Oh captain, my captain. Final Score: 4-3 Oilers in OT
With home-ice advantage locked up and the McCentury now behind us, I really didn’t know what to expect from this two-game series against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs still hadn’t locked up their playoff spot and the Oilers are already in, which made me wonder how much the idea of keeping everyone healthy would factor in here. Is Dave Tippett more of a business as usual kind of guy or would he give his big boys an easier night with reduced minutes and overall expectations? In the early going, Tippett sure didn’t seem like he was going to skip shifts for either McDavid or Draisaitl, and that decision gave Montreal the kind of problems you’d expect them to have when those two are playing at their best. With McDrai each centering their own line, covering the Oilers became that much more difficult and the boys were able to manufacture all kinds of quality scoring chances for themselves. Even though the Habs managed to get on the board first, their advantage was short-lived as Edmonton was able to rebound with a pair of timely goals to wrestle the lead away before the first period was over. It wasn’t a perfect start, but it was a pretty damned good road period.
Moving through the second period, the back-and-forth pendulum kept on swinging as both sides did a good job of firing pucks on net, working for chances, and trying to make something happen. While neither side was really able to pull momentum into their corner, it was not for a lack of effort but rather that this game was fair evenly played. The goalies were solid but not unbeatable, the refs weren’t calling much of anything, and it felt like the kind of game where the team that was able to limit their mistakes was going to be the one to win. And after trading goals in the middle frame, the Oilers were able to carry their one-goal lead into the third period with an excellent chance of closing out the win provided that they could continue to push forward while also keeping their defensive details tight. Unfortunately, that is not what happened as the Oilers seemed content to sit back and try to weather any storms thrown their way rather than nailing the coffin shut with another goal or two, and as we’ve seen many times before in this scenario, the Canadiens were able to get the equalizer they needed to get the game to OT.
The good news is that the Oilers wouldn’t get burned too badly for their late mistake because the Dynamic Duo was able to hook up in the bonus period to send McDavid in alone and finish off the win.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Less than a minute after the Canadiens opened the scoring, James Neal responded with the equalizer (1-1) after he snuck a quick shot through a crouching Jake Allen from the side of the net. Neal has been really good since getting back into the lineup with regularity and having him find his scoring touch as we head into the playoffs can only be a good thing.
- Just past the midway point of the first period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers the lead (2-1) after an accidental Yamamoto puck bobble ended up on his stick with a wide open net to put it into. RNH is a guy that needs to get going before the playoffs so I’m hoping that tonight’s goal will be another step towards getting his confidence back from the past few seasons.
- Dominik Kahun restored the Oilers lead (3-2) after a little dose of McDavid magic gave him the opportunity for a tap-in from the goal crease. McDavid made a beautiful little dangle on the Habs defender, fed Kahun in the crease, and this will probably go down as one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.
- Connor McDavid got the game winner in OT (4-3) after Draisaitl found him for the breakaway and he made Jake Allen look silly with that filthy little delay deke thing he does. McDavid finished the night with two more points on the pile to bring his total to a staggering 102 points in 54 games.
- How about another casual two point night for Leon Draisaitl? I know his goal-scoring streak ended but that doesn’t mean you can keep the guy off the scoresheet.
- After what can only be described as a disastrous start in his last time out, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes and looking to shake off an NHL record that he really doesn’t want to be associated with. To his credit, I thought Kostco played pretty well for the Oilers and he made the saves you’d expect your starter to make up until he gave up that horrible goal to Lehkonen from the boards. Thankfully, that mistake wouldn’t burn the Oilers too badly and Koskinen was able to wrap up the win. Koskinen finished with 25 saves and a .893 save%.
- Shout out to Ryan McLeod for picking up his first NHL assist on James Neal’s first-period goal! I love this kid so far and I’m happy to see him get rewarded for his hustle.
- I liked the game that Adam Larsson and Dmitry Kulikov played as the shutdown pairing for the Oilers. I thought both of the guys played tough minutes and it was nice to see them shut the Habs down effectively, especially since they’ll be doing some heavy lifting in the postseason.
- The Oilers’ PK remained red hot as they were able to take care of both of Montreal’s chances with the man advantage.
- How could we ever dream of heading into the rest of our nights without knowing that the Oilers won an inspiring 64% of the faceoffs? That was a close one, friends.
- The Corsi Gords are sure to be pleased when they check the Internet machine and see that the Oilers outshot the Canadiens by a 35-28 margin.
- When you have the two best players on the planet, the only option is to make a t-shirt that reflects their brilliance. Shine bright, boys. Pick up the Dynamic Duo tee here.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jake Evans opened the scoring with his first goal in 40 games after Tyson Barrie got caught with a bad pinch at the opposing blue line, allowing Montreal to break in on an odd-man rush. Once there, Evans made a nice move on Nurse and ripped a shot up and over Koskinen on the glove side. I know people will rip Kostco for the glove-side goal but my problem with the play started with the ill-advised pinch by Barrie.
- Paul Byron tied the game at two apiece after the Habs were rushing into the zone and he seemingly got lost in the Oilers’ defensive coverage before charging towards the net and roofing his backdoor opportunity.
- Artturi Lehkonen tied the game up at three apiece with an absolute disaster of a goal from the boards that Mikko Koskinen needs to stop 100% of the time. To make matters worse, the Oilers got a break a few minutes earlier when they challenged another Lehkonen goal and got it overturned, so it was a real bummer to see them squander that advantage.
- I thought the Oilers did too much sitting back and waiting for something to happen in the third period and they were very lucky to have the first goal by Lehkonen called back even though he was waaaaaaay offside.
- I’m not sure why the Oilers got only one powerplay chance tonight, but unfortunately, they were unable to do anything with it.
- I hope Evan Bouchard gets all of the best snacks since he’s not allowed to play right now.
First shot save!! pic.twitter.com/KhoKYH0D14
— x-TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) May 10, 2021
Fitting that Ryan McLeod (no teeth) gets his first NHL point off of James Neal’s goal (full set of impeccably white teeth)
— x – Adam (@OilersAdam) May 10, 2021
— X-Kennedy (@kennedystrash) May 10, 2021
Now we’ll never be able to convince eastern media that he’s Hart worthy if they keep scoring without him!
— x – 🌋⛏Wacke Geologist ⛏🌋 (@geology24_7) May 10, 2021
I love that the Oilers are in a position to offer them no help at all! 😂😂😂
— x – Chris Quick (@cq_2) May 11, 2021
The thread I never knew I couldn’t live without
— x – Bobby Brizzle (@BobbyBrizzle) May 11, 2021
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