In Game 82 of the 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers season, the ending was bittersweet.
With a 3-2 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks in the final seconds of the season, the beleaguered Oil managed to end on a somewhat high note. They scored two goals in regulation, both earning points for Connor McDavid to earn him the Art Ross on the season (for a second straight year, to boot).
They also played with the heavy hearts that teams across the NHL did, though, skating out less than 24 hours after the Saskatchewan hockey community was rocked by the horrifying bus crash that killed what is now estimated to be 16 people of 28 on the Humboldt Broncos bus to their playoff game.
It was also a positive end on a lost season, leaving the team holding the league leading scorer but no playoff position; with their victory Saturday night, their 2017-18 campaign has officially come to an end.
I’m here writing our recap from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona once again, filling in for the rest of the Oilers Nation crew as they simultaneously host the 10 year anniversary party of the Nation Network and raise money for Hockey Helps the Homeless and the Humboldt hockey family.
It’s not how we’d like to have ended the year, but we’ve got some good moments in there – and who can truly fault a team one final victory?
Oilers win in the shootout and slide into the office with a win like… pic.twitter.com/Iqu2K2XpOe
— OilersNation.com (@OilersNation) April 8, 2018
FINAL SCORE: EDMONTON OILERS 3, VANCOUVER CANUCKS 2
It was the final game of their NHL careers for both Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who played one final contest after having their true storybook ending at home against Arizona on Thursday.
The Canucks have been nothing short of a hot mess on skates this year, putting Edmonton (and largely the rest of the NHL) to shame with their impressive inability to string together a season with any kind of real direction to it.
They jumped out to an early advantage in shots, wrapping up the first 20 minutes with 10 shots on goal to Edmonton’s 7 – but naturally, they still managed to relinquish the first goal to the Oilers when McDavid set Leon Draisaitl up for a perfect power-play goal roughly 14 minutes into the game.
Vancouver would tie it up four minutes later on an even-strength tally from Jussi Jokinen, who picked up his fifth goal of the year, and the two teams would head into first intermission tied at one apiece.
The second period was much of the same; it was a give-and-take game with 13 shots per team, one penalty per side, and one goal each. Vancouver jumped out to a 2-1 lead at 11:45 of the second when Tyler Motte found the back of the net, but McDavid picked up an additional point when he set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a beautiful 24th goal of the year at 14:10 of the period:
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) April 8, 2018
The third period saw neither team pull ahead in scoring, which sent the game to OT – but when no one managed to score again, the team was forced to head to the shootout.
Finally, the game ended when Draisaitl put it past Anders Nilsson to take home the win:
LEON DRAISAITL WINS IT FOR THE OILERS IN THE SHOOTOUT! pic.twitter.com/ovaNdU1vkF
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 8, 2018
And that’s all she wrote… literally.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 8, 2018
- Milan Lucic couldn’t have finished his season in a way that better summed up his entire year. He scored just one goal and put up just eight points in his final 46 games of the season, dropping from a nearly 60-point pace through his first 36 games of the year to finish with just 34 on a complete 82-game campaign. On Saturday night, he once again found himself exactly where he’s been for the better part of the season; he missed a few wide-open nets, failed to convert on two recorded shots in just over 12 minutes, and ultimately fell flat in his regular season finale. At this point, though, we might as well call it a mulligan; there’s really nowhere to go but up from here for him.
- McDavid may not win the Hart Trophy, and that’s a damn shame.
- We also have to acknowledge what a legendary experience it was to witness the Sedins play hockey over the last two decades. They both finished with over 1,000 points played, all for the same team and almost exclusively together on a line. There have been brothers in the NHL before, even elite brothers – Rocket and Henri Richard were lethal, the Esposito brothers have both gone down in history, and Gordie Howe and his sons did something absolutely special during their time in the league – but what the Sedins did together is in a class all its own. Non-Canucks fans hated them, and they got their fair share of ribbing over the years – but as we look back on their careers, it’s hard not to admit that they were legends.
- Finally, our hearts are still broken for the Humboldt hockey community. As it stands right now, we still don’t fully know the death toll from the bus crash on Friday, and the injuries to the surviving players and staff likely won’t be fully realized for days or weeks to come; this is something that the community is going to need years to recover from, if at all. The outpouring of support from around the NHL, though, has been incredible.
If you want to donate to the GoFundMe account for the families of the victims and survivors, you can here.
The Nation Network has also created a t-shirt to raise funds, which can be bought here. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the families of the victims as they look to rebuild and recover.
Finally, all additional proceeds from our 10 year anniversary party tonight are going to Hockey Helps the Homeless. You can check out more info here.