After dropping back-to-back divisional games over the weekend, the Oilers brought out the axe and fired head coach Todd McLellan. With new head coach Ken Hitchcock in the fold, Edmonton got themselves back in the win column with a gutsy 4-3 overtime win in San Jose.
Welcome, Hitch! Under a minute into his tenure as Oilers coach, Brent Burns got a shot on net from the point and nobody was covering Joonas Donskoi, so he grabbed the rebound and roofed it over Mikko Koskinen’s shoulder. Woof, Hitch isn’t going to like that D-zone coverage.
Nobody guarding Donskoi? That's cool with us. pic.twitter.com/1dCDxvCX38
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 21, 2018
Connor McDavid got the game tied up halfway through the first period with his 100th career goal. Leon Draisaitl got the puck down low beside the net and fed McDavid a sneaky pass right into the slot. It’s amazing how McDavid was able to just slip his way right to the front of the net untouched like that.
Career goal No. 💯 for Connor McDavid pic.twitter.com/mqoY9dZqBn
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 21, 2018
San Jose grabbed the lead again before the end of the first period. Joe Thornton got the puck out front to Marcus Sorenson who managed to roof it over Koskinen. It’s hard to understand how such a big guy manages to get beaten up high like that when he takes up the entire net.
— Sharks Central (@SJSharksNHL) November 21, 2018
This was kind of a short-handed goal, but it’s credited as an even-strength goal as Zack Kassian came out of the penalty box right as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was roofing the puck over Martin Jones.
We said period two would be better, and just like that it's 2-2 on this shorty from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins!
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 21, 2018
Right before the end of the second period, Logan Couture turned a nothing turnover at San Jose’s blueline into a gorgeous goal. He took a pass from Tomas Hertl and absolutely turnstiled Adam Larsson before walking in and going roof again on Koskinen.
Logan Couture takes Adam Larsson’s jock and throws it straight into the rafters pic.twitter.com/62hH1FErEp
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 21, 2018
The top line connected again in the third period to tie the game. Draisaitl hit McDavid as he was breaking into the zone and the captain found Drake Caggiula as he was driving the net for an easy tap-in. Also, praise to Koskinen who made a big save prior to this goal, it easily could have been 4-2, not 3-3.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 21, 2018
If the Oilers reach three-on-three overtime, they’re very likely going to win. How do you stop the McDavid and Draisaitl duo with that much open room? Despite Joe Pavelski hooking him relentlessly, McDavid dragged the puck in front of the net and managed to bounce it off Draisaitl and in for the winner. Take that, refs.
There's a reason they call it McDavid-time.
The game winner. pic.twitter.com/xd4W6FV9m8
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 21, 2018
The game was tightly contested in the first and second, but the Oilers began to carry play in the third. All told, the Oilers had a slight edge in shot attempts, 41 to 36, while San Jose had a slight edge in high danger chances, 10 to eight. Much as your eye test would suggest, the game was tight.
- What did we notice about the first game in the Hitchcock era? Obviously, it’s going to take time for new systems to settle in and for things to really look different, but I thought the team had a nice jump in the third period which we sometimes wouldn’t see after that late Couture goal in which he walked Adam Larsson. Maybe that’s some of that Hitch motivation we’ve heard about.
- Another noticeable thing was the usage of the bottom-six. Milan Lucic got put on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian, which is something I’ve wanted to see for quite some time. In a perfect world, Lucic is scoring goals, but this isn’t a perfect world, and he can thrive much better on this checking line playing a crash-and-bang role.
- I’m really digging Caggiula as the final piece to the top line. Caggiula has the ability to finish, but, most importantly, he drives and net and skates for free pucks. He’ll dig in the corner, forecheck, and battle in front of the net, which is key for the McDavid and Draisaitl duo who get a lot of pucks in high danger areas.
- It’s wild to me how the refs let everything on McDavid just fly. Joe Pavelski shadowed him all night and relentlessly hooked and slashed him. Look at this play in which Pavelski straight up interferes with McDavid for 150 feet. Same deal with the overtime goal, Pavelski took like three different penalties on that sequence, and thankfully McDavid was still able to create that goal despite it.
- I’m not sure what to make of Koskinen’s game last night. He made a bunch of huge saves in key times, but he also got beat in the same way three times, which is a little worrying. Are teams keying in on the fact he isn’t good with shots up high? Regardless, allowing three or fewer goals tends to be a recipe for success with this team.