Player grades: Koskinen, Draisaitl and hard-working Edmonton Oilers gut out 3-2 win over Vancouver Canucks – Edmonton Journal

Player grades: Koskinen, Draisaitl and hard-working Edmonton Oilers gut out 3-2 win over Vancouver Canucks - Edmonton Journal
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Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett shook the box, came up with a bunch of new lines and it paid off. Tippett’s new look Oilers charged at the Vancouver Canucks in forechecking wave after wave, earning a 3-2 victory in a crucial bounce back game.

After getting clobbered by the keen Canucks in Edmonton on Saturday night, Edmonton needed a win and got it thanks to hard and smart work all around, Mikko Koskinen’s stellar goaltending and two ripper shots by Leon Draisaitl.

The Oilers have recalled Stuart Skinner from the Bakersfield Condors on an emergency basis to backup starter Mikko Koskinen Sunday. The 21-year-old has a 7-5-2 record with a 3.23 GAA and a .890 save percentage in 15 games with Bakersfield.

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The Oilers’ effort was highlighted by an outstanding third period where a stifling Edmonton check contained Vancouver and its many deft attacking aces. Edmonton did not give up even one Grade A chance to Vancouver in the final period.

Smith was in goal for Edmonton in their loss to Vancouver Saturday and allowed five goals on 43 shots. In 15 games this season the 37-year-old has a 7-7-1 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Connor McDavid, 8. He had his feet going at rocket speed this game. His hard rush up the ice got Edmonton moving on its first Grade A chance, a Nurse slot shot. A second later, McD swooped onto the puck, drove the net, and flipped the puck back to Nurse at the point, who set up Archibald for the first goal of the game. McD also made two solid back checks in the first, first breaking up a dangerous pass to Quinn Hughes, then not allowing Loui Eriksson to get off a slot shot. He made a great feed to Draisaitl on Drai’s second-period one-timer. A great game from an outstanding player.

In other Oilers news, forward Zack Kassian is also day-to-day with a back injury and Kris Russell won’t be available Sunday due to the the birth of his second child.

Josh Archibald, 7. He combined well on the rush with McDavid and Neal to set up Nurse on Edmonton’s first Grade A shot, then got his first goal of the year, a redirected tip off a Nurse shot pass. He got off another dangerous shot in the third off of a Bear feed. But Arch failed to get the puck on net when James Neal sent him in alone a moment later. No one will confuse him with Glenn Anderson, but a good game for Archibald.

Zack Kassian (back) is day-to-day & won't play tonight, while Kris Russell has left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

James Neal, 8. He looked to have some chemistry with McDavid and worked many good plays throughout the game. Neal’s pass to set up Leon Draisaitl for a goal early in the third was nothing short of brilliant — and the kind of play we never saw from Milan Lucic during his entire time in Edmonton. In the third, Neal also executed a swell pass-and-screen to help create a Grade A chance for McDavid. He played 20:26 and looked good almost every second, not bad for an old man NHLer.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith is day-to-day with a leg injury and won’t be in the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday.

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Alex Chiasson, 6. A workman-like effort. He was slow to cover off a passing lane in the first, leading to Brock Boeser’s goal. But he was part of the sublime passing play with McDavid and Neal that led up to Draisaitl’s second goal of the game.

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Joakim Nygard, 6. Flashed his speed, looked OK. He got a near breakaway in the third period, but was hooked and held off the puck. That should have been a penalty. A moment later, he got off a dangerous slot shot off a Chiasson feed.

Riley Sheahan, 5. Sheahan’s line had a few good moments forechecking and Sheahan was excellent on the PK, but the line also had one really bad play. Late in the first, Sheahan lost a hard battle to J.T. Miller who put it cross-seam, leading to a Vancouver goal. Not good when your job description is “defensive centre.”

Leon Draisaitl, 7. At even strength his line was weak, but Draisaitl was a beast on the power play. He got caught wandering in the Red Light Zone, puck-watching and covering no one in the slot on Vancouver’s second goal. A bad bad, bad mental error. He made up for it a moment later, executing what is surely one of the NHL’s deadliest plays, his off-wing one-timer blast from the right circle off a cross-seam feed. That shot goes in about one third of the time. Drai again cashed in with the same shot from the same spot off a massive James Neal feed early in the third.

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Jujhar Khaira, 5. He had one of those iffy games where his feet and hands weren’t working fast or hard enough. He lost a couple of battles early in the first that were part of the sequences of pain on two quick Grade A shots for Vancouver, one a one-timer, the other a slot tip, both saved by Koskinen. Some poor passes in the second period that went astray. He picked it up in the third.

“It wasnt a very good first period and we were getting at least some offensive zone time in the second period. But ultimately you give up five you cant win in this league. Were giving up too many goals right now and its costing us,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett.

Sam Gagner, 5. He didn’t do much to get noticed and that’s not so good for a forward.  But this was a total team effort, so everyone gets a passing grade, even Khaira and Gagner. They were part of a solid team-wide third period checking scheme.

After a flurry of chances by the Oilers that were denied by Markstrom, Vancouver struck twice in a span of 4:17 as Pearson scored his second of the game and Eriksson would tally his first goal of the season on a backhand feed from Horvat to give Vancouver a 4-2 lead.

Gaetan Haas, 7. He was flying out there. In the first, he and Markus Granlund went hard to the net, causing enough trouble for the puck to spring to Patrick Russell, who slammed it in, but the goal was (correctly) called off for goalie interference. The Haas line had a few more great shifts in the second and third on the forecheck, beating the Canucks to many pucks.

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Markus Granlund, 7. He was a fast, hustling, and effective part of a fast, hustling and effective line.

Pearson scored twice, and added two assists, while Tyler Graovac, Loui Eriksson and Josh Leivo tallied the other markers for the Canucks. Captain Bo Horvat also chipped in with three assists to help Vancouver snap its three-game losing streak.

Darnell Nurse, 7. Heads up feed to Archibald on the first goal. Made numerous solid defensive plays all night. Led the team playing 26:58.

Ethan Bear, 7. Another super, duper solid game, highlighted by smart passing and solid defensive play. His strong pinch down the boards kicked off the virtuous cycle that eventually led to Josh Archibald’s tipped goal. But Bear failed to tie up Brock Boeser in the slot on Vancouver’s first goal.

Oscar Klefbom, 8. He was so strong all game long, bringing the “A” game that has him earning so much praise this year. He made two solid plays, an outside shot on net and a battle won in the slot, leading up to Russell’s called off goal. Klefbom also made several strong pinches and stops at the offensive blueline in the second period. Every time he was on the ice, the game seemed to go Edmonton’s way.

“Were just playing a little loose right now, looser than Id like and chasing the game and we dont have the same commitment to defending. We have to have the same mindset to defend a little better.”

Adam Larsson, 7. He looked more settled this time, paired up with his old partner, the elegant Klefbom. As the game went on, Larss got stronger, looking more like the Larsson of 2017, a valuable contributor. He played 22:28 of hardcore hockey. In the first, he failed to get his feet moving — an issue with Larsson right now — and thus failed to clear the puck on an early penalty kill even as he had full and unmolested possession. But he also blocked a wicked Brock Boeser one-timer later in that same kill.

This rivalry goes back to the early part of the decade and the Ontario Hockey League when Horvat was in London and McDavid was in Erie. In a perfect world, the Canucks would mix things up, sending Jay Beagle or Brandon Sutter out for a couple of shifts against McDavid. As it is, both players are injured which means the tough assignment falls to Horvat to contain the best player in the world.

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Caleb Jones, 6. Some solid puck-moving early the first period. He got beat in the slot on a Josh Leivo Grade A chance in the second. He got benched in the third with the Oil needing a win, but was solid up until then.

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Matt Benning, 6. He and Nurse got beat up the middle on a Vancouver power play break by J.T. Miller in the first, though Miller’s shot missed the net. He blocked a nasty Leivo shot late in the first period, felling him. When he came back in the second period, he and Jones got beat on Miller’s break in, but not Koskinen. Benning totally missed his check on the Vancouver forward. Half-way through the second he again got hurt, blocking Boeser’s rifle shot. That knocked him out of the game yet again.

The Canucks are playing their seventh game in 13 days. It’s also their first game after a six-game roadie that ended in Edmonton on Saturday night. Going into that game, they’d fallen out of a playoff spot for the first time in six weeks. They need a response.

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Mikko Koskinen, 8. Koss the Boss. When the Oilers were iffy and off in their d-zone play, Koskinen came up with a number of big saves on Grade A and Grade B shots in the first two periods, including thwarting Miller on a breakaway.

There’s more to the Oilers than McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they’re also one-two in the league in scoring. “You don’t keep those guys off the scoreboard many nights but you try to contain them,” said Canucks’ coach Travis Green.

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EDMONTON — A video purportedly showing spectators getting into a scuffle at Saturdays Oilers vs. Canucks game has prompted some debate online.

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TSN Canucks reporter Jeff Paterson said he took the video at Rogers Place after hearing commotion below the press box.

His video shows a man wearing a Connor McDavid jersey crossing a row of seats, while other spectators pull and tug each others jerseys.

Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter skated in Edmonton on Friday and Saturday and are close to rejoining the team. Green didn’t rule out Sutter playing in tonight’s game although that seems like a stretch.

I saw the build up. Didnt record it. No question there was some taunting going on. Sort of fizzled after the video, didnt it. Just liked the action shot of McDavid coming over three rows!

Still, the Canucks need their veteran presence and defensive consciousness in the lineup. For the Oilers, former Canuck Sam Gagner slides into the second-line centre role for the injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

A spokesperson with the Oilers Entertainment Group said security arrived within minutes of the incident occurring, and that some guests were evicted from the building—but did not clarify whether the brawlers recorded in the video were among those kicked out.

Is there more to this story? Wed like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected]

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However, some commenters on Patersons video said theyve seen similar situations, and expressed concern about security and fan behaviour in the arena.

"We do see, from time to time, crowds that are more rambunctious and active when we play Canadian or division rival teams. As you know, our market is passionate about hockey and about the Oilers," the OEGs Tim Shipton wrote in a statement.

According to Shipton, all activities are reported through a single event command centre, which designates resources as response is needed. Personnel also use extensive CCTV throughout the building for monitoring purposes, and are prepared to collaborate with the Edmonton Police Service when added, Shipton added.

"Rogers Place first priority is a safe and enjoyable experience for our guests. Our guest experience and security staff are experienced with engaging all types of crowds and acting quickly," he said.

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Fans in the stands at Nov. 30s Oilers vs. Canucks game were recorded getting into a brawl at Rogers Place. (Courtesy: Jeff Paterson)