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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 18.0 Wrap Up: McDavid gets to 500, Oilers split the series with 3-2 win

Oh captain, my captain. Final Score: 3-2 Oilers

I’m not going to lie to you guys, even as the puck was dropping on the second half of this series against the Jets, I still don’t think I was over the annoyance of Monday night’s loss. That game was there for the taking and had it not been for an array of blown assignments, needless mistakes, and the inability to get a save, we could have been watching one of the Oilers’ most dominant offensive nights of the season. Instead? Sadness. Anger. Saltiness. If I’m being honest, I spent the last few hours leading up to puck drop hoping that the Oilers show up even half as annoyed about derailing their winning streak as you folks were in the comments section. I wanted them to keep the same ‘shoot from everywhere’ mentality, but only if it meant that they were taking care of the details in their own end first.

As far as ways to start a hockey game go, the Oilers couldn’t have done much better for themselves than the two goals they scored in the opening 4:06 of this one. Even beyond the early lead, the Oilers were hustling, they were shooting, and Mike Smith was making the saves they needed — what else could we want? As it turns out, the only answer I could think of was for Edmonton to stay out of the box. I don’t care how well you start, having to kill off penalties all night can be enough to deflate any balloon, but with the Hockey Gords smiling down upon us, the boys weren’t burned too badly by all their time in the box. That said, it’s also hard to complain too much when not even the refs knew what they were calling. Who knew that the zebras would want to be so heavily involved?

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With the special teams battle tied at one goal per side and the parade to the box seemingly never ending, the Oilers held the edge at even-strength which gave them a lead and some insurance with only 20 minutes left to play. On a good day, being up by a pair should be more than enough to close out a win, but when the refs are calling anything, everything, and nothing and the opponent has players that can burn you if given the chance, the Oilers’ road to victory was anything but certain. Case and point was the goal by Pionk only 1:28 into the third, which cut the lead to one and cranked the pressure up to 11, but thankfully, the Oilers managed to bend without breaking and did not give up more than the one goal. And while there were certainly tense moments as Winnipeg pushed for the tie, it never really felt like the game was spiralling out of control either and I don’t know that this would have been the case earlier in the season.

In the end, the Oilers won the battle at even strength, rolled with the punches, got some big saves, and found a way to grind out a victory and get two big points in the bank.

The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

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  • Jesse Puljujarvi got the Oilers on the board early (1-0) with a beautiful snipe of a goal that beat Hellebuyck up high before the goalie even knew what happened. I’ve gotta say, seeing Puljujarvi score goals like this makes me excited for what his future holds now that he’s back in Edmonton with another year of Finnish software upgrades.
  • Only 21 seconds after Puljujarvi opened the scoring, Leon Draisaitl extended the lead with a quick snapshot to the blocker side with an assist going to Tyler Ennis who was elevated to the second line in place of the struggling Kahun. Draisaitl added another goal (3-1) after burying a rebound into the top shelf on the powerplay as the second period was winding down to extend the lead to a pair.
  • Connor McDavid registered his 500th and 501st points in his 369th NHL game, and I want to take a minute to remind us all how lucky we are to have been able to watch every one of them. As he does on most nights, McDavid was buzzing against the Jets and it’s almost funny that he finished with only two points.
  • With the four points he’s registered over the last two games (2G, 2A), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is now back on pace for 69 points (nice) over an 82-game season. Remember, friends, this is not a player that you can replace easily or cheaply. #KeepNugeForever
  • I think it goes without saying that Mike Smith’s start on Monday night was less than ideal, causing some folks to be surprised that he was back in the crease for a mulligan in the series finale. To his credit, Smith came up big for the Oilers all night long and provided his team with the kind of goaltending they needed to close out the win. I know a lot of us questioned Tippett’s decision to go back to Smith, so I feel like I need to give the veteran netminder credit for making the most of the opportunity. Smith finished the night with 33 saves and a .943 save%.
  • I gotta give some love to Tyler Ennis for contributing almost immediately with an assist after getting the chance to start the game with Draisaitl and Yamamoto.
  • I like having Gaetan Haas in the lineup more than Devin Shore and I don’t care who knows it.
  • I’m going to go ahead and call the special teams battle a wash as each side scored one goal on the cluster of powerplay chances they each had.
  • You know I love faceoffs and the Oilers won 55% of them which makes me a happy blogger.
  • Dave Tippett got his 600th career win. Congrats, Tipp!

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Mark Scheifele pulled the Jets back to within a goal (2-1) with a powerplay goal on Winnipeg’s THIRD ATTEMPT OF THE PERIOD. Now, that said, I know the call on Nurse that led to Scheifele’s goal was a complete trash fire but my point is that the boys spent too much time killing penalties early on.
  • Neal Pionk is really starting to annoy me as this season series wears on. Not only is he effective for the Jets on the defensive side of the puck, but he also scored a big goal (3-2)nearly in the third period to cut the Oilers’ lead in half.
  • Has anyone checked that Kyle Turris hasn’t been abducted by some kind of alien kinda like in Men in Black when that cockroach took over Edgar’s body? I’m willing to entertain all theories at this point.
  • Killing all of those penalties meant that Evan Bouchard played only 9:10 tonight which is a real shame because I bet money on him getting more than 2.5 shots on goal. Le sigh.
  • When is Caleb Jones going to play? Does he have sideburns we don’t know about?
  • Oilers were outshot 35-30 and a sizeable portion of those came while down a man whereas the Edmonton couldn’t get much through in the same situation.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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