The Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever trip to Edmonton was certainly a memorable one. The Oilers, who couldn’t buy a goal, exploded for eight, handing Vegas their first loss in franchise history to a Western Conference team.
The Oilers kicked things off a few minutes into the first period on a beautiful short handed goal by Oscar Klefbom. He might be largely responsible for the struggles on the power play, but he can certainly drive offence on the penalty kill! JJ Khaira takes a pass from Mark Letestu and breaks down the ice and feeds Klefbom at the last moment. This is an excellent play from Khaira and a strong finish from Klefbom.
The Oilers also got their power play going last night when Patrick Maroon fed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who had snuck down from the top of the circle. RNH sneaks around effectively on this play and the Golden Knights’ PK unit doesn’t even notice him.
The Oilers grabbed another one before the period ended to make it 3-0. Leon Draisaitl and Yohann Auvitu moved the puck around in the zone before Maroon busts into the slot and snipes a goal bar down on Max Lagace’s blocker side. Auvitu’s work joining the play and Draisaitl’s ability to activate him in the offensive was gorgeous.
Mid-way through the second period, the Oilers grabbed a 4-0 lead when an Oscar Klefbom point shot was tipped in front by, uhhh, Matt Benning? Sure! Benning does an excellent job of working his way to the net, opening Klefbom up a lot of time to handle the puck at the point and get a good, hard shot on net. I love Benning’s celebration after that goal. He looked completely shocked.
The Oilers scored four goals in the first two periods before Connor McDavid decided he wanted to get in on the action early in the third. On the power play, McDavid took a cross-crease pass at the side of the net that Deryk Engelland very charitably smacked in for him.
Vegas pulled Lagace as he was noticeably in pain after Engelland fell on him on the McDavid goal. They kept him in net for a couple more Oilers goals, but pulled him in favour of 19-year-old Dylan Ferguson. The Golden Knights have had three goalies placed on the injured reserve this season and are using the recently-drafted Ferguson as an emergency call-up from the the WHL. Mark Letestu welcomed him to the NHL with this power play snipe.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted. But my dream just came true.” —Dylan Ferguson pic.twitter.com/zXAgqBjcl6— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 15, 2017
Regardless, it was a great moment for Ferguson.
By the numbers
When you win 8-2, you don’t really need to look at the numbers. You were good and the other team wasn’t. But still, the Oilers absolutely dominated in the first period before easing off the gas a little bit in the second and third. They also had 22 even strength scoring chances in comparison to Vegas’ 12. It was a very, very good showing all around.
- That’s what regression to the mean looks like in real life. Coming into the game, the Oilers were massively underperforming their peripherals while the Golden Knights, on the other end of the spectrum, were massively over-performing theirs. The Oilers finally broke through and put up a massive offensive display like they’re capable of. Obviously a lot of that has to do with Vegas using a back-up AHL goalie, but Edmonton looked a lot more calm with the puck, making smart and effective plays and getting good quality shots rather than trying to force plays. That explosion also moved the Oilers all the way up to 25th in the league in goals, which is pretty impressive considering they were in dead last this time yesterday.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ excellent play continued last night. He buried two goals, one on the power play and one at even strength, and now has eight on the season. At this rate, RNH is on pace to score 36 goals, which would be far and away his career-high. Many were down on RNH last season and McDavid and Draisaitl took the team’s limelight, but he’s evolving into that two-way centre every team wants on their second line. He’s looked more confident on the ice this season than I’ve seen in years.
- Another name worth mentioning from yesterday’s showing was Yohann Auvitu, who was very effective in jumping up in the play and providing offensively. Auvitu was an interesting low-key addition this summer but he hasn’t seen much playing time. He fired four shots towards the net himself and moved the puck nicely in the offensive zone, making Edmonton’s attack more dynamic than usual.
- All in all, that was a great game. The team badly needed that kind of explosion, and with a difficult schedule ahead in which they play teams like St. Louis and Dallas, hopefully they can capitalize on the momentum.
Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 11/14/2017, 9:30pm MST