With the Oilers finally playing like a unit, it’s time to carry that momentum back home

Game coverage - recap

LAS VEGAS — The beauty of it was that it wasn’t a runaway. 

This wasn’t Connor and Leon and a puff of cartoon smoke, two superstars providing the points while everyone else had a front row seat. 

This win took everyone, and every man left feeling like they were part of it. The Edmonton Oilers walked into one of the fiercest buildings in the National Hockey League, on game two of a back-to-back, and knocked off the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights by a 4-3 score. 

As a second half team wades into the second half of its schedule, this win — Edmonton’s third straight on this road trip — sewed more belief than any game they have won since the Christmas break. 

“I think we’re finding our game a little bit,” said the two-goal man Draisaitl, whose cold snap has officially ended with four in his last three games. “We’re finding our identity as a team, and I think guys individually are starting to slot into where they’re most successful. That goes a long way.” 

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“Just maturing,” said Zach Hyman, who spent the evening on the top line with No’s 97 and 29. “I think it was probably our best third period to close out a game. We didn’t sit back — we were pressing, we were defending well, we were breaking out well… That’s encouraging for sure. Especially against a really good team that was pushing hard.” 

In front of a full house at T-Mobile Arena, dotted with a few hundred thirsty and ferocious Oilers fans, it’s hard to say which part of the visitor’s game was most impressive. 

The 2-0 lead inside the opening 102 seconds, provided by Mattias Janmark and Draisaitl? The 4-2 goal by Klim Kostin, coming just 18 seconds after the Golden Knights had made it a 3-2 game, dousing any momentum that Vegas had earned? 

Was it the fact that there wasn’t a goal scored on special teams by either club? Or was it that the third period began with the score at 4-3 for Edmonton, and ended the same way? 

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“Without being under siege, and without taking your foot off the gas. We just played our game in that third period,” added head coach Jay Woodcroft. “I thought that was a really competitive entertaining hockey game. And for the most part, I thought we controlled most of that game.” 

You know you are into the part of the season where things are getting serious when you watch a team playing it’s third road game in four nights dig in the way Edmonton did, while the opponent — ambushed with an early 2-0 deficit — pulls up their socks and gives as good as it gets for the final 58 minutes. 

This was the most competitive and entertaining game the Oilers have played all season, a sign that we’ve reached the moment where… Well, we’ll let Janmark say it: 

“This part of the year for us is where either we go down, or we start climbing. And if we’re going to climb we’re going to have to string wins together and beat teams like this, in buildings like this,” the veteran Swede said. “And it’s not just today. It’s got to keep going here.” 

This road trip began with a 6-3 loss in Los Angeles, followed by wins over two teams in Anaheim and San Jose that — if you believe yourself to be a contender — you simply have to defeat in regulation. 

Those two wins engaged the entire Oilers lineup. Edmonton got goals from everyone — 13 in two games — excellent goaltending from Jack Campbell in all three road wins, and found a defensive game that stood up on a Saturday night against an elite club that was rested and playing at home. 

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“It’s been extremely important to get everybody involved,” Hyman said. “It just makes the team come together, when everybody’s contributing. You feel good for everybody and there’s just a real positive around the room. 

“So just a great final three games of the trip for us to get things going, And now we’re going back home where we’ve got to figure it out.” 

Edmonton’s biggest wins of the season have all come on the road, in buildings much like T-Mobile. 

They won a game in Dallas. They won in Tampa. They won twice in Calgary, and have a road record to be proud of, at 14-7-1. 

But they’re 10-11-2 at home, and with Seattle and Tampa coming in this week, then two also-rans in Columbus and Chicago visiting at the end of the month, it’s more than high time to see the level of hockey that was played in Vegas back home at Rogers Place. 

“The record at home? It’s time,” Woodcroft said. “Everybody knows that.” 

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