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The Day After: Hyman stays hot as Oilers topple Golden Knights

Zach Hyman took the shine right off of Vegas’ helmets.

Another two-goal performance from the Edmonton Oilers newcomer helped to propel his club to a decisive 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. His first tally came when the Oilers were already down 1-0 eight minutes into the game in thanks to Hyman occupying the front of the net on the powerplay.

His second, arguably the most important of the game, came when he ripped a wrist shot from the high slot.

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“He’s been huge. He works so hard, it’s contagious,” said teammate Zack Kassian. “You saw it in Phoenix and you saw it tonight — he can shoot the puck, he can score goals. It was a great pickup for us. It’s going to help tremendously.”

It’s that prowess that’s certainly rubbed off on those around him. The Oilers have been able to roll three lines with confidence this season and Hyman is a big part of that. He’s helped to solidify the Oilers second line as a line that can not only give strong minutes in their own zone, but in the offensive zone too.

He’s now up to five goals on the season in five games, four of which that have come on this two-game road trip alone. As I wrote about yesterday, he’s been everything the Oilers wanted and more.

Another Zack played a big role in the win, too. Kassian broke away from defenders at the blue line getting a clear lane to the net where he made a quick move to slip a puck through Robin Lehner’s five-hole in what would be the game-winning goal.

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He’s another player who came to town ready to work and he’s been making his presence felt on the Oilers’ third line.

“He’s been excellent,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett of Kassian. “He came into camp in great shape and he’s playing with purpose.”

That purpose has been important to his game, and the Oilers’. At times over the last year, Kassian’s game has fallen off. He’d look disinterested and would be oftentimes floating around the ice — a far cry from what he’s capable of as an NHL player.

He’s far from perfect, but he’s a big body who plays a fast, physical game. On top of that, he’s got surprisingly soft hands and has put them on display this year scoring three times in five games.

These Oilers are now the NHL’s only 5-0 team and are showing more and more they are the real deal. Vegas had a depleted lineup, sure, but the Oilers also were just coming off a game hours away and the Golden Knights knew that.

Vegas came out hot and heavy in the first and the Oilers were able to weather the storm all night long. They came back from two deficits to win the game and made a statement as a team that can make some noise this year.

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While Tippett said there are things to like in the team’s game early in the season, there’s also a lot of work yet to do. After all, the regular season is 82 games — not five.

“I like some of the things we’re doing as a team. We’re finding ways to win,” said Tippett. “Our goaltending has been solid (and) the added depth we have is really having an impact on our lineup.

“It’s still early, we’ve got some work to do and there’s things that can improve in our game. Every season is a different year.

“It feels a little different this year. We had a good training camp, got into the season ready to go, and were able to find some wins.”

Backhanders…

  • Evan Bouchard is the real deal. He got bumped up the depth chart to play alongside Darnell Nurse and didn’t look out of place whatsoever. They were the only two Oilers defencemen to be positives in both shot attempt share and expected goal share.
  • He did it! Connor McDavid actually drew a penalty. It was the first time it happened in 12 games dating back to last May and has played over 270 minutes since then.
  • Koskinen played much better than I hoped and expected on the road trip. He was busy both nights but held strong for the Oilers when they needed him to. This was a confidence-boosting few nights and it bodes well for the rest of the season.
  • The Oilers will be taking the next few days off in Vegas. By the sounds of it, the team will be doing some team bonding golfing and taking in the NFL game Sunday between the Las Vegas Raiders and visiting Philadelphia Eagles.

What they’re saying…

Coach Peter DeBoer said his team would need at least three goals to win. They got three, including Nolan Patrick, Nicolas Hague and Nicolas Roy with their first of the year each. But the other side of the equation is if you give up four at the other end, you’re likely going to lose.

Sure enough, the Golden Knights allowed too many to the Edmonton Oilers, who leaned on their top guns to get the job done in what ultimately was a 5-3 win at T-Mobile Arena.

The Oilers remain undefeated and atop the Pacific Division at 5-0 while the Golden Knights fell to 1-3 and have dropped three straight since winning on opening night back on Oct. 12.

“You can’t give up four goals and win in this league,” DeBoer said.

An empty net goal by Leon Draisaitl accounted for the insurance fifth tally. But the Oilers had too much time and space to make plays and that’s a sure recipe for disaster.

“We’ve got to get our goals against down,” DeBoer said. “We defended a lot better tonight but they’re an opportunistic team and they find ways to score.” – Steve Carp, Vegas Hockey Now.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]