On a night of many candidates, we just about settle on the best three Oilers players in a game where the Hurricanes never really had a chance.
Entering Wednesday night, the Oilers faced a tough challenge versus the Hurricanes. This was a team doing well in the Eastern Conference and had beaten them 6-3 last time out, in a game which wasn’t as close as the final scoreline suggested.
However, any potential nerves were quickly dealt with, as the Oilers found themselves up 2-0 after exactly 41 seconds of action. The two goals represented the second-fastest scoring start to a game in team history.
After that there was no looking back, as the Oilers went 4-0 up by the end of the first period, and coasted the rest of the way. (At least as much as you can do in a game as physical and demanding as hockey.) Let’s get to our three studs, from a contest which saw the Oilers extend their winning streak to a season-high five games:
3) Mattias Janmark
It’s been a tough season so far for Mattias Janmark. Usually good for 20+ points per season, he had none in first 10 games of 2023-24, in many ways representing the offensive shortcomings of the bottom six for the Oilers.
Also renowned as one of the best defensive forwards on the team, Janmark had struggled in this area too. In fairness to him though, he was compromised to a certain extent by missing 10 games with a shoulder injury.
Interestingly, the 2013 third round draft pick’s first game back had been versus this very same Hurricanes team. And while the 6-3 loss wasn’t on him per se, he still played his part with a -2 plus/minus rating, although it’s tough to get rolling right away when you’ve just returned from injury.
Since then however, as the Oilers have rolled, so has Janmark. After zero production in his first 10 games of the season, he had a point in the two contests prior to Wednesday night.
Against the Hurricanes, the 30-year-old took his game to another level with his best effort of the season. This was highlighted by the first three-assist game of his NHL career.
This included two primary helpers, the second of which really summed up what Janmark’s all about. He put his body on the line to block a shot, which set up Warren Foegele for a beautiful break and finish.
Postgame, the Sweden native discussed how he dealt with his recent adversity, to rebound with his first NHL three-assist game. Speaking to the media, he said:
"“It’s funny how it works. I think that’s kind of the player I am (capable of being) and when you go through stretches where you don’t score, that’s where you tell yourself you’ve got to do the little things, and the points will even out at the end of the year. I think that’s kind of what you saw tonight.”"