Post Game Recaps

Oilers Postgame: Zack Kassian – Shark Hunter Supreme

Photo Courtesy of the Edmonton Journal

Final Score: Oilers 1 – Sharks 0

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Check the pulse. Take a sip of beer. One last deep breathe. Ready to go? Let’s dig in.

That right there was PLAYOFF hockey. At several points in the year, the debate surrounding this team waged on their ability to lock it down at key points in the game, season, etc. Tonight, on the road, in a very tough building to play in, the Oilers answered the question in a big way: a playoff victory, their second of the series, to put them up 2-1, with game 4 on the slate for Tuesday.

It’s looking quite alright indeed.

Following he 1st period, things were looking a little tense in northern California. The Sharks out-shot the Oilers 13-6, out-chanced them significantly, supremely beat them in the physicality department, and left the first 20 in complete control of the game. It was as if the Sharks and Oilers had switched bodies following Friday’s tilt.

Thankfully for Edmonton, they survived that initial onslaught, and found their legs, mojo and game once the 2nd period hit. For the final 40 minutes, it was a true playoff game, with tight checking, chances on both ends of the rink, and both goaltenders making some fine stops.

Cam Talbot, playing in a remarkable manner, lead the charge throughout those final 2 frames, providing an impenetrable wall of defence that no Sharks’ attacker could beat. In front of him were a group of defencemen, who despite a hiccup here and there, largely did their job to a superb degree (yet again), keeping the home team to just 10 shots in the final 40.

On offence, due to the nature of the tight-knit game, not a lot was accomplished. The Oilers upped their forechecking levels from the 1st, but mainly did their job in terms of playing smart, controlled hockey, limiting mistakes, and locking down the Sharks.

That smart effort would pave the way to a goal by Edmonton’s newest hockey hero, Zack Kassian, in the 3rd. Zack, exploiting the five-hole weakness of Martin Jones that has been on display all series, put a backhand past the netminder that would stand as the game winner.

Overall, it was playoff hockey, executed superbly by the Oilers. Smart, controlled, tightly-checked, and opportunistic. Bring on Tuesday.

Oilers Player of the Game

None other than Cam Talbot. Make it 2 games in a row with a shutout, as he continues to be lights out for this team. He helped the team survive the 1st then proceeded to cal my execute a lock down performance for the final two frames. He is a force!

10 Takeaways

1. The Oilers still are having a bit of trouble scoring, and this goes especially for the top line. The McDavid trio has been pretty quiet all series long, leading to Drasiaitl getting moved down to centre the 3rd line tonight. This seemed to spark the top line a bit, with Slepyshev not playing bad, although he had nothing to show for his efforts. Draisaitl got his feet moving a bit with the change as well, being a contributor on the forecheck that lead to the go-ahead goal. It will be very interesting to see what McLellan does with this lineup going forward. Does Drai move back, does Slepyshev stay up? Do we see Puljujarvi?

2. David Desharnais had his best game in Oilers silks, no doubt. He was skating his ass off, forechecking hard, back checking incredibly well, and overall, being a positive presence all night long. Great to see.

3. The Refs continue to baffle me with their inconsistency. There is no real rhyme or reason to hat they call, with some questionable hits/stick work getting  a pass, while other marginal plays are whistled down.I am really hoping this improves going forward, but it is NHL officiating, so who knows.

4. Hit counters in San Jose were out to lunch a bit tonight with their inflated totals. I imagine them counting, just like this:

 

5. The Nugent-Hopkins trio didn’t score, but once again played a perfect brand of playoff hockey. All 3 members of that line are winning puck battles with extreme consistency and they are playing a huge role in the Oilers’ success.

6. Nurse had some strong moments, but also weak ones, with the biggest concern being shift length. Bruce McCurdy had a great tweet on it during the 2nd period:

7. You can tell Cam Talbot is completely locked in just in how effortless his saves looked tonight. His positioning is just unbelievable right now and he is always in a good spot to make a save. He is on top of his game.

8. I personally thought that Klefbom and Russell stood out in a big way on the backend. Klefbom played his usual 24 minutes of ice time, while Russell compiled 22 minutes.They combined for 7 hits, 9 blocked shots, and a whole lot of positive play.

9. With the win on the road, the Oilers get back the loss that they gave up on Rogers in Game 1. With that out of the way, the Oilers are back in the control seat.

10. McDavid has been held relatively quiet through 3 games, but to be fair for the Oilers, Norris-candidate Brent Burns has been held very quiet for the Sharks. He had 24 points in 24 playoff games last year, but has been held pointless in all 3 games. Depth matters, as Kassian is showcasing over the past 2.

Up Next: In San Jose, Tuesday Night

The Oilers stay in northern California for game 4 on Tuesday night. Edmonton has a terrific opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series, with game 5 back in Edmonton. Prepare yourselves!

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