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GDB 9.0 Wrap Up: Spotting a two-goal lead was a bad idea, Oilers fall 4-3 in series opener

I’m upset. Final Score: 4-3 Leafs

When the Oilers were in Toronto last week, I thought that they missed out on a golden opportunity to sweep the series because they simply couldn’t get out of their own way. In the second game of that set, the Oilers had a chance to take advantage of a banged-up Leafs team, but they were sloppy in all three zones, struggled with their special teams, and let two points slip out of their hands as a result. Needless to say, it was a frustrating loss and no one was interested in a sequel. More importantly, the Oilers desperately need to get themselves away from this win one/lose one rhythm they’re locked into right now because it’s not going to help them to gain ground in the standings and time is running out. You can say it’s still early all you want, but I’m starting to get stressed out and that nonsense wasn’t supposed to happen already. Not to mention, losing to the Leafs is about as annoying as it gets and I’d always rather avoid that situation entirely, if possible.

As if powered by Klefbom’s heavenly abs, the Oilers legitimately looked ready from the moment the puck dropped and started the game with energy and pace. The boys were buzzing and it was beautiful. In fact, I might be so bold as to say it was kind of start that I’ve written about in this very space hundreds of times by now. They had the jump, all they needed was a goal. But also as I’ve written here many times before, that much needed first goal never came, gifting the Leafs an opening to capitalize on a mistake and grab a lead of their own. Down by two goals, the Oilers had to find a way to be aggressive while simultaneously taking care of their own zone and stop the bleeding, both of which have been problems they haven’t been able to solve all season. Thankfully, the powerplay came through with a big goal towards the end of the middle frame that gave us all a hope and a prayer that Edmonton could still make something out of this.

Down by a single goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers had a chance to scrape a point or two out of this game but it was going to take an all-in effort from everyone and maybe even a goal or two from people not named McDavid or Draisaitl. While they were able to get the effort and goals they needed — I’d go so far as so say that third period was about as exciting as it gets — they weren’t able to plug the massive hole that is their defensive coverage. More specifically, they couldn’t stop themselves from going straight to the penalty box after grinding out a tying goal. The Oilers came back to tie the game up twice in the final period, and both times it happened they negated their own work with an avoidable penalty and an even worse kill that attempt couldn’t get the job done. To me, this was a game that could have added points to their standings total and the opportunity was squandered… again.

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The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Leon Draisaitl got the Oilers on the board (2-1) with a late second period powerplay gola after smashing home a one-timer on a perfectly placed pass from Connor McDavid that the reigning MVP wasn’t about to miss. Draisaitl added a second powerplay goal to in the third period tie the game up (2-2) after he made his way towards the front of the net, chipping in the loose puck through Andersen. The goal extended Draisaitl’s goal-scoring streak to five games, further reminding the rest of the league that he’s still very good at hockey.
  • Zack Kassian picked the absolute perfect time to score his first goal of the season (3-3), didn’t he? After Adam Larsson caused a turnover in the Leafs zone, the Oilers were able to turn things around before throwing the puck towards the net where a waiting Zack Kassian was wide open to flip a shot up and over Andersen.
  • McDavid has been putting on a show over the last few games and I felt like that was going to be bad news for the Leafs in game three of their season series. While that wasn’t necessarily the case on this night, the captain was once again able to extend his point streak with another pair of assists on the board.
  • After scoring a pair of goals on the powerplay in Winnipeg on Tuesday night, I was hoping that some of that firepower would carry over and was pleased to see that it did… kinda. The Oilers were able to get two powerplay goals tonight, which would be great under normal circumstances but probably not on a night when you had seven chances and ultimately lost the game.
  • Sad about the loss but happy about winning 53% of the faceoffs.
  • Won the shot battle by a 29-27 margin.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Jason Spezza opened the scoring for Toronto with a goal that will haunt Mikko Koskinen’s dreams, or at least my dreams.
  • William Nylander extended the Leafs’ lead (2-0) after the puck found him right near the edge of the crease where he wasted no time in smashing it up and over Koskinen. I have no idea why Nylander had no one around him by a four-foot radius, but it’s hard to blame the goaltender a guy like this has all the time in the world.
  • Only 56 seconds after Leon Draisaitl tied the game at two, Wayne Simmonds restored the Leafs’ lead (3-2) with a powerplay goal of his own. Simmonds was parked in front of the net and found a way to get his stick on a Mitch Marner wrister, deflecting the puck perfectly past Koskinen.
  • Auston Matthews gave the Leafs their third lead of the night with another powerplay goal that came as a result of the Oilers being unable to clear their own zone.
  • After what I thought was a strong start, the Oilers looked like they had very little confidence when it came to actually shooting the puck at the net. I don’t know why they’d rather try to force cross-ice passes through than actually shooting at the goaltender but it’s a habit they just can’t seem to shake and it’s driving me crazy.
  • Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for an NHL-leading ninth straight start, and I was starting to wonder how much gas the guy has left in the tank. That’s not to say that I don’t expect an NHL goaltender to be in great shape, but I do wonder how long this run is going to go on before Tippett is able to get him a break. From where I blog, I thought the big Finn looked tired tonight as he got beat for a couple of goals that both he and I would surely like back. Koskinen finished the night with 23 saves and a .852 save%.
  • The Oilers have given up at least one powerplay goal in three straight games leading up to round three against the Leafs, and I was hoping to see that streak come to an end. Unfortunately, that dream was not meant to be as they gave up a PP goal that ended up being the game-winner late in the third period. Gross.
  • Oilers were outduelled in net by a guy that finished the night with a .897 save%. Take that information as you wish.

SCORING SUMMARY

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#GOODCONTENT

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