It’s kind of fitting that a game between Ken Hitchcock’s current team and one of his former teams ended up being a close, low-scoring contest that was mostly dominated by defense and goaltending.
Just the way he no doubt wanted it to be.
In the end, it was his current team, the Edmonton Oilers, earning a 3-2 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues to pick up a huge two points in the standings to inch closer to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Oilers were able to rebound from a miserable first period that saw them give up two early goals and get badly outshot to pick up yet another one-goal win.
Things looked bleak for the Oilers for most of the night as they seemed unable to really mount any sort of a sustained attack against the Blues’ defense. That was until defender Oscar Klefbom scored the game-tying goal with just 56 seconds to play.
After neither team scored in overtime the Oilers were able to gain the extra point in the shootout thanks to goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who also scored during regulation) and Connor McDavid.
McDavid also picked up the primary assist on Klefbom’s game-tying goal at the end of regulation.
The Oilers are now 5-2-1 under Hitchcock while this game continued a lot of recent trends for them.
First, this win improved the Oilers’ record in one-goal games this season to an incredible 10-1-2. It is remarkable that a team can have that much luck in so many one-goal games and still have the overall record they do for the season. Usually when a team has that much success in close games it helps push them toward the top of the standings. But the Oilers have been so bad in every other game that they are still on the playoff bubble, and for now, on the outside looking in.
It was also another night where Hitchcock absolutely ran McDavid and Leon Draisaitl into the ground. They each played more than 28 minutes and are still seeing their ice-time spike since Hitchcock took over behind the bench. He said early on he wanted to take advantage of McDavid’s ability to quickly recover on the bench, and he has absolutely done that so far.
The Blues, meanwhile, continued what has been an absolutely dreadful stretch of hockey during an absolutely dreadful season. This loss comes after they were crushed by the Arizona Coyotes in their most recent game, and gives them their ninth loss in their past 12 games.
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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.