Player grades: Stuart Skinner sensational, Oilers squeak by Seattle

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Oilers 2, Kraken 1

Give the Seattle Kraken some credit, they brought their A game on Saturday afternoon. Fighting desperately for their playoff relevance, the home club played 60 hard minutes and battled to the very last tick of the clock.

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But let’s give the Edmonton Oilers some credit as well. The visitors hung around long enough to score the game’s first goal at the midway point of the second, then its second midway through the third. Those 2 tallies, a decent team effort and some flat out brilliant netminding from Stu Skinner were just enough for the Oil to eke out a 2-1 win in regulation.

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While shots on net were close at 25-24 Seattle, the Kraken had the edge in territorial play with 63 shot attempts to 52. Our video analysis at the Cult of Hockey had the hosts with a significant advantage in Grade A shots at 17-10, including 7-3 in the most dangerous, 5-alarm shots (running count). Skinner was fully deserving of first star honours.

With the win, the Oilers finally moved 1 point ahead of Vegas for second place in the Pacific, and retained their 5 games in hand after the Golden Knights’ subsequent 7-2 loss in Buffalo.

Player grades

Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 6. A quiet game offensively, but more importantly, a quiet game defensively as well. Played 20 minutes at even strength during which time the Kraken managed just 3 shots on net compared to Edmonton’s 10. Kept things tidy for the most part, including an excellent defensive play to cut off a Yanni Gourde rush. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strenth +1/-0; Special Teams +0/-0.

 #5 Cody Ceci, 6. Edmonton’s second pairing spent a little more time in their own zone, but Ceci played a strong positional game and did a reasonable job suppressing dangerous shots. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-0.

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#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Played 10 quiet minutes, kept things tindy for the most part. 1 shot, 1 block, 1 hit, 3/5=60% on the faceoff dot. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-1.

#13 Mattias Janmark, 6. Had a strong game offensively, firing 2 dangerous shots on goal and contributing to 2 more with excellent passes to streaking teammates in the neutral zone. Made a key shot block. Excellent along the boards in his own zone. Unable to cut out a seam pass on Seattle’s lone goal, scored on the powerplay. GAS: ES +4/-1; ST +0/-1.

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 6. Like his partner Bouchard, kept the play moving in the right direction, with Oilers enjoying a 7-2 shot share during his 18 even strength minutes. His one mistake came on the penalty kill, where he ventured over to the bench on the far boards to grab a new stick leading to a Grade A shot from his side of the ice. GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-1.

#18 Zach Hyman, 5. Quiet offensively with just 1 shot on net, but mostly took care of business the other way. GAS: +0/-1; ST +0/-0.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. A tower of power in his own end at even strength, winning battles of both speed and strength. Did a good job protecting the puck under pressure and moving it in the right direction. Fired a couple of hard outside shots on net. Was, however, victimized on the lone Seattle goal when he spread out to take away multiple options only to have Eeli Tolvanen’s shot deflect off his glove, then both of Skinner’s legs on its way through the maze. GAS: +0/-1; ST +0/-1.

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#27 Brett Kulak, 6. Had some adventures in his own end of the sheet, and was bailed out by Skinner more than once. But he returned the favour with an emergency defensive play that may have saved a goal. All he did at the other end was score the game-winner on an outside shot through traffic that somehow found a hole. GAS: ES +1/-5; ST +0/-0.

#28 Connor Brown, 4. Decent shot shares but had precious little happening offensively. Some struggles on the PK, including getting shredded on the cross-ice pass that resulted in the Seattle goal. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-2.

Leon Draisaitl skates past the Oilers bench celebrating his goal

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 8. Opened the scoring, converting McDavid’s feed with a one-timer from his favourite spot in the right faceoff circle. Assisted on the game winner with a pass from the corner, his subsequent goalie screen also playing a role. Smoked Will Borgen with a heavy reverse hit, not that the stingy Seattle scorers (who saw just 5 Oilers hits all game!) noticed. After playing most of the game at wing, had a couple of strong shifts at centre as Oilers defended the lead. But made a late mistake with an over-aggressive forecheck that resulted in a penalty 160 feet from his own net with 53 long seconds to play, leaving his mates to defend their slender lead 4v6. Or should I say, 4+Skinner v6. GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +1/-0.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 5. Fairly quiet game with a couple of flashes. His best moment was a nifty inside move and slick pass to Perry for a close-in chance that produced an Oilers powerplay. GAS: ES +2/-1; ST +0/-0.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 5. Played a team-low 9:27 and didn’t stand out. Lost a battle behind his own net leading to a Seattle chance. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-0.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 5. Low-event game, a bit too much of it spent in chase mode. Made a nice steal to break away 2v1 with Foegele, but his attempted shot was disrupted by a diving defensive play by Alex Wennberg. 1 shot, 1 block, 1 takeaway. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST +0/-0.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 6. He and his partner wound up +2 in a 2-1 game, though they had some adventures along the way. Thumped Matty Beniers with a hit heavy enough to wake up the Seattle minor scorers. Earned a +1 on his grade for a splendid 4v6 shift at the end of the game in which he blocked 2 shots, dived to clear a dangerous rebound, then blocked a centring pass and ate both the puck and the sticks digging for it as valuable seconds ticked down. Ended the game with 6 blocks, 4 more than any other Oiler. GAS: +0/-3; ST +0/-0.

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#74 Stu Skinner, 9. Outstanding from the first minute, when he stoned Gourde eyeball-to-eyeball, through the last in which he made 3 outstanding stops to seal the win. Also stoned Jordan Eberle with a lunging blocker stop in the early going, repelled Jared McCann’s slot rocket, and turned aside a Vince Dunn drive through traffic. More unlucky than anything on the one that found the net. A bit slow to move the puck a couple of times, but also made a fine pass that led to a good chance by Janmark. Made a trio of splendid stops on the game’s dramatic final sequence, robbing Eeli Tolvanen, Jordan Eberle, then Tolvanen again in the dying seconds. The stop off Eberle — who had an outstanding game — was particularly eye-popping. 25 shots, 24 saves, .960 save percentage, +1.78 goals saved above expected. 

#90 Corey Perry, 5. Poorish possession numbers but he had some good moments without the puck. He and/or his stick was in good position defensively to cut off a couple of Seattle thrusts. Lost a board battle that led to a Kraken chance. Had a fine chance of his own at the other end when he drove the net after taking Foegele’s pass, drawing a penalty in the process.  GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

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#91 Evander Kane, 6. Terrific cross-seam pass for a Janmark one-timer that nearly clicked. Made a strong outside-inside move and fired a powerful slot shot that forced one of Philipp Grubauer’s best stops. His failure to clear a puck from just inside his own blueline led to a dangerous Seattle shot. GAS: ES +3/-3; ST +0/-0.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 4. Not really his day. His outlet pass in the first minute took an unfriendly bounce right to Gourde for a terrific chance. Earned an assist on Kulak’s goal with a pass back to the point. Took a marginal holding penalty with 8 minutes to play when he tugged Alex Wennberg’s shoulder in a routine board battle, leading to Seattle’s lone goal. Played a role in the tense ending when he lost the 4v6 faceoff leading to a quick chance, then lost a battle leading to another. 0 shots on net. GAS: ES +3/-4; ST +0/-2.


#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Played 22:45 to lead the forward group. Had a splendid sequence on the opening goal, starting with a good defensive play at the edge of his own crease, then overpowered Tye Kartye in the corner before speeding away on the counterattack, ultimately setting up Draisaitl’s one-timer with a superb seam pass. Extended his latest point streak to 10 games, the 15th double-digit run of his career to tie Guy Lafleur for second-most all-time. (Wayne Gretzky’s 31 remains safe for the time being!) Strong defensively, with the Kraken mustering just 3 shots on net during his nearly 19 minutes at 5v5, though his coverage of Gourde’s shorthanded rush wasn’t the best. Fired a heavy shot off the rush that squeezed through Grubauer but narrowly missed the post. Lost a couple of 1-on-1 battles with Seattle’s Brandon Tanev and Borgen that had the home crowd hooting and hollering, but he and his team had the last laugh. GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +0/-0. 

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