That was oddly familiar and equally upsetting. Final Score: 6-5 Wild
After the way the last two games went, both disappointing losses in very different ways, the Oilers needed a bounce back effort tonight against the Minnesota Wild, and they needed to lay their balls on the line to make sure that it happened. Show us how bad you want it, boys. The problem, though, is that the Minnesota Wild came into this thing with a 6-1-3 record over their last 10 games and that general hotness combined with the fact that they’ve been Oiler killers for a decade or more had me feeling more than nervous. Maybe it’s because the Oilers have struggled to find consistency over the past couple of weeks or because we’ve been hurt so many times before, but either way, I wasn’t feeling confident about the way this thing would play out and I was praying to the Hockey Gords that I would be wrong.
So when the boys got off to a quick start and an early lead, my nerves calmed, my rum tasted a little bit sweeter, and I felt like we might finally be in line for a night of enjoyment. It was a simple dream but a beautiful one. Then, within five short minutes, the Wild evened the score with a lucky bounce goal and set themselves up to wrestle the lead away, which was exactly what they did in the dying seconds of the period. Once again, I could feel the rage bubbling up inside as I felt another game slipping away. The good news was that Leon Draisaitl tied the game up at two apiece early in the middle frame with that power play goal, and once again my hope was replenished and my spirits were high. The bad news was that Marcus Foligno wiped out Draisaitl’s marker with one of his own just over a minute later, and the even worse news was when Donato piled on with fourth Minnesota goal shortly after that. To say that things looked bleak would be the understatement of a lifetime, and I wasn’t sure that the boys had the jam to get themselves back into it.
Heading into the third period down by two, I’ll be the first to admit that I was feeling dejected and had basically quit on this game even though there was still plenty of time left to go. Thankfully, the Oilers were feeling a hell of a lot more inspired than I was and they fought and clawed their way into a tie game with a pair of timely goals from Haas and McDavid. But just as they did when they tied the game up against Carolina, the Oilers let the wheels fall off and gave Minnesota all of the openings they needed to reclaim their lead and close things out. To put it another way, it was endlessly upsetting to watch the same movie twice in a row, if you know what I mean. That said, I’m also of the opinion that if you score five goals you should probably win the hockey game. Take that as you will.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Oscar Klefbom opened the scoring (1-0) with a beautiful backhand goal that was made possible from a nifty little pass from Sam Gagner along the boards. Klefbom walked down into the slot and Gagner found him with a perfect saucer pass that left Sexbom with some time and space.
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game up at two apiece (2-2) on the power play after he was able to sneak one through the goaltender’s glove and body. Up until that point, the Oilers power play had looked a little bit disjointed, but those concerns were quickly dashed by Drai’s fifth PP goal of the season.
- Down by two goals with a period to play, my hope for a win had all but flown out the window until Gaetan Haas scored to bring his team back to within a single goal (4-3). Haas got his stick on a point shot and deflected it past the goaltender for his first goal in 14 games, a sight that I couldn’t have been more pumped about had it been Miranda Kerr in string cheese bikini.
- Only moments after Gaetan Haas scored, Connor McDavid tied things up (4-4) after he smashed the puck home near the side of the net after Ethan Bear made a wonderful play to get it to him. McDavid was buzzing all game and it was actually frustrating me that he wasn’t able to cash in on some of the chances that he probably deserved, but, in the end, he ended up getting a clutch goal when his team needed him the most.
- After the Oilers had tied the game up and blown it, James Neal pulled them back to within one (6-5) with the team’s fifth goal of the night. It was fun, and I was happy to see him score again, but it was too little too late. Neal finished the night with two points.
- I was happy to see Sam Gagner back in the lineup tonight after being a scratch against Buffalo and Carolina. Gagner didn’t waste any time in contributing as he picked up an assist with a beautiful pass on Klefbom’s first period marker. By my eye, he had been filling in admirably for Nuge while he was out with that hand injury, but clearly, Dave Tippett didn’t feel the same.
- Darnell Nurse basically killed Jordan Greenway in the second period after absolutely beating the shit out of him late in the second period. Greenway was trying to mix it up in front of the net but Darryl was having none of it, and the next thing you know, Nurse was teeing off on his face like he was starting a lawnmower. If you want to see the fight again, you can check it out over on Nurse’s player page at HockeyFights.com.
- Shout out to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for registering his 400th point in the NHL with the assist on James Neal’s third period goal. He also finished the night at 73% in the faceoff circle as he moves towards the best totals of his career in that department.
- The Oilers won the special teams battle again tonight, scoring on one of two power play chances while also killing off the lone penalty they took.
THE FACE PALMERS
- In the back half of the first period, Jordan Greenway tied the game up (1-1) after parking himself in front of the net and getting a lucky bounce go in off of his shoulder pad.
- Jason Zucker gave Minnesota the lead (2-1) with only 17 seconds left in the first period after Jujhar Khaira gave the puck away at the other end of the ice, allowing the Wild the opportunity to turn it around and cash in a late goal. Frankly, Khaira’s hope pass to no one should never have happened and I’d prefer to see him throw it back down into the corner rather than fish for a miracle.
- Marcus Foligno restored the Wild’s lead (3-2) with a snipe of a wrister that beat Mike Smith high over the glove hand. Once again, the Oilers got caught on an odd-man rush against but this time, they got burned by the chance that probably should have been avoided entirely.
- Ryan Donato gave the Wild a two-goal buffer (4-2) after the Oilers got burned on a second straight odd-man rush against, this time as a result of a horrible defensive change by Nurse at the bench.
- Right as Oilers fans were getting excited about their team tying things up at four, Eric Staal ruined the fun with a response goal (5-4) that came as a result of another defensive gaff and lack of a save in net. Were you surprised? You weren’t, were you?
- By the time Luke Konin scored the Wild’s sixth goal of the night (6-4) and the eventual game winner, I was full-on raging and ready to throw my TV out the window. Why do I love this team?
- Mike Smith got the start tonight and was looking to rebound after a tough outing against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, and he wasn’t any better tonight against Minnesota. After allowing four goals on 11 shots, and admittedly I wouldn’t hang all four of those on him, the Oilers found themselves down by a pair of goals in a game that they should have been in. Again, I’m not suggesting that Smith is entirely at fault for this loss, but it certainly would have been nice to get another save or two or four, ya know? Smith finished the night with 20 saves and a .769 save%.
- Can I mention how bad goaltending will lose you hockey games 100% of the time? Would that be okay?
|08:00||Edmonton||Oscar Klefbom (3) ASST: Sam Gagner (7), James Neal (7)||1-0|
|12:35||Minnesota||Jordan Greenway (4) ASST: Carson Soucy (3), Luke Kunin (5)||1-1|
|19:42||Minnesota||Jason Zucker (12) ASST: Eric Staal (14), Mats Zuccarello (11)||1-2|
|02:00||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (20) ASST: Connor McDavid (37), Oscar Klefbom (18)||2-2|
|03:46||Minnesota||Marcus Foligno (3) ASST: Ryan Hartman (5), Victor Rask (5)||2-3|
|07:50||Minnesota||Ryan Donato (6) ASST: Carson Soucy (4)||2-4|
|10:43||Edmonton||Gaetan Haas (3) ASST: Adam Larsson (1)||3-4|
|12:49||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (20) ASST: Ethan Bear (6), Darnell Nurse (14)||4-4|
|15:13||Minnesota||Eric Staal (9) ASST: Jason Zucker (11), Ryan Suter (15)||4-5|
|16:21||Minnesota||Luke Kunin (7) ASST: Jordan Greenway (8), Joel Eriksson Ek (10)||4-6|
|19:11||Edmonton||James Neal (15) ASST: Zack Kassian (11), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12)||5-6|
Sam Gagner has a goal and six assists in his last nine games. Also been a healthy scratch six times in that span.
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) December 13, 2019
If Minnesota gets up by two goals, prepare for a coma-inducing version of hockey that has you thanking your lucky stars you didn't buy a ticket to get into the rink.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) December 13, 2019
Me: It wouldn't bother me to see fighting gone from the NHL
Also me: *Watching a hockey fight pic.twitter.com/lbdR7jIA1g
— Ross – Ken Netherlands (@tyrannosauross2) December 13, 2019
Suck, tie it up, suck again. pic.twitter.com/nIvRLoAit6
— 𝗔𝗱𝗮𝗺 (@OilersAdam) December 13, 2019
ATLEAST CALGARY GETS ANOTHER CHRISTMAS CARD TONIGHT @jsbmbaggedmilk
— Casey Jones (@cweber10) December 13, 2019
Put him in front of the other team's net on the power play and just let him tip pucks into that net instead.
— StevenX (@StevenX_DFA) December 13, 2019
How could we not? Get your Bear Season tee exclusively at NationGear.ca.