Takeaway Oilers vs. Senators: It is 1980s evening in Edmonton
The Oilers played on Sunday just like they did in the Stanley Cup days of the franchise. They scored five goals in the first period and three more in the second, rolling the final Senators 8-5 at Edmonton.
In addition to Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, some of the current Oilers have even mentioned their names with their appearances:
– Leon Draisaitl made six assists, one of them behind the NHL record that Gretzky shares with Billy Taylor. (Gretzky had seven helpers three times.)
– Dominik Kahun broke Gretzky’s franchise record by eight seconds.
– Connor McDavid had five points (goal, four assists), his second night in a row with three plus points. Messier was the last Edmonton player to achieve this feat in 1990, according to the NHL.
Of greater importance to today’s group: the win put them in fourth place in the north with the Jets who have played three games less. It will begin its February plan with another home game against the Senators on Tuesday.
Three more lessons learned from the win:
The power play finds a spark
Edmonton (5-6-0) averaged just three goals per game, so eight was more than enough to keep people happy. Better still for the Oilers, half of the eight tallies had the man advantage. The 4v5 performance was a big boost for a special unit that was in the middle of the league with 21.6 percent before Sunday.
Draisaitl and coach Dave Tippett were both asked after the game if the unit needed to adjust to the new point man Tyson Barrie, a right-handed defender who replaced left-handed D-man Oscar Klefbom, who is out for the season with a shoulder problem.
“It looks different, doesn’t it?” Said Draisaitl. “We’ve had this power play unit together for so long, so many years, and you have a new man who brings different things to the table, another player, so it just takes a little sometimes.”
“I think Tyse did a great job adjusting and understanding the way we want to play in the power game,” Draisaitl later added. “Yes, he was a great help to us.”
“If you put a right-handed in there, the look changed. It took some time, but Tyson’s game, the last two games I think are the best games he’s played,” said Tippett. “He’s starting to move in the right direction, the dynamic player we were hoping for. So he played better, our power play is becoming more comfortable and we’ve got some results.”
The porous defense dampens the night
The five goals conceded were also reminiscent of the Oilers’ title teams, and that is what the 21-man squad will try to clean up before Tuesday.
“If you give up five, it won’t hurt most nights, of course,” said Draisaitl. “Good start and then we scored enough goals to win. But we obviously want to get a lot closer in the next game.”
Welcome to the NHL, Stuart Skinner
Skinner had to deal with defensive failures but also made his NHL debut with his hometown team, playing in a game for the first time in more than 11 months. The 22-year-old from Edmonton made 33 saves in 38 shots. He allowed three goals in the first and two more in the third, but the offense gave him enough room to breathe.
“It definitely helps when you’re five years old or how many we were then,” he said. “Somehow you can get your feet under you and take a few deep breaths and settle in.”
Skinner’s last game before Sunday was March 6, 2020 for the AHL subsidiary of Oilers in Bakersfield, California. The AHL stopped its season days later amid the coronavirus pandemic.