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GDB 65.0 Wrap Up: It’s a long drive back to Winnipeg, Oilers close out 3-2 comeback win

Mike Smith, we speak your name. Final Score: 3-2 Oilers

I know we’re not officially in must-win territory yet, but as far as my gut feeling goes, beating the Jets tonight was about as close as it gets. As I wrote in this morning’s GDB, we’re getting to a spot in the season where the Oilers can’t allow losing streaks to keep rolling on, and I was hoping that they would do everything humanly possible to get themselves up for this game and back in the win column. And with the Jets missing as many important guys (more or less) as the Oilers are, tonight’s game was about as good of an opportunity for the boys to grab two points as they’re likely to get. Regardless of who Winnipeg had sitting out, they’re still a very hardworking hockey team and it was going to take a very strong effort from the home side if they were going to end the losing streak. Against the Ducks and Golden Knights, the Oilers couldn’t manage to get on the board first (or at all in Vegas) so I was looking for them to get a quick start and hopefully sink something past Hellebuyck that could shake his confidence a little bit. Dare to dream?

Clearly, the boys were thinking the same thing as they found the back of the net early in the first period with a powerplay goal from Leon Draisaitl that gave them both a lead and a nice little dose of energy. It was the start they needed and it was a lot of fun to watch the people at Rogers Place freaking out about Drai hitting 100 points. That said, the Jets weren’t about to lay down and die, and they pushed back hard with a flurry of chances that could have easily tied the game up had Smith not been dialled in. Moving into the second period, Edmonton had a good chance of maintaining their lead provided that they kept the hammer down just as they did in the first, however, it was the Jets that played with a tonne of energy which made this middle 20 one of the most lopsided periods that we’ve seen in a while. Had it not been for a late powerplay chance that the good guys were able to convert for the second time then the Oilers would have gone into the intermission feeling pretty low on themselves for the way this segment went down.

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Heading into the third period with the game tied at two, it felt like it was still anyone’s game since both teams really pushed the pace for a period each. That said, if the Oilers came out with the same sluggishness as they did in the second period then they were setting themselves up for disaster and that simply could not happen. Even though they did perform at a slightly higher tempo, I still felt like they were trying to slow things down rather than attacking the way they did early on, and that resulted in being forced to lean on Mike Smith far too often. To be honest, it was the Jets that looked like they were going to be the ones to come out on top. Then, just as our stress levels were maxing out, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins takes a pass from Leon Draisaitl in the high slot and buries the game winner.

The wrap.

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THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Leon Draisaitl opened up the scoring (1-0) with a powerplay goal after Connor McDavid found him with a pass at the side of the net and he made no mistake of burying it for his 100th point of the season. Draisaitl added a second PP goal late in the second period to tie the game up (2-2) and save what was otherwise a horrible period for his team. How about another casual three point night for Draisaitl? Just ridiculous, this guy. M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins restored the Oilers lead (3-2) in the third period after Leon found him with some space in the high slot with enough time to rip a perfectly placed wrist shot past Hellebuyck on the blocker side that he had absolutely no chance of stopping. RNH’s heater continues with another three-point night. #KeepNugeForever
  • Mike Smith was between the pipes for his 34th start of the season and I was expecting him to deliver a strong performance after a not-so-great night in Anaheim on Tuesday. That’s not to say that he’s the sole reason for the loss or anything, but he certainly didn’t play at the standard we’ve seen from him over the last couple of months. To put it lightly, Smith was absolutely brilliant tonight and a huge reason that the Oilers were able to close this thing out. Had it not been for him, this game could have really gotten out of hand a few times but he made the saves needed to stick around and eventually close out the win. Absolutely fantastic game for the keeper as he finished his night with 39 saves and a .951 save%.
  • Will you ever get tired of watching Connor McDavid put up multi-point games? With tonight’s pair of assists, he now has eight points in four games since coming back from his injury.
  • This was a game where the Oilers needed their powerplay to come through with a goal or two, and they did exactly that with two huge goals that were absolutely crucial.
  • Not to be outdone, the PK killed off both chances they faced and kept the Jets from either extending their lead or tying the game.

THE FACE PALMERS

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  • Logan Shaw tied the game up at one apiece after he was sprung in alone on a breakaway and ripped a wrist shot past Smith low to the blocker side.
  • Only 34 seconds after Winnipeg tied the game, Kyle Connor gave the Jets the lead after being the business end of a pretty little passing play that started with Blake Wheeler undressing Ethan Bear before feathering the puck over for a one-timer.
  • That second period was uuuuuuuuugly until the Oilers got on the powerplay in the final minute or so. Wow.
  • Actually, getting outshot 41-22 isn’t a great look at the best of times, and that’s why I’m going to give another shout out to Mike Smith for his wizardry.
  • I didn’t like Andreas Athanasiou’s game tonight and, clearly, neither did Dave Tippett as he bumped the new guy down to the third line near the start of the second period. He needs to be better, especially if he wants to keep that spot next to Connor McDavid on the first line. Frankly, I’d expect Kassian to get his slot back once Kailer Yamamoto comes back.
  • Speaking of Yamo, I was super bummed to hear that Kailer Yamamoto wouldn’t be playing tonight. Obviously, we want him to come back healthy but he’s the straw that stirs the drink on the second line.
  • If Jujhar Khaira didn’t have bad luck right now he would have none at all. Personally, I thought tonight was JJ’s best game in a while but he just could finish off any of the chances he had, which makes me think that now would be the perfect time to bring back the moustache.
  • Even though it was a pretty decent night on the out of town scoreboard, it’s still incredibly stressful to be in this position. Now, with that said, it’s much preferable than draft watching but it’s still hard on the ol’ ticker, ya know?

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
06:27 Edmonton PPG – Leon Draisaitl (38) ASST: Connor McDavid (57), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (33) 0-1

2ND PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
13:23 Winnipeg Logan Shaw (3) ASST: Nicholas Shore (3), Gabriel Bourque (4) 1-1
13:57 Winnipeg Kyle Connor (33) ASST: Blake Wheeler (38), Anthony Bitetto (8) 2-1
19:47 Edmonton PPG – Leon Draisaitl (39) ASST: Connor McDavid (58), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (34) 2-2

3RD PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
14:44 Edmonton Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (63), Adam Larsson (5) 2-3

#GOODCONTENT

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