The Edmonton Oilers are on one of their most significant road trips of the season, with the first four of the five games being against division foes. On Sunday, they were in Arizona for the second game of a back-to-back; the night before, they notched an impressive win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Edmonton came in with a three-point lead over the Coyotes in the Pacific. A regulation loss would have pulled the Yotes to a point behind and placed the Oilers at further risk of sliding down the standings in a tightening division race. They needed at least a point in this matchup — they got that and more.
With Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid scoring yet again, and with all four lines turning in standout performances with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sidelined, Edmonton emerged with a 4-3 shootout victory to extend their division lead to four (Arizona earned a point with the overtime loss).
Here are three reasons the Oilers won despite trailing after two periods.
Power play on point with the help of James Neal
Though Neal isn’t producing at the same rate as he was at the start of the season, the 36-year-old winger is still one of the team’s most impressive scorers and a fundamental part of Edmonton’s power play.
The Oilers found themselves with the man advantage just 1:41 into the opening frame, and they quickly made it count thanks to Neal. Working in tandem with Draisaitl and McDavid, he got to the right place and camped out in front of the net, where he was able to tip in a pass from Draisaitl just 24 seconds into the power play to give Edmonton an early 1-0 lead.
The goal was Neal’s 13th of the year, and the Oilers’ power play improved to 31.5 percent for the season, second in the league behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Edmonton will look like a true playoff team if it’s able to maintain that type of production.
Markus Granlund stays hot
It’s important to have secondary scoring, and Granlund has been providing it more and more.
The Finn rose to the occasion again in the third period with the Oilers down by a goal. He used his speed and vision to chase his own rebound and score on his second attempt, knocking the puck past Darcy Kuemper to tie the game 3-3.
The goal was Granlund’s third in four games as he continues to prove his worth as a lineup staple and, potentially, a consistent third-line winger.
Alex Chiasson finds twine
Chaisson’s season hasn’t gone the way many expected it would. After registering a career-high 22 goals and 38 points last season as Edmonton’s first-line winger, he had just a goal and five points in 21 games this season prior to Sunday.
He was able to contribute against the Coyotes, however, with a second-period goal that gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead. The tally spoke to his skill as he fired home a quick, accurate one-timer off a pass from Sam Gagner.
Chiasson ended a six-game scoring drought with the tally and made a case that he can step up in the wake of injuries to players like Nugent-Hopkins and make the most out of more ice time.
The Oilers are 3-1-0 on the road trip after Sunday’s win. They’ll finish it Wednesday when they take on the Colorado Avalanche at 10 p.m. ET.
Source: Read Full Article