On Friday night, the Edmonton Oilers headed to Calgary to take on a desperate Flames team looking for some answers after an unimpressive stretch of hockey. The Oilers scored the game’s first goal, never trailed, and won 2-1. Mike Smith made 20 saves, while Jesse Puljujarvi kept his hot stretch going and Gaetan Haas lit the lamp for the first time this season.
The win pushed the Oilers to 8-2-0 in their last ten games, and has them in second place in the North Division for the time being.
Head Coach Dave Tippett, who has navigated some very good teams over the course of his career, likes the direction his team is heading. He knows this isn’t the final product, however.
“From a coaching standpoint, it shows your team is improving and moving in the right direction,” Tippett said of the win postgame on Friday night. “We looked comfortable in the 2-1 game, which is good. I liked the way we hung in there and got the win.”
After years of being able to win one way only, it’s refreshing to see each of the last three wins for the Oilers come via strong defensive play, goaltending and depth scoring. It’s something veteran Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been waiting to see since he was drafted by the club in 2011.
“We’ll definitely take the points any way that we can right now,” Nugent-Hopkins said after the win. “It probably wasn’t our prettiest win, but sometimes it’s going to go down like that and you’ve just got to grind it out. I thought Smitty and our D corps were really solid tonight, not giving them too many good opportunities.”
After a night where top scorers Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were held off the scoresheet, the Oilers can feel good knowing they were still able to come away with two massive points. Tonight, they’ll try to repeat the feat with a little more offense from their top dogs.