That was emotional. Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
Heading into today’s game there were two things that I really cared about: 1) that the Oilers would show up from the moment the puck dropped, and 2) that they would find a way to limit their turnovers. The Oilers have been like a broken slot machine this season with jackpots being handed out left and right, a strategy that doesn’t exactly amount to a winning formula. The endless frustration, as you all know, is that we’ve seen plenty of solid efforts get ruined by bonehead mistakes, shoddy defending, and weird decision making that often turns into giveaways or goals against. I didn’t want that to happen today. Early on, the Oilers seemed eager to check off as many of those boxes as possible as the Panthers were all over them, and had it not been for strong goaltending then this game would have slipped away early.
With the game tied at donuts midway through the second period, it seemed like one of those games of chicken where the win would go to the team that held their nerve the longest. The Panthers were playing very well, but they couldn’t score and that allowed the Oilers to hang around through the moments when they probably didn’t deserve to. After finally settling in a little bit, the visitors were starting to gain some traction in the offensive zone and it lead to some quality scoring chances. Things were going reasonably well until Cam Talbot decided to get into a footrace for an open puck, leaving a wide open net for Vatrano to open the scoring. Coupled with a weak second goal that followed soon after, and those two mistakes by Dadbot looked like they would not only erase the fine work he had been doing but also leave their hopes of winning teetering on a cliff. To their credit, the Oilers didn’t let the wheels fall off. They put their hard hats on and got back to work.
On this day, the Oilers had other plans. Dadbot was able to reset his sights and his teammates were able to score some timely goals that not only picked up their goalie but closed out a win to end their losing streak. There was plenty of bending, but the boys didn’t break. It may not have been the prettiest win they’ll ever get but this was a gutsy win for an Oilers team that could have easily folded their hand when the going got tough.
Like chicken, we wrap.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied the game up at one after he was able to sneak a wrister through Luongo for his 20th goal of the year, and another shortie for the Oilers. Despite missing 18 games, RNH hits the 20 goal mark again. The Year of Nuge continues. How the hell does anybody think it makes sense to trade him? #KeepNugeForever
- Connor McDavid tied the game up with his 34th goal of the year after he was able to fool Roberto Luongo with a quick turnaround snapshot that beat him high over the glove. As he always seems to do, the captain came through for his team with a big goal when they needed him the most. Not only did he get a goal, but he also got a pair of assists which means we get to add three more McPoints to the pile.
- Adam Larsson gave the Oilers a 3-2 in the third period as his centring pass from near the goal line ended up bouncing into the net off of Roberto Luongo’s stick. Sure, most people will say it was a lucky goal but I’ll go ahead and say that Larsson meant to do that. King of the Bank Shots, they call him. Larsson not only scored the winning goal but he also had a team-high 26:12 worth of ice time.
- Ty Rattie had a really nice game alongside McNuge and you know he’ll get another look in that spot tomorrow against the Lightning. Rattie finished with a goal, an assist and all kinds of scoring chances in what was easily his best game as an Oiler so far. Rattie is auditioning for a new contract and games like this will certainly help him get there. Great game.
- McNuge keeps producing and getting better the more they play together and I can’t think of any reason why they should ever be split up again.
- Cam Talbot was really good today outside of the horrible gamble he made on the Panthers’ opening goal. All game long, Talbot was tasked with making some big saves and he was up for the challenge. Had it not been for him, the Oilers would have been down and out early in the game and we wouldn’t be talking about a win right now. Yes, the two goals against were tough to swallow but outside of that, Talbot was fantastic. He finished the day with 40 saves and a .952 save%.
- Darnell Nurse had a big game for the Oilers as he finished with an assist, two shots on goal, one hit, and one takeaway in 25:37 worth of ice.
- Ethan Bear seems to be settling into his freshly opened NHL career quite nicely. With each game that passes, Bear looks better and better and while I don’t think he should be rushed into the lineup, I do appreciate how good he’s looked so far. Give the kid the time he needs because he looks like he could be a beauty.
- After seeing Zack Kassian get knocked into the boards after a blindside hit by Michael Haley, Khaira stepped up immediately to challenge the NHL’s fight leader to dance. As we’ve come to expect from JJ Khaira, he had no problem stepping in for his teammate and he didn’t care that the guy he was challenging was one tough mother trucker. Check out the fight again over on Khaira’s fight page at Hockey Fights.
- Congrats to Milan Lucic on playing in his 800th NHL game. I mean, he didn’t do anything but it’s still a hell of an achievement.
- The PK went a perfect six for six today which included a shorthanded goal by Nugent-Hopkins. The penalty kill was a massive part of this win today and that cannot be overstated.
- Edmonton got back to their winning ways in the faceoff circle as they came out on top of 54% of the draws they took.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Frank Vatrano opened the scoring with an empty-net goal. Yes, I said an empty net goal. I mean, Talbot was on the ice but he was nowhere near his net as he gambled on a footrace to an open puck with Vatrano and lost badly. Ugly goal.
- Vincent Trocheck gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead after being the recipient of a perfectly executed odd-man rush into the Oilers’ zone. Derek MacKenzie made a nice cross pass to Trocheck and he was able to beat Talbot between his arm and body.
- It’s that magical time in the Wrap Up where we all gather round to take a look at how the power play fared. Excited? Of course you are:
- PP went 0/1 on the night. How they only got one PP chance is beyond me when you consider that the Panthers had six.
- Zack Kassian crashed into the boards in the first period and it did not look good. He basically crashed headfirst into the boards and went straight to the dressing room after getting himself off the ice. Amazingly, he came back and finished the game. Strong like bull.
- The Oilers allowed 42 shots on goal which is way too many, but it doesn’t help that they had to battle through six Florida power plays.
- It was too early to listen to Drew for two hours.
|08:02||Florida||Frank Vatrano (4)||0-1|
|11:09||Edmonton||SHG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (20) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (40)||1-1|
|15:54||Florida||Vincent Trocheck (28) ASST: Derek MacKenzie (11), Aaron Ekblad (17)||1-2|
|00:38||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (34) ASST: Ty Rattie (1), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18)||2-2|
|06:13||Edmonton||Adam Larsson (4) ASST: Darnell Nurse (15), Connor McDavid (54)||3-2|
|19:10||Edmonton||EN – Ty Rattie (1) ASST: Connor McDavid (55)||4-2|
— Chris Gordeyko (@TheNationChris) March 17, 2018
Couldn't he just livestream the birth? #Iwasthereinspirit
— David Mitchell (@Mitch92goal) March 17, 2018
Talbot was Chargin for Dahlin
— O. (@OmJo93) March 17, 2018
Just need the jujarvi
— Mayfield+Fitzpatrick 2018 (@paulvechkin) March 17, 2018
Beet-free for [ 1 ] game(s)
— Anthony Flynn (@anthonyjflynn) March 17, 2018
WHAT YOU GET:
The bag: Exclusive 10th Anniversary Party tee, commemorative Nation poster, Pint GC, Oodle Noodle GC, stickers, and a ticket to enter all of the night’s draws
The giveaways: Signed jerseys, golf passes, our box for the Edmonton Prospects, a weekend in Jasper, FREE Oodle Noodle for a year, a weekend staycation at Crash Hotel, and more.
Anything else: We’ll buy a Nation Beer for first 100 people to show up, have special guests stopping by, and a silent auction from our friends at Pro-Am to raise even more money for charity.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Where: The Pint Downtown
When: April 7th, starting at 6 pm with the hockey game starting at 8 pm
Why: To celebrate 10 years together and raise money for Hockey Helps the Homeless
How much: Tickets are $30 each with net proceeds going to Hockey Helps the Homeless
How: Tickets are available here.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 03/17/2018 – 2:30 pm MST