoek on the backend.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Despite the undermanned blueline, the Oilers rode the three unanswered goals they scored through the first half of the game to a big road victory. The team continues to play well overall this season and has had some young blueliners step up after key injuries to the defense corps. Mikko Koskinen also came up big in the victory while other players broke out of their slumps and put points up on the board. This win helps the Oilers widen the gap from the Golden Knights in the division as the team continues to pile up the wins and bank points in the standings.

Broberg Continues to Thrive in Increased Role

One of the main reasons the Oilers have been able to muster up wins despite major losses to their blue line is the emergence of their young defenders. Philip Broberg’s seen his role increase greatly since being recalled from the American Hockey League and is making the most of his opportunity. In his four games with the Oilers, he has seen time on ice jump from 14:24 up to a career-high 23:34 in which he played against the Golden Knights.

Philip Broberg Oilers Draft
Philip Broberg, Edmonton Oilers, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Broberg is paired exclusively with newcomer Cody Ceci and currently acting as the team’s shut-down pair in games. This is somewhat of a shock, considering Broberg is known more for his offensive ability but is showcasing his strong defensive play on hockey’s biggest stage.

Related: Silver Lining for Oilers Despite Keith and Nurse Injuries

He is in head coach Dave Tippett’s good books and appears to be trusted by him to be a consistent and responsible defender by the way he is being deployed. Broberg’s strong play is leading to a decrease in minutes for Evan Bouchard, who is having a breakout season himself. For a player with several question marks around him heading into the 2021-22 season, he is proving why the Oilers did not make a mistake when they drafted him with the eighth overall selection back in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

McDavid and Draisaitl Held Pointless

Take a picture of this game summary because the Oilers were able to win a game without the help of both of their superstar forwards. Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl entered the game as two of the top three scorers in the NHL but failed to register a point in the team’s victory.

After the two played on the same line against the Arizona Coyotes in their previous outing, Dave Tippett opted to play them on separate lines in this game. It’s nice to see the Oilers get depth scoring and get the win without contributions from their two best players.

McDavid and Draisaitl played 22:01 and 22:00 minutes, respectively. They registered a combined three shots on goal, significantly less than the 14 combined shots they put up in their previous game against the Arizona Coyotes. The Golden Knights made life difficult for McDavid, who looked frustrated in this game and also got banged up after taking a hit from Jonathan Marchessault. Despite the valiant effort of the Golden Knights to hold the league’s top scorers off the scoresheet, the Oilers emerged victoriously. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them both bounce back next game and register multiple points to make up for this goose egg.

Pair of Oilers End Goalless Drought

With McDavid and Draisaitl not being on the scoresheet, other players needed to step up and contribute and both Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi did just that. After recently being demoted off the team’s top line to the team’s second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto, Hyman found himself breaking his scoring slump, potting the Oilers’ second goal of the game.

Hyman was off to a hot start in his first season with the Oilers scoring eight goals through his first 12 games. The goal tonight snapped a seven-game goalless drought for him, which is a welcomed sign for a team that made finding a scoring depth a priority in the offseason.

Puljujarvi also snapped his scoreless skid in this one, scoring the team’s third goal and the eventual game-winner on a breakaway in the second period. Along with Hyman, Puljujarvi began the season on the team’s top line with McDavid but played on the team’s third line tonight, thanks to his lack of offensive production over the last several games. He started on a strong note scoring six goals in the first 11 games and the goal tonight ends an eight-game scoreless drought.

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The Oilers will continue to welcome the depth scoring they received in this game and the more goals they can get from players not named McDavid and Draisaitl, the better. While both Puljujarvi and Hyman are effective players even when they don’t show up on the scoresheet, their offensive production will be crucial if the Oilers want to continue to find success this season.

Oilers Continue to Roll

Koskinen, who served as Stuart Skinner’s understudy over the last few games, got the start in this game and looked great, stopping 36 of the 38 shots he faced. He kept the Oilers in the game early on in the game, stopping some high-quality scoring chances and allowing his team to build a lead.

Related: Oilers Look to Have Their 3rd Line Centre in Ryan McLeod

The Oilers improve to 15-5-0 this season with the victory and will continue to rely heavily on their young blueliners until they can get reinforcements on the backend. The team will return home from their three-game road trip with a 2-1-0 record and get three days off before their next matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Place.

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