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GDB 3.0 Wrap Up: Love goals? This game was for you. Oilers close out a wild 6-5 win over the Ducks.

82-0, baby! Final Score: 6-5 Oilers

I didn’t really realize how much I’d enjoy watching the Oilers play any team outside of the six other Canadian franchises as much as I would until the puck dropped against the Ducks. As much as I was grateful to have hockey in 2021, seeing the Oilers play the same few teams over and over and over again got boring a lot faster than I expected, making the variety that comes with a normal NHL schedule is greatly appreciated. And even though it was the hated Anaheim Ducks that were the first team to visit Rogers Place from south of the border, I have to admit that I was almost happy to see them. Almost. Admitting that I miss the Ducks in any way, shape, or form would be an unforgivable act around these parts and I know that as well as anyone. Deep seeded hatred aside, this young Ducks team may not look much like the one that the Oilers played in the second round of the 2017 playoffs or any variation that annoyed us for many years beyond that, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to give up the grudge I’ve been crock potting for the last decade or so.

As I was reading Gregor’s GDB, I figured we were in line for an easy win based on the fact that the Oilers were coming off a big win against the Flames, had a couple of days rest since that game, and that the Ducks were coming into town on the second half of a back-to-back set. Instead, what we got was a punch-for-punch affair that saw both teams exchanging leads like they were prized Pogs back in the 90s. And if you ever thought the Oilers were going to get their acts together and run away with it, the Ducks found a way to claw their way back into a tie game and even the lead, knocking the pendulum back the other way. And to their credit, the Oilers kept finding ways to respond regardless of what the Ducks threw their way, and they needed to draw on that resilience a few times to pull this one out. As much as pond hockey nights like this one are fun to watch, I’m sure Dave Tippett and co would have much preferred not to have to wrestle the lead away three separate times before being able to cash in the two points, ya know? The good news is that the right team came out on top when the final buzzer sounded — wins are what it’s all about after all — but Gord knows the journey to get there wasn’t pretty.

At the end of the day, no one cares about how you won these early season games provided that the points are tucked away in the bank. And with the first homestand in the books, the Oilers find themselves with a perfect record even if the performances were anything but.

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The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Only moments after the Ducks grabbed the lead, Zack Kassian tied the game with a tap in goal that started with a nice forecheck by Warren Foegele followed by a perfect cross-crease pass to the tape by Nugent-Hopkins. It was the kind of response goal that only Connor and Leon have been able to score around here over the past couple of seasons, so it was very nice to see another depth goal coming in to tie things up. Kassian added a second goal (4-4) on the power play — no, for real, the second unit got on for once — as he got his stick on the puck in front of the net and changed its path on the way through the goaltender.
  • Connor McDavid gave the Oilers the lead (2-1) with a beautiful goal after he turned on the jets and picked up the puck with speed, beating Stolarz with a quick wrist shot down low.
  • Leon Draisaitl restored the lead (3-2) in the last minute of the first period with a power play snipe from his office near the faceoff dot. I don’t know how many goals he’s scored from that spot at this point in his career, but it seems to be an unstoppable play even though everyone in the building knows what’s coming. Draisaitl added an empty netter (6-4) late in the third period to wrap up the game and add the cherry on what was a four-point night for the former Hart Trophy winner.
  • Evan Bouchard gave the Oilers their third lead of the night with one of the oddest goals I’ve seen in quite some time. Bouchard chased a puck into the corner in the offensive zone and swung at it with his stick, re-directing the puck slowly towards the net where it took an incredible bounce over the line off of the goaltender’s skate. This goal wasn’t quite the BouchBomb blast that we all love seeing from Bouchard, but I’ll be the first to say it was just as beautiful. Dad had himself a whale of a game where he finished with 19:35 in TOI,  one goal, one assist, seven blocks, and six shots on goal.
  • Mikko Koskinen replaced Mike Smith with 8:25 left in the second period after Smith left the game and he was excellent in relief. Koskinen was called upon to make some big saves down the stretch and he rose to the challenge and shut the door, giving the Oilers the opportunity they needed to lock up a win. Kostco finished with 20 saves and a .952 save%.
  • That was a tidy little two-assist night for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
  • Once again, the Oilers got what they need from their power play as they were able to convert two goals on six chances when up a man.
  • The penalty kill was great once again, killing off Anaheim’s lone chance with the man advantage.,
  • If you love shots you’ll love knowing the Oilers outshot the ducks by a 37-36 margin.
  • As sure as the sun will rise, you’ve reached the portion of the Wrap Up where I tell you that the Oilers won 58% of the faceoffs?

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Kevin Shattenkirk opened the scoring (1-0) on the back of a pretty passing play that saw the Duck slice through the Oilers zone before finishing off the play with a beauty shot up and over Smith’s glove hand. The weird thing is that Shattenkirk scored a nearly identical goal late in the game (6-5) that beat Koskinen over the glove as well.
  • Only 15 seconds after McDavid gave the Oilers the lead, Sam Steel tied things up (2-2) after throwing the puck towards the net and getting a lucky break with a goal that Smith would certainly like back. Steel added another goal (4-3) in the second period that will end up on the highlight reels tonight after he grabbed the puck near the boards, walked Barrie, and made a strong move towards the middle of the ice, beating Smith with a deke.
  • Nicolas Deslauriers tied the game (3-3) on an odd-man rush where he picked up a cross-ice pass in the circle and beat Smith with a wrister between the arm and body.
  • There were too many giveaways in their own zone. I don’t know if guys were flying the zone a little bit early or what was going on there, but coughing up freebies in front of your own net and near the blue line aren’t ingredients in a recipe for success.
  • Mike Smith got a third straight start after playing very well against Calgary and Vancouver, but the threepeat was not in the cards as the veteran left the game midway through the second period with an injury. But before he left, Smith wasn’t exactly having the greatest night as he allowed four goals on 14 shots, not all of which were his fault but certainly his problem. Here’s hoping for good news when it comes to his injury. Smith finished the night with 11 saves and a .733 save%.
  • The Oilers took their foot off the gas near the end of the game and I don’t particularly like this ‘sit back and defend’ approach to closing out a win.
  • This was a rough night for Tyson Barrie as he was looking lost more often than not and it was interesting to see Dave Tippett give a bunch of his minutes to Evan Bouchard in the back half of the game. We all know that Barrie can be an adventure at the best of times, and tonight would be one of those games that he’d probably like to forget.
  • Kailer Yamamoto only played 10 minutes to go along with his -3 rating, and I don’t think I need to say much more than that.

SCORING SUMMARY

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