Leon Draisaitl was described with a certain ‘P’ word this week. On Saturday night, he added a few more against the Calgary Flames.
Persistent, patient and potent.
There was some ‘pissy’ in the early going, too. When the Flames grabbed an early lead against his Edmonton Oilers, he slammed the bench door closed. And again, when Draisaitl was sent to the penalty box for mugging Sean Monahan. But Draisaitl and the Oilers didn’t fold. He, and they, were persistent. The big German forward remained patient, waiting for his opportunity to make a difference in the game.
His patience paid off, and he flashed how potent he is as a goal-scorer first by ringing one off the post in the third period, then with an individual effort to get to the top of the crease and beat Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom for the game-winning goal.
Draisaitl scored an empty netter, too, to help the Oilers snap a seven-game losing streak as the Calgary Flames fell 5-3 in Edmonton on Hockey Night in Canada.
There was another ‘P’ word in the mix for the Oilers, too.
With the Oilers goaltending getting the brunt of the criticism during their recent turmoil, there has been a resurgence in talk about the fact Markstrom turned down Oilers GM Ken Holland’s offer in unrestricted free agency. Instead, the netminder signed with their rival Calgary Flames.
Mikko Koskinen seemed to take it all to heart and had arguably his best outing of the season, making 44 saves for the win. He got a lot of credit from the Flames afterword.
“For whoever was complaining about the Oilers goaltending, he kept them in the game, that’s for sure,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “We had lots of opportunities to go up or change momentum and we just couldn’t put it in.”
Milan Lucic, who scored against his former squad to give the Flames a 2-0 lead in the first period, was also complimentary of the embattled Koskinen.
“He’s been getting a lot of heat,” Lucic said of Koskinen. “He came up big for them. Especially in the third period.”
Flames lacked enough finish to put Oilers away
Matthew Tkachuk, who opened the scoring, had a few great opportunities to either extend or tie the lead before the empty netter. But he was left looking to the sky for answers. He expected Koskinen to respond to the criticism he was getting but also thought the Flames should have finished better.
“He played well. It was pretty obvious with the way things were going over there he needed to have a big game and he met the challenge,” Tkachuk said.
“It’s on us, too. I had one at the end of the third that’s got to go in.”
It was a tie game heading into the third period. The Tkachuk and Lucic goals were answered by a pair of powerplay markers from Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard. Brendan Perlini scored his fourth of the year with less than two minutes left in the second period to give the Oilers the lead but Noah Hanifin responded less than a minute later with his fourth of the season.
It was Draisaitl who came through in the third with his 27th and 28th of the year.
Connor McDavid earned a pair of assists on the first-period powerplays.
“We did what we wanted,” said Sutter. “Those big guys, you make one little mistake and they’re going to come.
“They’ve got two guys that at the end of the day are going to be top five in scoring. You’ve got to really stick to a game plan and not give them those types of opportunities.”