It looked like the Oilers had this thing in the bag, but the Ducks stormed back in the third period and eventually won in overtime with a limp game-winning goal.
Connor's 39th goal and 97th point. This is not a drill!! pic.twitter.com/Qb7GWAjLgj— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) March 26, 2018
Connor McDavid continued his torrid hot streak when he got the Oilers out to a 1-0 lead in the second period. It was his 39th of the season and now, somehow, someway, he’s within striking distance of the Rocket Richard Trophy. He’s going up against a very good defender in Josh Manson here and because of his speed and ability to drive wide quickly, Manson has to slide over and effectively become a screen for his goalie, then mcDavid rips a shot over John Gibson’s blocker side.
The Ducks tied the game at 1-1 soon after, but McDavid found Matt Benning at the point to give the Oilers the lead back. This is great work by Benning to capitalize on the large open space in the middle of the ice and get a quality shot on net. It’s something we didn’t see enough from the blueline this season.
I’ve criticized Leon Draisaitl from taking shots from this angle before, but he made it work this time. Ethan Bear makes a nice fake-shot-pass and finds Draisaitl all the way in the corner and he somehow manages to rip a one-timer over Gibson’s glove.
The Ducks tied the game in the third period with back-to-back goals, but Ethan bear got the Oilers back the lead with his first career NHL goal. McDavid makes it look like he’s going to get a shot on net from the half wall but then he slides the puck across the ice to Bear who broke to the slot without the Ducks defenders noticing him. It could have been the game-winner, but the Ducks scored again with a couple minutes to go to send the game to overtime.
Feel the excitement of 3-on-3 overtime! pic.twitter.com/SjdiOAQ2WX— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 26, 2018
Aaaaaaaand then this happened. The Ducks played keep away for a minute-and-a-half, seemingly to wait out Connor McDavid, and then they went down and scored the winner. This was a really, really bad gaffe by Darnell Nurse to let the puck slide right by him. Had he made the defensive play, we might be talking about how dumb the Ducks looked after the Oilers went up and scored themselves.
Outside of the first period, Anaheim was the better of the two teams last night. The Ducks ultimately had 62 even strength shot attempts to the Oilers’ 47, and, after the first, the Ducks rolled the Oilers 46 to 27. Anaheim also had 20 high danger chances and Edmonton only had nine. The Oilers, despite blowing a 3-1 lead, was probably lucky to get the game into overtime.
- Three-on-three overtime has been a bright spot in the league since it was implemented, but, inevitably, coaches are going to suck the fun out of it for functional strategy purposes. The Ducks won the draw and then played keep away for quite some time in order to suck the energy out of Connor McDavid. Then, when they had their chance, they went up and got a shot on net. I mean, how else do you defend McDavid? The Oilers are incredibly good in overtime because of him, and the Ducks actively tried to just tire him out before capitalizing. It sucks, but it’s just the nature of the sport. Coaches, in their pursuit of winning, will make the game boring.
- As frustrating as the overtime was, the Oilers were terrible in the third period. They came in with a two-goal lead and completely sat back and let the Ducks pull themselves back into the game with ease. The blueline looked soft and the forwards looked tired. The team had been playing quite well recently, but that third period showing was certainly a black eye.
- Darnell Nurse had a really rough game. The exclamation point, of course, was the horrendous gaffe on Anaheim’s overtime goal. McDavid makes an effective check on Rickard Rackell but Nurse just sort of stands there and lets the puck go right to Hampus Lindholm in front of the net. While Nurse has been labelled as one of the bright spots in an otherwise largely bad season, he hasn’t been very good in the second half of the season. Maybe we should pump the breaks on him being ready to be Edmonton’s top left-handed defenceman. Last night, him and Adam Larsson got caved in, allowing 26 shot attempts and eight high danger chances as a pair.