4 Takeaways From Oilers’ Game 5 vs. Golden Knights

This wasn’t supposed to be the way that Game 5 ended. After coming out to a quick start due to their power play (once again) the Edmonton Oilers gave up three goals in the second period en route to a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Related: Takeaways From Oilers’ Game 4 Heated Win vs. Golden Knights

The Oilers are down 3-2 in the series heading back to Rogers Place in Edmonton, hopeful to even up the series on Sunday. Many adjustments will need to be made in order to make that happen for the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs.

Oilers’ Power Play Remains Lethal

All three Game 5 goals for the Oilers came from the power play, two in the first period and one in the third. Connor McDavid opened and closed the scoring for the game. The Oilers converted on 75 percent of their power-play opportunities as they had a fourth power play that they did not score on.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers have the highest power-play percentage in the playoffs with a 47.4 percent conversion rate. The next highest is the Dallas Stars with 32.4 percent. The common refrain this series is the potency of the power play, which is a good tool to have in your pocket. Seven of the 17 goals that the Oilers have scored in this series have been at even strength. So, 59 percent of the Oilers’ offence has been generated from their power play.

Golden Knights’ 90-Second Takeover

The Golden Knights pushed back in a big way in the second period, forcing the Oilers to play on their heels. Within 90 seconds the Golden Knights had put three goals past Stuart Skinner and taken a 3-2 lead in the very important Game 5. A big reason for that was that the Golden Knights had countered with their own power-play goals.

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Two of the three second-period goals for the Golden Knights came with the man advantage. The first penalty was called on Philip Broberg for holding on Jack Eichel. That call was a bit suspect, but the referee who called it didn’t see the play from the angle that television viewers got to see. A replay showed that Eichel was actually holding Broberg’s stick. That call swayed momentum and the Golden Knights continued to put the pressure on after.

Nurse-Less Blue Line

One of the biggest questions going into the contest was to see how the blue line would shake out for both teams. Darnell Nurse and Alex Pietrangelo both received one game suspensions for their actions in Game 4 of this series. The ripple effect on the blue line is one that arguably affected the Oilers more than the Golden Knights.

  • Mattias Ekholm 26:51
  • Evan Bouchard 27:21
  • Cody Ceci 18:38
  • Brett Kulak 20:15
  • Vincent Desharnais 14:40
  • Philip Broberg 6:01

All of the minutes that would have gone to Nurse were essentially split between Ekholm, Bouchard and Desharnais. In these fast-paced playoff games, I don’t believe it’s wise to play Desharnais more than the quicker and better puck-moving alternative in Broberg. Desharnais does get ice time on the penalty kill, tallying up 5:02 in Game 5. Nurse kills penalties as well, so those minutes had to go to someone else. Regardless, with Nurse back in the mix for Game 6, I would play Broberg more than Desharnais. The speed and puck-moving ability is sorely needed to strengthen the Oilers’ third pairing.

Skinner Will Rebound Next Game

For the second time in this Round 2 series against the Golden Knights, Skinner was replaced with Jack Campbell during the game. Skinner had stopped 18 of 22 shots against him. Campbell came in and closed the door, stopping all nine shots that he faced. He has been pulled three times during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Every time he is pulled, he plays the next game and wins. I would not expect Campbell to start next game, as I think Jay Woodcroft and his staff will want to give Skinner the opportunity for a rebound game.

Stuart Skinner Edmonton Oilers
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Game 6 is set for Sunday as the Oilers will look to tie up the series on home ice. They will need to score more at even strength, play a consistent 60 minutes, adjust their blue line and get a rebound performance from Skinner in order to keep their playoff run going.

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