Brutal finish. Just brutal. Final Score: 4-3 Blackhawks
It’s amazing the difference a couple of days can make, isn’t it? After the debacle in Game 1, many Oilers fans were feeling very dejected about how this series was going, but after a stellar performance from Connor McDavid that powered the team to a 6-3 victory on Monday night, everyone’s enthusiasm seems to have come flooding back. Not only did the team need that win to even up the series, but they also needed to show everyone that the sloppiness from the series opener was only an outlier and not the way they play. Outside of a few mistakes here and there, the Oilers played a much tighter hockey game at both even strength and when down a man, and it was those upgrades in play that ended up being the difference. Coming into Game 3, the Oilers need to keep minding the details in all three zones while also pushing for as many chances as possible against Corey Crawford who has looked shaky in his first two starts.
Not that I was expecting another goal in the first 19 seconds as we saw on Monday, I did want to see the Oilers start the game with energy and push the pace early on, which was why it was so upsetting to see another flat start that was dominated by sloppiness and forced pass attempts. Thankfully, Leon Draisaitl entered the chat with a huge goal at the side of the net that stopped the bleeding and quickly righted the ship. The bad news is that the Oilers ran into some (undeserved) penalty trouble that offered the Blackhawks all the opportunities they needed to reclaim the lead. Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to get both more jump from the opening draw and stay the hell out of the box. And even though playing the game at even strength seems like a simple plan, Edmonton had an incredibly difficult time making it happen as their endless parade to the box basically continued through forty minutes. In fact, based on the number of powerplay chances Chicago had up until that point — six in total — I’d suggest that our boys were fairly lucky to be heading into the final frame in the mix, let alone up by a goal.
Up by a goal with twenty minutes to play, the Oilers had a wonderful chance to close this game out and head into Friday night with a chance to close out the series, but they were going to have to be much more disciplined if they wanted to make it happen. As much as their PK was getting the job through two periods, the last thing they really needed was to keep giving the Blackhawks the gift of free access to their zone. While they were finally able to remain at evens through the final 20 minutes, Chicago had far too many extended shifts in the offensive zone, far too many looks on net, and it was only a matter of time before they were able to capitalize. Almost predictably based on how things were playing out, Edmonton couldn’t stop the wheels from falling off after giving up the tying goal, and the game-winner for Chicago followed shortly after. All-in-all, this was about as disappointing of a loss as we could have gotten as the Oilers seemingly did everything they could to shoot themselves in the foot.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- After having a quiet night on Monday, Leon Draisaitl came through for his team when they needed him with a big goal from the side of the net that tied the game up at one apiece midway through the first period. Leon followed it up with another goal in the opening half of the second period after Crawford took a shot from the point, coughed up a rebound into the slot, and the future MVP was there to bury it (2-1). Up until this point, Leon Draisaitl has been very quiet and it seemed like only a matter of time before he would break out and look more like the guy that ran away with the league lead in points.
- Connor McDavid put on a clinic in Game 2 and I was very excited to see what he would do for an encore. As we’ve come to expect from him, McDavid contributed again with his fifth goal of the series which temporary gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead.
- Oscar Klefbom played a team-high 27:49 tonight as he tried to do some of the heavy lifting left by the absence of Adam Larsson.
- The powerplay went 1/3 on the night and the PK killed off five of six penalties against. Obviously, special teams was a big difference tonight in that it would have been nice to get nearly as many opportunities with the man advantage.
- At least the Oilers won 54% of the faceoffs?
- Once again, the 50/50 was absolutely bananas in Oil Country. I mean, it broke $3 million on Monday night — an incredible feat to watch in itself — so I was curious to see how high we could crank that baby up again and I was not disappointed. Not only did Oilers fans flock to the raffle once again, we actually maxed it out at over $5 million with about six hours left to go until puck drop.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Olli Maata opened the scoring at 9:14 of the first period after his blast from the point made its way through traffic and beat Koskinen just inside the post on the glove side. I’m not sure how well Koskinen would have seen the shot, but the real problem came with how flat the Oilers started this hockey game.
- With only 4.2 seconds left in the first period, Jonathan Toews restored Chicago’s lead with a lucky goal that somehow bounced off his leg and dribbled slowly over the goal line. Personally, I thought the two penalties that led up to that goal were trash, but maybe that’s just me complaining about nothing. I’m not wrong btw.
- After a lot of pressure and chances on net, Matthew Highmore tied the game up after being in the right place at the right time and having Slater Koekkoek’s shot deflect in off him and into the back of the net.
- Burned by another deflection right in front of the net, Chicago got the game-winner after Connor Murphy’s point shot took a bounce into the top corner off of Ethan Bear’s stick. Bear was trying to make a play and clear the puck, but luck was not in his side as he inadvertently put it into his own net.
- The Oilers had a sluggish start to the first period that saw them squander a powerplay without a shot, too often pass the puck to no one in particular, and allow the Blackhawks to open the scoring despite not having a great opening themselves. Thankfully, they were able to get their feet moving as the period wore on and were able to counterpunch with a goal of their own.
- While they were better in the rare moments they were playing at 5-on-5, I saw too many times when the Oilers were trying to force passes through holes that didn’t exist and it resulted in needless turnovers that likely can be avoided.
- Where has Zack Kassian been in this series? Is he playing? (I know he is, but you know what I mean)
- After a solid performance on Monday that registered his first-career playoff win, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for the Oilers and looking to shut down a motivated Blackhawks team that did not want to fall behind in the series. At times, I thought Koskinen looked a little bit shaky — I’m thinking of times when he’d drop pucks that hit him in the glove — and he just couldn’t come up with the big save the team needed to close out the win. By no means am I hanging this loss on him, but I really would have liked to see him make an extra save or two to keep things steady. Koskinen finished the night with 21 saves and a .840 save%.
- Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period after taking a hit from Kirby Dach into the end boards. At first, it didn’t look like the hit was too crazy but upon seeing the replay, it was clear that the way Ennis went into the wall and twisted on the way down played a major factor in whatever happened with his leg. Maybe an ankle? Knee? Leg in general? It was hard to tell, but either way, it did not look good.
- Waaaaaaay too many penalties tonight. The Oilers had a period of time where they took four minor penalties in a span of five minutes and it’s tough to win hockey games when you’re constantly down a man.
Last time someone in EDM earned this much money for doing nothing his name was Milan Lucic pic.twitter.com/1ryE993phD
— Weebo (@OilersPain) August 5, 2020
Pretty much pic.twitter.com/QUpvd0aTJj
— Goopy – Upcoming 50/50 Winner (@GoopyFS) August 5, 2020
— daniel kalverla (@dankalverla) August 6, 2020
Who ever is controlling the crowd noise needs to play the “Bullshit!” chant.
— Marlin (@rinkdog44) August 6, 2020
— Ty Loney (@Grizz4327) August 6, 2020
— TJ (@tjbahra) August 6, 2020
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