NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins | 03/03/2024

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Lose three bad games in a row, then win three good games in a row. That’s the Oilers style of hockey we know and love. Although the last minute of regulation was hectic as Edmonton just held onto the 2-1 win yesterday, it felt nice for a change not to see the team wait until the third period to be in the game mentally. It was a pretty even game, and Stuart Skinner had himself an afternoon with plenty of big saves. In the last two wins before yesterday, Skinner would look average to bad, but then improved as those games went on to secure victories. He was more prepared for the third win, and you can’t blame him for the lone goal he allowed. That was the result of a penalty killer in front trying too hard to make a solid defensive play before it backfired. It did not change the tide in favor of the Kraken, as Skinner would still end the game with 24 saves for the win.

We Oilers fans always joke about the team struggling with afternoon games on the weekend. Now, tonight, they return home to finish a back-to-back before being on the road for four straight games. The keys to the games are…

Sid (Still) The Kid: If Pittsburgh looked like they still had a legitimate shot at making the playoffs this season, Sidney Crosby could’ve been considered for a Hart Trophy nomination. If you follow the Big Head Hockey account on Twitter, they posted earlier this week that he’s on pace for around the same number of points as Wayne Gretzky in a season at age 36. He’s already scored more goals than him at that age. You just can’t believe how underrated Crosby has been, even while having a top 10 or arguably top 5 hockey career.

The Return Of The Bison King: Former Oiler and fan favorite Jesse Puljujarvi comes back to Rogers Place for the first time against his former team. He doesn’t have any points in the eight games he’s played as a Penguin, but he’s always been solid at defensive play as well as with forechecking. The recent stint with his new team is very reminiscent of his time in Edmonton.

Battle Of The Back-Ups: Edmonton has allowed just five goals during their three game winning streak, and the Penguins are 4th in GA/G. I expected Tristan Jarry to play tonight before learning that he played in Pittsburgh’s game last night. So Calvin Pickard vs. Alex Nedeljkovic it is then. Both #2 goalies will be highly motivated for their teams against elite offensive talents.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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