Now, this was the hungry and resilient team we were told we were going to see. After Edmonton’s sorta lacklustre loss against the Bruins in their first game back in North America, I questioned where the team’s sense of urgency was. Well, it was on full display last night in Winnipeg as the Oilers, led by league’s Most Valuable Player, scored four unanswered goals to erase a 4-1 deficit.
The Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period off of two ugly shifts for Jason Garrison and Matt Benning. To be fair to Benning, these meltdowns were more on his partner than him. On the first goal, Benning and Leon Draisaitl are checking their guys behind the net, but one of them, Adam Lowry, works his way out and is able to walk the puck right into the danger zone while Garrison just stands there and looks like he’s competing in the Brier. On the second, Garrison makes a bad outlet pass right to Winnipeg’s player, Lowry again, and then gets completely burned while trying to catch him.
The Oilers get caught in their own zone and the Jets make them pay. 1-0 Winnipeg. pic.twitter.com/qumjhXxEos— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) October 17, 2018
*barfs*— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) October 17, 2018
2-0 Winnipeg. pic.twitter.com/4jclkpBsyF
Connor McDavid brought the Oilers to within one with a power play goal in which he made Jacob Trouba look like a turnstile. Trouba is a good defenceman. That isn’t easy to do.
Connor McDavid tries to stop the bleeding on his own and gets the Oilers on the board! pic.twitter.com/A3S0Lkmdv6— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) October 17, 2018
The Jets would score to restore their two-goal lead almost immediately after the McDavid goal and then they scored again a minute into the second period to make it 4-1. I don’t think there’s anybody, in particular, to blame on Ben Chiarot’s 3-1 goal from the point. It was a good shot that got past a screened Cam Talbot. The 4-1 goal from Mark Scheifele was an example of how lethal Winnipeg’s power play.
And then the third period happened. Connor McDavid went, well, into Connor McDavid mode. Seconds into the third period, McDavid carries the puck through the offensive zone and fans (accidentally on purpose?!) on a shot, but the puck goes right to Ty Rattie, who buries his first of the season. That’s a hell of a shot from Rattie and it serves as a reminder as to why he’s been given this opportunity on the top line.
A few minutes later, with Andrew Copp in the penalty box, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins takes a couple whacks at the puck before it bounces out to the side to McDavid, who fires it past a sprawling Hellebuyck. Oh boy, we have ourselves a game!
Praise the McBlender! Jesse Puljujarvi earned himself a chance in the top-six after a strong showing in the first couple of periods. He would reward his coach by going straight to the net and burying the tying goal past Hellebuyck. This is some great passing from McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins, but praise to Young Jesse for going to the net and having his stick on the ice. Good things happen when you do that.
The Oilers need Cam Talbot to be good in order for the team to be successful. Shortly after the team tied the game, Kris Russell had a gaffe at the blueline, but Talbot bailed him out with a huge save on Brandon Tanev. Talbot wasn’t bad in the first couple of periods, but he wasn’t great either. But that save in the third period was a game saver. This is exactly the kind of thing the team needs from their starting goalie.
Then, in overtime, Darnell Nurse pulled off a hell of a dangle before firing the game-winner past Hellebuyck. The Jets definitely underestimated ol’ Darryl on that one.
Darnell Nurse completes the comeback with the OT winner against the Jets! pic.twitter.com/NTsjJQZLkc— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) October 17, 2018
Winnipeg was the better team in the first period, but the Oilers had a strong pushback in the second before totally taking control of the game in the third. The Jets went back into a shell when they had their 4-1 lead, but the Oilers put their foot on the gas and didn’t stop.
- Blake Wheeler was interviewed after the game and, to paraphrase, he kind of just shrugged and said “Connor McDavid, what can you do?” There isn’t much you can do. Once McDavid is at his best, there isn’t really anything you can do to stop him. He can do it himself as he did on the Oilers’ first goal where he turnstiled Trouba or he can create opportunities and utilize his teammates as he did with Puljujarvi and Rattie. In all of those instances, McDavid is just burning into the zone and making the other team’s players scurry around.
- Leon Draisaitl is really the one who needs to step up and drive offence without McDavid. I know, he has five points in four games, but when you dig a little deeper, that over point-per-game pace isn’t as impressive. Four of those points have come with the man advantage and all of them have involved McDavid.
- I mentioned it earlier but I want to mention it again — Cam Talbot’s save on Tanev was a game-saver. Talbot didn’t have many huge stops earlier on in the game, but he made up for it with that one. The team needs Talbot to be sharp like that in order to be successful.
- I know we criticize the McBlender a lot, but it worked last night. Todd McLellan went with the hot hand in the third period and wasn’t afraid to give new guys looks on different lines. He swapped Draisaitl and Ryan Strome at one point, which gave Jesse Puljujarvi and Drake Caggiula, who had been flying, a chance with a more offensive pivot. Puljujarvi then got out there with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins and rewarded his coach with the game-tying goal. The young Finn needs these reps in the top-six to gain confidence and find his niche in the NHL.
- Darnell Nurse had himself a No. 1 defenceman night. He logged 27:44 in all situations and only allowed Winnipeg to generate three scoring chances over the course of the game. On a more negative side, Nurse badly needed to step up because the Garrison and Benning pairing was so bad they could barely be trusted to play in the third period.
- McDavid’s streak of being involved in nine-straight Oilers goals to open the season was finally snapped by that Nurse OT winner. As cool as that stat is, it isn’t a good look for the team. The Oilers badly need to generate offence without McDavid on the ice otherwise they’ll be making it much easier for other teams to shut him down. I mean, shutting him down isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s much more doable when nobody else on the team can generate offence.
- You gotta think that flying into Fargo, North Dakota and taking the bus to Winnipeg because Winnipeg doesn’t have an airport was a game-changer for the team. Spending time on a bus with your team is great for bonding.