Secondary scoring makes the world go around. Final Score: 4-3 Oilers in OT
All I could hope for when it came to tonight’s game was that the Oilers were as annoyed about the way they lost on Thursday night as the rest of us were. I wanted them to be angry. I wanted them to hate losing so much that they started this game like a house on fire, burning their way through anyone and anything that stood between them and the two points they desperately needed. A lot has been made about the Oilers’ work ethic and ability to stay motivated for 60 minutes, and from where I blog, there was no better opportunity to prove the haters wrong than right here against the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see some McMagic on a Saturday night in the midst of a pandemic against a team that pines for him? That’s what I thought.
As for the actual hockey game itself, the first thing I noticed was how both sides hit the ice with energy, but that it was the Oilers that looked especially good. The pace was high, the puck was moving, the boys were buzzin’ and it seemed almost inevitable that they were going to be able to cash in on at least one of the many chances they were throwing on net. Honestly, it was probably the best start this team has had all year. But as we all know, playing one good period does not equal a win and there was still plenty of time for the Leafs to make a move if the Oilers weren’t able to keep the hammer down or lock things down. As expected, Toronto upped their desperation levels and threw counterpunches Edmonton’s way until they were able to land a couple of them, clawing their way back from a two-goal deficit and into a tie game with 20 minutes to play.
With the game tied and only a period left to play, this felt like kind of night where the team that made the last mistake would lose, and it was up to the Oilers to do what they could to make Toronto play defence and force them to make mistakes. Fan stress levels peaking as the period wore on, both teams had moments that looked like they were going to put this one to bed after manufacturing scoring opportunities that required some big saves to deny. It was exciting, and it was stressful. With the way the third period went, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see either side close it out based on the back-and-forth flow, but at the same time, it was almost fitting to need the bonus period to find a conclusion. Just as it was fitting to have Connor McDavid score the winner off of a beautiful pass from Leon Draisaitl.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- After plenty of chances and close calls over the first nine games, Dominik Kahun finally scored his first goal as an Oiler (1-0) on a second chance effort that came while he was falling near the front of the net. Initially, Kahun took a Draisaitl pass near the top of the slot and fired a puck on net that Andersen wasn’t able to handle, leaving the first-year Oiler a chance to hack away at the loose puck.
- Josh Archibald restored the Oilers lead in the dying seconds of the first period (2-1) after Connor McDavid set him up on a tee for a one-timer near the right side of the net. I’m pretty sure Andersen still doesn’t know what happened because the pass from McDavid to Archibald was both sneaky and unstoppable.
- Connor McDavid put the Oilers up by two goals (3-1) on the powerplay with what was arguably one of the best coast-to-coast goals that I’ve ever seen in my life. After picking the puck up in his own zone, McDavid ran through the Leafs like they were standing still and I cannot describe how happy it makes me to see him come up with another goal of the year candidate against the Leafs. McDavid added the game-winner in OT on a perfect deflection on a cross-ice pass from Draisaitl and it was a combination that had Oilers Twitter buzzin. The guy is a gun in a knife fight.
- Leon Draisaitl came into tonight’s game on a heater and I was looking for him to stay at the table as long as humanly possible. While he wasn’t able to keep the goal streak alive, he did get himself on the scoresheet with another pair of assists.
- Make it 10 straight starts for Mikko Koskinen but with Troy Grosenick getting activated to the roster, you’d have to think that the Big Finn gets a rest tomorrow in the series opener against Ottawa. As for tonight’s business at hand, Koskinen was looking for a rebound performance after beat for four in the opener on Thursday and finished his night with a .852 save%. Not perfect by any means, Koskinen was still very good for the Oilers tonight and he made a bunch of monstrous saves — he stopped some grade-A chances in the third and OT — that gave his team a chance to win. Koskinen finished the night with 26 saves and a .897 save%.
- Kailer Yamamoto is unbelievably sneaky with his stick and I love the way he pickpockets guys before they even know he’s around. It’s like he has a dedication to thievery and I enjoy it very much.
- I think Zack Kassian has looked so much better since being put on the third line with Turris and it’s been really encouraging to see over the past week or so. When he’s at his best, Kassian can be a real difference-maker and it’s nothing but good new for the Oilers that he’s starting to find his game.
- Slater Koekkoek has been quietly steady for the Oilers in basically every game he’s played so far, and I will start raising some kind of hell if he gets pulled out again for any reason other than injury.
- The powerplay came through with another goal (1/2) again tonight — McDavid did most of the work tbh — and it’s nice to see that the guys are starting to gel when up a man.
- You know how much I love to see the Oilers win 58% of the faceoffs.
- GIVE ME EVAN BOUCHARD!
- I gotta say, I’m a big fan of the way the reverse retros look on TV and it’s a damned shame that they’re only wearing them a few times this year. I’d much rather see those unis than the dark blue thirds from last season. Anyone disagree?
- I just have to say again how much I love me a 5pm start.
THE FACE PALMERS
- William Nylander tied the game up at one apiece on a nifty little dangle after the Oilers failed to get the puck out of their own zone, cashing in on a turnover that came within a few feet of their own blue line. This was another example of the Oilers being punished for being unable to clear zone when they had an excellent chance to do so.
- Auston Matthews pulled the Leafs back to within a single goal (3-2) after completing a very pretty passing play with Mitch Marner down low in the Oilers zone. Toronto moved the puck around very smoothly on this play and you have to give Matthews credit for being able to finish from such a weird angle.
- Only 68 seconds after Matthews narrowed the gap to one, Zach Hyman tied the game (3-3) with a powerplay goal after picking up a deflected puck right in front of the crease and pulling a nice little spin-move that allowed him to tuck it past an outstretched Koskinen.
- The Oilers lost Ethan Bear in the third period to an undisclosed injury after taking a seemingly harmless looking hit along the boards, and that is news they do NOT need right now as he is obviously a huge part of this team’s defensive group.
- Over the last four games, the penalty kill had allowed at least one goal while down a man and that’s a trend that needs to change. The Oilers have struggled mightily with their special teams so far this year, and a strong performance on the PK was exactly what the doctor ordered to ensure a split in this series. Unfortunately, we did get perfection from the PK but they did come up with a massive kill in the third period to keep the game tied and get things to overtime.
- According to Rob Tychkowski, tonight was the fifth time in 10 games that the Oilers allowed two goals against in under two minutes. That’s a ‘yikes’ stat, folks.
- Tyler Ennis had the chance to get his first of the season on a penalty shot in the first period but ended up firing the puck high and wide. Now, as a result, Ennis will have to pay Reid Wilkins back for the unreturned VHS tapes he rented from the CHED broadcaster at Blockbuster in the 90s.
- During the intermission, Sportsnet was running through highlights from other games and I started laughing to myself because I had almost been living my life as if the other three divisions didn’t exist.
— Marcotte (@tmarcotte19) January 30, 2021
On of the only players who can pick your pocket and also fit in your pocket
— Marcel Schoenhardt (@mschoenhardt) January 31, 2021
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) January 31, 2021
I could crush coal into diamonds right now
— Lucas🇨🇦Johnson (@McCanada2112) January 31, 2021
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