Breadcrumb Trail Links
And after stopping all 25 shots he faced Friday, Stuart Skinner may indeed be ready to shoulder the lion’s share of the load here in his sophomore season
In the heart of the U.S. on the American Thanksgiving long weekend, the Edmonton Oilers finally came up with something to be thankful for Friday.
Whether it was the eventuality of the odds catching up with the Oilers (6-12-1), or a case of tryptophan working against the Washington Capitals (10-5-2), Edmonton put on a clinic at Capital One Arena to come up with a 5-0 shutout.
The Capitals came into the game 9-1-1 in their last 11, including five consecutive wins, while the Oilers limped into the final game of a four-game road stretch on a three-game losing skid after having won their previous three in a row.
Here’s how it went down Friday:
1. ROAD IS WHERE THE HURT IS
Things haven’t been going great anywhere this year, but away games have been particularly difficult on the Oilers.
They came into Capital One Arena in downtown Washington with a 2-8-0 record on the road, after setting a franchise record 27 wins on the road a year ago.
Big guns, power play come to life as Edmonton Oilers wallop Washington
OILERS NOTES: Darnell Nurse ‘a warrior’ in returning to ice after taking puck off his face
They scored 3.00 goals a game, while allowing 4.70 goals against, while their power play was just 19.4 per cent, and the penalty kill was 72.5 per cent.
But you wouldn’t have known it Friday.
2. FINDING FAST STARTS
For the third time in four games on this Eastern Conference road trip, the Oilers jumped to a quick 2-0 lead. And for the first time in that span, they managed to hold onto it.
Edmonton went ahead 1-0 when Evander Kane got in front of the net and the inside position on Capitals defenceman Alexander Alexeyev, and then got out his shovel and took a couple digs at the puck before it went in.
Then, after a Connor McDavid wraparound attempt was deflected sky high, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stood at the mouth of the crease like it was home plate, waiting for the puck to come back down to crossbar height to avoid the high-stick call before expertly batting it home.
“I grew up playing a bit of baseball, my dad’s sport was definitely baseball, but it’s been a while,” Nugent-Hopkins told Sportsnet’s Gene Principe in the intermission. “Obviously, you want to whack it right away, but I tried to wait.
“I wasn’t sure I waited long enough, but definitely lucky it went in.”
3. COOL UNDER PRESSURE
In a season where everything is going wrong, the Oilers were reminded cooler heads prevail Friday, when the first period drew to a close.
As the buzzer sounded on a 2-0 Oilers lead after 20 minutes, Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin received a double-minor for crosschecking to the face while jousting with Oilers defenceman Vincent Desharnais.
But maybe the Oilers should have looked to become the culprits, considering the Caps came in with the worst power play in the league this season, going just 3-for-45.
Edmonton didn’t have any trouble on the man-advantage with two power-play goals in 64 seconds Friday. Evan Bouchard made it 3-0 on a point shot on the power play early in the second, while an unsportsmanlike penalty against Washington put them right back out on the ice at five-on-four, where Leon Draisaitl spun a short McDavid pass in the slot into a 4-0 lead 25 minutes in.
4. MORE POWER
Edmonton’s power play finished 3-for-4, with Draisaitl scoring another late in the second period to make it 5-0.
It was the closest it’s come all season to looking anything remotely like last year’s NHL-record-setting 32.36 per cent clip that powered Edmonton to a 109-point finish.
Edmonton came into Friday’s game with a 21.88 per cent success rate on the power play, good enough for 12th overall, having connected on 14 of 64 opportunities. They now sit at 17 of 68 for a respectable 25.00 per cent, while the penalty kill stymied all five of Washington’s attempts on the man advantage.
5. SKINNER’S A WINNER
It’s been a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of start to the season for Stuart Skinner, who, as it stands, is the goalie of the future for the Oilers, who they also need right now.
And after stopping all 25 shots he faced Friday, Skinner may indeed be ready to shoulder the lion’s share of the load here in his sophomore season. Or, this one was a fluke as he came up with Edmonton’s first shutout of the season.
Skinner has shown he has the ability to string together impressive numbers, even with all that’s going on this season, having looked as good as any goalie in the league during his recent three-game win streak. Of course, there is a flip side to it all that has seen him follow up with the three-game losing skid that followed. But he put an end to that, and in style, Friday.
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
Share this article in your social network