Jesse Puljujarvi finds the range as the Edmonton Oilers down Ottawa 4-2: Game Grades

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) celebrates a goal with William Lagesson (84) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

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The Edmonton Oilers moved to 6-and-6 Tuesday with a convincing 4-2 win over Ottawa.

The score and the shot clock flattered the Senators, as the Oilers sailed out to an early and comfortable 1st Period, 3-0 lead. Edmonton then delivered a much better defensive effort (including a perfect 5-for-5 on the Penalty Kill, just 3 shots on net) to seal the victory.

But while both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl extended their points streaks, it was 2 of the Oilers’ youngest players that impressed the most on this night…Jesse Puljujarvi and Evan Bouchard.

Here’s the tale of the tape.

Edmonton Oilers Game Grades

MIKKO KOSKINEN. 7. Koskinen stopped 23 of 25, and neither puck that beat him was at all on the goaltender. Koskinen’s best save was off Evgenii Dadanov early in the 2nd. But he also made 2 other very nice saves late in the game, one off Tim Stutzle in the 2nd, another off a Nick Paul back-hand in the 3rd. At no time did the big Finn look scattered or fatigued in his crease. The rest likely did him a world of good.

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CONNOR McDAVID. 7. McDavid now has 19 points in his last 8 games, and 6 multiple point games in a row. The first helper was an assist on a nice pass to Barrie who fed it to Nurse on the 1-0, the second a beautiful neutral zone pass that set Puljujarvi loose on the break that Jesse buried. Most players who get 2 assists in a game would get a game star. But the younger guns stole a bit of the spotlight tonight. But McDavid was good. Again.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. A solid defensive effort, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ended the night +2. An effective 3:08 short-handed. Set up Barrie for a solid 1st Period chance. Won the shots for-and-against easily while he was on the ice 20-9, 69% at Even’s. But didn’t generate a shot of his own.

JESSE PULJUJARVI. 8. A terrific game on the attack. Puljujarvi’s 1st goal of the night (and the season) was a real beauty. After collecting a neutral zone feed from McDavid, Jesse went hard to the net and stopped on his own rebound, then finished with a nifty backhand to fore hand deke to make it 2-0. His 2nd goal was a sweet tip off an Evan Bouchard point shot. Part of a lovely 3-way play between he, McDavid and Bouchard which I’ll recount a little later. Did commit a late 2nd Period turnover but to his credit cleared the zone on the second effort. An excellent back-check deep in his own zone in the 3rd. Named the Game’s 1st Star and deservedly so.

DARNELL NURSE. 6. Opened the scoring with a rocket from the point on a set-up from McDavid and Barrie. A couple key zone clears with Yamamoto in the box in the 1st. A terrific intercept and zone clear early in the 2nd. A 5-alarm give-away early in the 3rd. Made up for it with an excellent zone exit under all kinds of duress late in the 3rd. 4 shots and 2 hits. Led the team at 23:36. Solid effort.

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TYSON BARRIE. 7. This is much, much closer to the D-man the Oilers thought they were signing. Barrie was shooting the puck all night (5 shots), starting with an early set-up by McDavid. Started the sequence on Puljujarvi’s 1st goal with a headman pass to 97. And was the decoy heading to the net on the Draisaitl goal. 1st Period shot block.  Named the Game’s 2nd Star. Headed in the right direction.

LEON DRAISAITL. 6. Extended his point streak to 8 games with a far-post wrister past an over-committed Ottawa goalie, all the while looking pass. Fed Barrie for a good 2nd Period look. Set up Nurse for a dangerous 3rd Period opportunity. 4 shots on net, 50/50 on his draws.

DOMENIK KAHUN. 4. 1 shot, 1 block, a 3rd Period turnover was one of 2 on the night. That’s not much alongside the reigning Hart Trophy winner.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 4. His quietest game this year. 0 shots. And he put his club on the PK twice with avoidable penalties. Lost the chances for-and-against battle pretty convincingly while on the ice.

KRIS RUSSELL. 7. Probably Kris Russell’s best game of the year so far, as the vet Shepherded young Evan Bouchard through the evening. Turned in a stellar 3:43 on the PK. And busted his ass to smartly break up a dangerous jail break led by Brady Tkachuk. Fed Bouchard to start the sequence that ended with the 4-0. An effective 2nd Period rush ended with a shot on net. Really strong possession numbers while he was on the ice, which isn’t always his strength.

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EVAN BOUCHARD. 7. A neat 1st period pinch. Started the sequence that would eventually lead to the 1-0 with a high flip to a hard-charging McDavid through the neutral zone. Earned his 1st NHL career assist on a snapshot from the point that Jesse Puljujarvi tipped home.  Started a nifty 3-way play on a one-touch pass to McDavid who did the same to spring Puljujarvi loose on another dangerous looking break. A big shot in the 3rd off a blueline feed from Russell. Nice 3rd Period clear. 4 shots in all. Named 3rd Star. To my eye, Bouchard made it a tough decision for his Coach to take him out of the lineup.

GAETAN HAAS. 6. I wasn’t sure how his energy level would be his 2nd game back from COVID protocol, but Hass looked fine. 5:42 of SHTOI on a clean sheet of PK work. Smart face-off win on a 1st Period PK deep in his own zone. Seems to be planting his flag on the Oilers Penalty Kill. 4 blocks. Just 47% on face-offs. Is he winning the 3C job? Missed a goal by a half-second of regulation time right at the end.

JOSH ARCHIBALD. 6. Extra effort and sheer will were the main features of Josh Archibald’s game tonight. An excellent late 2nd Period hit and clear. A big hit on the much bigger Erik Gudbranson in the 3rd. 3rd Period steal and clear. A perfect 5:42 on the PK, where he really shone. Gives you everything he’s got.

ZACK KASSIAN. 5. Failed to get the puck deep on a 1st Period sortie. But got much stronger as the night went on as Kassian seemed to have a chip on his shoulder tonight (led the team with 6 hits). A good stick to help clear the zone in the 3rd. Got his nose dirty at the end in the middle of a melee in front of the Ottawa bench. If you ask me…that’s a good sign for Kass.

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WILLIAM LAGESSON. 6. Advertised as a guy who battles hard in his own zone and lived up to it tonight. A hard-nosed exit while under pressure in the 1st. Then reprised that effort by winning a hard-fought battle with Yamamoto in the box, as Lagesson helped clear the zone again. A block and +1 in limited work (8:53). But he certainly made the most of it.

ADAM LARSSON. 6. Battled hard. But while it didn’t often come easy tonight the veteran gutted out a solid enough performance in 20:22. Larsson had 5 blocks and 3 hits plus an impressive 5:56 short handed. A very good 3rd period read and clear. Also had a couple give-away’s, but there was more good than bad.

KYLE TURRIS. 3. A very quiet game. A didn’t love the penalty Turris took but his mates bailed him out. Did turn in a decent 1:23 on the PK. 1 hit. If he’s not careful, he’ll play his way into the press box for a game.

ALEX CHIASSON. 5. Won a key puck battle to clear the zone in the 2nd. A 3rd period steal. And the puck was regularly headed toward the opposition net during his 9:51 (CF10-4, 71% EV).

SLATER KOEKKOEK. 4. Played 8:09, and not much came easy for him in that time. Did offer a solid D-zone stick in the 3rd, and a couple shot blocks. But he was “just o.k.”.

The victory draws the Oilers into a playoff spot, 4th spot in the North with 12 points and a game in hand on the Canucks.

Next up? Some rest (12 games in 21 days) and practice, before the Flames on Saturday.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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