The Edmonton Oilers were in the thick of a four-game losing skid entering their game against Chicago Thursday. However, they returned to their winning ways with a strong 2-1 overtime win that showcased a lot of improvement.
After Patrick Kane scored on an awkward play in the opening minutes of the first period, the Oilers generated a lot of scoring chances, and near the end of the first, Connor McDavid used his speed to take the puck from Kailer Yamamoto up ice. As he pushed and skated his way through an army of Blackhawks defenders, he made a quick pass to Patrick Maroon, who basically had an open net. The game would remain scoreless until McDavid drew a penalty in overtime, which led to an OT winner from Mark Letestu.
The entire game showed a lot more improvement from Edmonton, and here is everything to take away from the victory.
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First off, the most powerful, dominant unit on the ice was, of course, the top line. The Maroon-McDavid-Yamamoto line posed a huge threat for the entirety of the game. The trio combined for an impressive 13 shots, with eight of those coming from Yamamoto alone. And, in all honesty, he was perhaps one of the most excellent players of the game.
Not only did he add his third assist of the year, but he made himself dominant on the ice and created a number of scoring chances. He also had a couple of good looks on net and gave great effort, and even came close to scoring his first NHL goal on a breakaway chance. Ultimately, his speed, intelligence and overall ability were on display Thursday, and he is making a case to stay with Edmonton for much longer than once thought.
McDavid also again proved that he is one of the best players in the league, and in time, he will likely dominate as the league’s top player. His speed is unparalleled, and he created a number of chances and was very good with the puck. He also drew a key penalty in overtime and picked up two assists. Overall, his effort and playmaking ability go beyond that of the normal hockey player; it is revolutionary.
Letestu and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had very strong games on the forward lines, and even Brad Malone stood out. He finished with four shots on goal and got quite a few good looks.
As an entire unit, the defence corps cleaned up nicely and showed genuine improvement from their performance over the last few games. They seemed to communicate better and make stronger decisions and also appeared more aggressive and physical on the backcheck. Not only that, they were much more careful with the puck and blocked plenty of shots.
Oscar Klefbom was the best blueliner on the ice; not only was he blocking shots left and right, but he led all skaters with over 26 minutes of ice time, and also contributed a lot on offence. He took a lot of shots and in the end, added an assist on Mark Letestu’s overtime winner.
Cam Talbot seemed to return to his starter form, stopping 30 of 31 shots. He remained confident and poised between the pipes, and also seemed much more collected and quick than he had been in previous games. Not only that, he came up big at critical times and was able to shut down the Blackhawks’ biggest threats in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and company.
In the end, Edmonton was outstanding in their victory over Chicago, and hopefully, they can carry this energy over into their coming games and keep up the effort.