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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

GDB 7.0 Wrap Up: Oilers take the series opener with a huge 4-3 win at the buzzer

Leon Draisaitl with plenty of time to spare. Final Score: 4-3 Oilers

Coming into this game, all I could think about was how badly the Oilers needed to get a split (at least) out of this two-night mini-series in Winnipeg. I don’t care what they had to do or who needed to be sacrificed to make it happen, but the boys had to do everything humanly possible to avoid heading back to Edmonton with a 2-6 record. Could you imagine? That’s a long, sad bus ride. And I don’t care how much runway is left on this season, the path to the playoffs is going get substantially more difficult unless the boys can get the train back on track and start stacking up some wins. Needless to say, the stress levels are rising to crisis levels around here and the only prescription to alleviate the pressure is more cowbell points in the standings. Then again, maybe a little adversity in the first month of the season is exactly what the Oilers need, ya know? Dare to dream?

With two big points and a potential losing streak on the line, the Oilers needed to come up with a full 60 minutes and, Hockey Gords willing, set themselves up for success with an early lead. It was a dream that not meant to be, however, as the Jets cashed in an early marker that Edmonton was unable to match, putting them back into their default chase position. Heading into the middle frame, the Oilers had to get more pucks on net as they still too often look like they’re waiting for the perfect play to come together rather than getting greasy in the crease. Thankfully, the universe must have been relaying my thoughts to the bench as Nugent-Hopkins evened things up after quickly tucking in a garbage goal from in tight near the front of the crease. Not only did they score one from the blue paint, but the Oilers were also able to wrestle the lead away with a huge depth goal from Kyle Turris, capping out what was likely their best period of the year.

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Heading into the third up by a goal, the Oilers were going to be completely fine if they continued playing at the level they did through 40 minutes. By my eye, they seemed to get better as the game wore on and if they could keep that going then tucking away two points from this series opener was well within reach. Instead, however, the Oilers nearly allowed the wheels to fall off entirely, giving up a pair of goals to relinquish the lead and put themselves behind for the second time. Amazingly, those goals weren’t enough to squash the Oilers’ (read: McDavid’s) spirits as they rallied for two quick ones in the dying minutes to not only even things up for a second time but to actually steal a win right before the final buzzer sounded. All-in-all, it was the kind of rollercoaster game that was both insanely fun to watch and infinitely stressful at the same time, but thankfully, the night ended with the right guys coming out on top. Those are two huge points.

The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied the game up (1-1) early in the second period after he drove to the net and knocked a loose puck through traffic and past Brossoit.
  • I thought the third line was kind of having a rough night up until the point when they put the Oilers up by a goal (2-1) after Zack Kassian found Kyle Turris with some open ice in the high slot where he was wide open to bury his first goal as an Oiler.
  • Kailer Yamamoto has an engine that won’t stop and I will never get tired of talking about it, which is why I’m always pumped to see him get rewarded with a goal (3-3). I can’t tell you exactly how many times he grabbed my attention with his hard work and hustle but it happens so often I should probably just set up an evergreen point for him here in the Wrap Up.
  • Even though Leon Draisaitl has seven points (2G, 5A) on the season, it felt like it was only a matter of time before he started tacking ginos onto his totals as well. Thankfully, that goal came at the perfect time as Draisaitl was able to slap home the game-winner with only 0.7 seconds left on the clock, snatching a point away from the Jets right before the buzzer.
  • You have to think that Connor McDavid is pissed off with the way things have been going and he certainly played like it in the series opener against the Jets. From the opening faceoff to the final buzzer, McDavid was flying all over the ice and it’s almost unfortunate that he ‘only’ wound up with three assists on the night because he definitely could have had more.
  • A seventh game meant a seventh straight start for Mikko Koskinen, and the pressure was on for him to provide the kind of netminding that gave his team a chance to win. To me, Koskinen has been passable to this point, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t still room for some serious improvement. Kostco is still allowing too many softies and some point, you have to think the guys on the bench start worrying about it. Thankfully, Koskinen was up to the task against the Jets and the big man looked very steady between the pipes and made enough saves to allow his teammates to close out a huge win. Koskinen finished the night with 35 saves and a .921 save%.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi worked his way into a chance on the top line with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins and I think it’s safe to say the big man made the most of his opportunity. From start to finish, Puljujarvi looked really strong alongside McNuge and he was using that big body of his to drive the net, protect the puck, and create some space for the other two. With a little luck, Puljujarvi would have gotten a goal tonight but he’ll have to be happy with his third straight game with an assist.
  • I thought the Nurse-Bear pairing was very effective for the Oilers in all three areas of the ice — they played 23:41 and 21:59 respectively — which was very nice to see as these two guys easily play the most minutes of anyone on the back end and do it against the toughest matchups.
  • Oilers won 51% of the faceoffs and you guys know how happy that makes me.
  • Pionk sounds like what the donkey says.

THE FACE PALMERS

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  • Adam Lowry opened the scoring for Winnipeg (1-0) after his line successfully battled for a loose puck down low in the Oilers zone and fed it out front to the slot where the eventual goal scorer was waiting. Edmonton’s inability to clear the puck from behind their own goal line has been a real problem so far and that was the case again on Lowry’s goal.
  • Nikolaj Ehlers tied the game up late in the third period (2-2) after posting up in the high slot and teeing off on a one-timer that beat Koskinen through the legs. Ehlers has been red hot for the Jets so far this year, registering his fourth goal and seventh point on the campaign.
  • Blake Wheeler restored the Jets’ one-goal lead (3-2) with a powerplay marker late in the third period that he banked in off a sliding Kris Russell. Wheeler was trying to make a cross-ice pass but it, instead, bounced in for an own-goal.
  • After getting shut out on Friday night in Toronto, the powerplay responded with yet another 0/3 night. Might be time to send MacT down to the bench to supervise what’s going on here.
  • Not to be outdone, the Oilers killed off only one of two penalties they faced as the special teams struggles continue.
  • I don’t know what kind of sacrifice needs to be made to get Dominik Kahun a goal but I think I may head out into the streets to see what I can find. The guy needs my help and I’m committed to getting it to him.
  • This was another tough outing for Adam Larsson and I wonder how long it will be before Tippett gives him a night to watch from the press box. It seems like every time he’s out there, he has no idea what to do with the puck and that lack of confidence is costing his team zone exits and all kinds of chances against.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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