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Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: A win to build on

Oh, what a night. The Oilers mount a comeback to snag the 3-2 OT win. 

It was a weird one in Vancouver, to say the least. On one hand, you had the Edmonton Oilers. A depleted, desperate team looking to build off a semi-inspiring weekend win against their rivals down south. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returns to the lineup, but the team is still depleted.

On the other side of the rink, you had a Vancouver Canucks team deep in the weeds of a battle with COVID-19. Top-six studs like Conor Garland, Bo Horvat, and Tanner Pearson were all out of the lineup. In net? Vancouver turned to Spencer Martin. A career AHL’er third on the depth chart.

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A chaotic night all around, to say the least, but an important win the club can hopefully build on.

“It’s not a recipe for success,” said Connor McDavid after the team’s second straight comeback win, adding “but we can’t seem to find a way to score the first goal. If you can’t score the first goal, you have to be able to come back in games. The focus is on the start on Thursday.

“We want to get on a little roll here. That’s the main focus. It was a big win on Saturday, it’s a big win tonight. We got to keep marching forward.”

Edmonton came out with heat and played a tight first. They controlled the pace of play and fired 15 shots on net. Vancouver responded with 10 shots of their own as both goalies kept it tight.

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Early in the second, the Oilers slid. No shots in their first eight minutes and eventually, the Canucks broke open the scoring.

Elias Pettersson walked Nugent-Hopkins and left Warren Foegele’s jock in the rafters before using Cody Ceci as a partial screen roofing the shot. Moments later, Evan Bouchard made a bad read on the powerplay and gave Tyler Motte a clear breakaway chance before firing it five-hole.

You’d love to see a big save on either, but the players in front of Koskinen were equally to blame. While the Oilers responded and filled the shot count, hope faded with a two-goal deficit.

That is, until rookie Ryan McLeod opened the flood gates. He skated through the neutral zone and into the offensive end firing a shot short side that beat Martin. A chaotic powerplay chance moments later, Leon Draisaitl tied the game.

Both teams waltzed into overtime where captain Connor McDavid tipped one home for the win.

Edmonton’s schedule sees some reprieve. It starts Thursday when they play Nashville, a team both McDavid and Draisaitl have dominated against. A three-game road trip will see them take on the struggling Montreal Canadiens, an Ottawa Senators club who lost their top winger last night, and a still-strong Washington Capitals team.

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There’s no better time than now for the Oilers big two to get hot.

Backhanders…

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a beast. At 5×5, he led the team in shot attempt share (79.26%), expected goal rate (94.32%!!) and was tied for first in high-danger shot attempts (100%). His linemates in McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto had equally strong nights and I’d like to see that three stick.
  • Ryan McLeod had another great night for the Oilers. He scored the goal to get the team back in the game and looked dominant all over the ice despite only playing 9:25 last night. Here’s some key underlying numbers and how they rank relative to the rest of the Oilers forwards: 52.83 CF% – 4th, 52.63 GF% – 3rd, 46.61 xGF% – 10th, 63.64 HDGF% – 3rd. He’s a guy I want to see get more and more ice time.
  • Credit where it’s due, Mikko Koskinen stood on his head for the Oilers. Those first two goals are one’s I’d like to see him have, but he shut things down in the third and had a massive stop to keep it a 2-1 game. If that one went in, I’d bet it would’ve been a much different end to the game.

What they’re saying…

CanucksArmy post game: Spencer Martin makes 47 saves but the Canucks fall 3-2 in overtime against the Oilers

The Canucks were just simply outplayed in this game. They had a good second period and were able to set themselves up with a two-goal lead going into the third period. The Oilers came out hot in the third period and were able to fight their way back into the game with their stars being the reason for the tying goal and the game-winner.

The goaltender was a big reason for the Canucks getting one point in this game and he was pretty happy with how he performed even though the team wasn’t able to take home two points on the night.

“I feel really good right now but having a two-to-nothing lead going into the third period, you want to close that out every time,” said Martin in the post-game availability. “It’s frustrating to not be able to finish that off. But as far as technically, I felt good.”

Even with a goaltender who was standing on his head for a good portion of the game, the Canucks simply weren’t going to win this game as they gave up 46 scoring chances against and were only able to achieve 23 scoring chances of their own. McDavid and Draisaitl can only be held off the scoresheet for so long when your team is getting 46 scoring chances.

The Canucks will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. They should be content with scraping out a point in a game where though they had a two-goal lead, they were severely out-chanced. Here’s hoping for a Demko return as well as some other friendly faces coming off COVID protocol for Thursday. – Faber, CanucksArmy


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]