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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Oilers @ Jets: Win One

The Edmonton Oilers are now in a must-win situation. It might be too late as they trail the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 in their opening round series after blowing a 4-1 lead in the third period and allowing three goals in 3:03. Edmonton had played excellent for the first 51:11 until Josh Archibald, who has been very good in the series, let his emotions get the best of him and took a needless clipping penalty.

The Jets scored on the ensuing powerplay and then scored twice in 16 seconds just over two and a half minutes later to tie the game. Oilersnation was in shock, and many had an eerie feeling of “here we go again.”

— This third-period collapse was similar to game five in the second round against the Anaheim Ducks in 2017. Edmonton led 3-0 with four minutes remaining. Ryan Getzlaf scored at 16:44, Cam Fowler at 17:19 before Rickard Rakell tied the game at 19:45. Corey Perry won it in overtime. It was a brutal loss, but Edmonton rebounded with a 7-1 victory two night later. Edmonton doesn’t have time to feel sorry for themselves. They need to rebound and find a way to win tonight.

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— Edmonton was in complete control in game three. When Jujhar Khaira scored to make it 4-1 the Oilers were outshooting the Jets 31-20. The Shots were 34-22 when Archibald took his penalty that gave the Jets a chance. For 51 minutes Edmonton controlled the game, but they couldn’t close it out. They crumbled at the most critical time of the game.

— Archibald’s penalty opened the door for the Jets, but there were other factors. Giving up a powerplay goal should not have led to the next two. Yes, it gave Jets life, but you need to stop that. Edmonton needed a shift from one line to turn the tide and it didn’t happen. I didn’t like the response from the rest of the team, but ultimately Archibald can’t take that penalty. A former NHLer text me after the Jets tied it.

“Archibald terrible f&$%ing penalty to start all this. I would lose it on that guy,” he wrote. Momentum is real, and you don’t know what can ignite it, but you surely never want to spark it for the opposition.

— Some believe the play-in round against Chicago wasn’t the “real” playoffs because it wasn’t the top 16 teams. I can understand stand that to an extend, but I also think a series that sends you home or to the next round is still considered playoffs. If you agree with the former, then you have to be concerned with the fact Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has no goals and four assists in 16 playoff games in 2017 and 2021. If you see the latter, then RNH scoring eight points in four games calms your concern. Either way, RNH needs to make an appearance in this series. He hasn’t done anything offensively.

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Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse had some rough patches last night. Bear, who is usually very good handling the puck, was fighting it all night. If Bear wants to be a top-pairing defender in the playoffs he needs to get a bit quicker. He is very young and many players improve their speed or edges, and I suspect that is an area he focuses on in the off-season. He’s only played 132 regular season games, so patience is needed. It is rare that young D-men excel in top-pair roles early in their career. I’m not down on Bear, just reminding people the differences of playoff hockey and why expectations for Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov need to be realistic. They could all be very good, but it it unlikely they will be difference makers right away in the playoffs.

— Tyson Barrie and Slater Koekkoek were exceptional as a pair last night. They weren’t on the ice for a goal against, and Koekkoek was on for two goals scored and Barrie one. Koekkoek was on the ice for 16 shots for and three against, while Barrie was on for 14 for and three against. They were excellent and having Barrie away from Nurse provided more offence from the blueline. Barrie has been excellent in this series. He hasn’t been on for a goal against, and all his possession numbers are outstanding. I’m still perplexed why many feel he is easily replaceable. Edmonton can’t overpay him, but at the right price it could make sense to re-sign him.

Kailer Yamamoto had another glorious chance in overtime, but couldn’t finish. He can’t buy a goal right now. His effort has been very good, but he just can’t finish. It is amazing how much confidence can do for a player. When they are feeling it, the skilled guys can score almost at will, but when it dries up it feels like they will never score again. Yamamoto, unfortunately, is in the latter category right now.

— My wife is not a huge sports fan. She enjoys it and will watch maybe 5-10 games a year. But she loves the playoffs. She gets right into it, and last night she got up and went upstairs when the Jets tied it at four.  She said this as she marched up the stairs. “I don’t know how people watch games all year and aren’t permanently angry. This is awful.” She couldn’t watch rest of the game. After I did post-game zoom interviews I went upstairs and she was was texting with one of her girlfriends who wrote, “I don’t think I can give any more emotion to the Oilers.”

I asked this morning if my wife will watch game four. “Yes, even though I know it will be an unpleasant feeling, win or lose, for me,” she laughed. I sense many Oilers fans feel the same. The emotional rollercoaster you get from sports is hard to match, but the chance to feel happy and excited is likely what draws you back in.

— The last team to overcome a 3-0 deficit was the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. They lost 6-3 and 7-2 and then lost 4-3 in overtime in game three. They weren’t the better team in those first three games. They weren’t outshooting the San Jose Sharks and not getting rewarded. But suddenly they found their game and won 6-3, 3-0, 4-1 and 5-1. You never know when a series can shift.

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In 2010 the Philadelphia Flyers trailed Boston 3-0. The first three games were all close with Boston winning 5-4, 3-2 and 4-1 with an empty net goal. Then the Flyers stormed back. They won game four 5-4 in overtime, after allowing Boston to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining. Then they won 4-0 and 2-1, before winning game seven 4-3. The Bruins led 3-0 in game seven 14 minutes into the game, but the Flyers stormed back and won.

—There is something about having three-goal leads and the Oilers in the playoffs. They’ve been on both sides of unreal comebacks or gut-wrenching losses..

1982: Game three against Los Angeles. Oilers led 5-0 to start the third period against Los Angeles. The Kings made it 5-2, and then scored three goals in the final five minutes to tie the game and then won in OT. The Kings would win the series in five games.
1991: Game seven v. Calgary. Flames led 3-0, only to see Edmonton comeback and win 5-4 in overtime on Esa Tikkanen’s hat-trick goal.
1997 Game three v. Dallas. Stars led 3-0 with four minutes remaining in the game, before Doug Weight (16:00), Andrei Kovalenko (17:44) and Mike Grier (17:56) scored to tie it. Kelly Buchberger scored the OT winner for Edmonton.
2006: Game one Stanley Cup Final. Oilers led 3-0 with 23:37 remaining. Carolina scores four unanswered to lead 4-3, then Ales Hemsky ties it with 6:29 remaining before Rod Brind’Amour scores the winner with 28 seconds remaining when Ty Conklin and Jason Smith misplayed a puck behind the net.
2017: Game five against Anaheim. Details above.
2021: Last night game three.

— Other teams have had similar crushing defeats. The Bruins in game seven in 2010. Las Vegas in game seven against San Jose in 2019. They led 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining before losing in overtime. I know there are others as well. It is crazy how momentum can change in the playoffs.

— Edmonton can’t feel sorry for themselves or this series is guaranteed over. They can’t win four games tonight. They can only win one and give themselves a chance to play game five on Wednesday. The odds are low, but teams have overcome a 3-0 deficit twice since 2010 and six other times a team has come back when down 3-1 in a series.

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