The Edmonton Oilers have excised the first-round demons and are heading to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time in five years.
It had been a treacherous road for the Oilers since they beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2017 playoffs, but they finally did it.
It took a hard-fought seven games against a gritty LA Kings team, but with the hockey world watching Saturday night, they put on a clinic on home ice securing a 2-0 win.
Cody Ceci was Edmonton’s hero breaking open the scoring in the second period. He became the first Oilers defenceman to score on home ice in a game since Lee Fologin did so in 1984 against the Calgary Flames in the Smythe Division Finals.
While Ceci was the one who scored the crucial goal, it was once again Connor McDavid who stole the show. Just 22 seconds into the game he laid a devastating hit on Sean Durzi, and he didn’t let up all night long. The physicality stayed, and the incredible play came out, too.
Every time he stepped on the ice the Oilers dominated play. He has hit another level in his NHL career and has, almost by himself, taken the Oilers into the second round. On top of his assist in finding Ceci, McDavid poured it on the Kings every single time he was on the ice.
And with four minutes to go, he did it all himself to put the game out of reach. He took a breakout pass into the Kings zone, lost the puck driving to the net, but circled the net grabbing his own rebound before firing a backhander home.
By the end of the game, he played 26:24 and when he was on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers took 40 shot attempts on net, controlled 62.5 percent of the shot attempts, outscored the Kings 2-0, and controlled 72.36 percent of the expected goal share.
He formed an even more dominant line with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. They played 14:04 at 5×5 taking 33 shot attempts along with 17 scoring chances. They controlled 73.33 percent of the shot attempts, 80.95 percent of the scoring chances and 77.12 percent of the expected goal share.
McDavid was matched up against Anze Kopitar, one of the league’s best two-way centers in the last decade, and took him to town. The Oilers controlled 58.06 percent of the shot attempts, 62.5 percent of the scoring chances and 69.37 percent of the expected goals with McDavid on the ice against Kopitar at 5×5.
It’s safe to say this has been a career-defining series for McDavid, who has elevated his game in every way to new levels in this seven-game spat.
It wasn’t just him, however. There was a commitment to every square inch of the ice by every single player. The forwards were resilient in their backchecks, the defencemen stood strong denying zone entries, and the Oilers broke up cycles and turned it the other way.
There was support for puck carriers everywhere and truth be told, no Oilers player could be stopped. They followed their leader into battle, and now head to the second round where anything can happen.
Enjoy it, Oilersnation!