Not the result we wanted but that was a hell of a season. Final Score: 6-5 Avalanche in OT
The reality of the situation when you’re down by three games in a playoff series is that you’re probably not going to be hanging around for much longer. As we’ve all heard countless times today, only four teams have ever come back from a 3-0 hole but that wasn’t going to stop me from cheering for a win anyway. Be damned what the odds say, I wanted to see a win in Game 4 to extend the series regardless of how many more days it got us. So when the Oilers gave up a power play goal on the back of a lazy slashing penalty by Kassian, I’ll be the first to admit that my hope candle started to flicker a little. That’s not to say that the Oilers were playing poorly as a whole — I mean, the power play was a real problem but that’s a whole other conversation — but that fact that they couldn’t get anything past Francouz again had that one-goal lead looking bigger than it was. I find that Edmonton can’t seem to relax until they’ve scored at least a goal, so to go through another period in an elimination game without one was a real concern.
Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to crank up their urgency by about 50 notches because they did not look like they were playing in an elimination game. They looked more like they were playing in a random Tuesday night game against Columbus in November — it wasn’t good. Yet, even though they were down by a goal and desperately needed to make something happen, the boys nearly made it to the midway point of the second before even registering a shot on goal. Thankfully, the lack of offence didn’t burn them or put them even further behind because it wasn’t long later after I had written that last sentence that Zach Hyman came up clutch with a nifty backhander to beat Francouz after Draisaitl put him in all alone. And almost exactly as I mentioned earlier, the Oilers seemed to settle down quite a bit after that first goal went in and it allowed them to keep pushing forward until they were eventually able to pop two quick ones past Francouz in the dying moments of the frame. All of a sudden, the Oilers went from trailing by a goal to up by a pair in the blink of an eye.
Up by a pair with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers were in a solid spot if they could only keep the pedal to the floor rather than falling back into some kind of zone defence to try and protect the lead. It just makes good sense to keep attacking and not allow your opponent to spend any time in your end, ya know? So when the Avalanche halved the lead only 31 seconds into the period, my heart skipped a beat as I couldn’t have imagined a worse start to the most important period of the season. The good news is that Zach Hyman was able to get it back in a hurry to restore the two-goal lead and our faith in an extended series. Once again, I thought we were in good shape. That’s when the bright sides ended, however, as the Oilers imploded to the tune of three straight goals against that were a result of stoppable shots going in and horrific decisions with the puck coming back to haunt them. Frankly, I thought this game was over. Then, with just under four minutes to play, Zack Kassian tied the game once again after finding a loose puck in the crease and knocking it over the line a fraction of a second before the Avs defender was able to clear.
Once the game got to overtime, I was having a hard time keeping my nerves together as I felt like this game was going to end on a weird one but I didn’t necessarily expect it to happen so quickly. Before the Oilers really even had a chance to get anything going offensively, the Avs got the winner on a deflected puck by Arturri Lehkonen that kicked out off of Smith’s pads and right to his stick. At the end of the day, the Oilers had two separate two-goal leads in the third period but couldn’t keep the Avalanche from pulling their way back into the game, and it was that lack of polish when they needed it most that proved to be the difference. Regardless of the result or the shit we’ll take because of it, I’m incredibly proud of this hockey team and want to say a quick thank you to all of you for making this such a fun season. We had ups and downs and twists like we could never imagine, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome had we not done it together.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Hell of a season, boys.
- Zach Hyman tied the game (1-1) with a beautiful backhand deke on Francouz after Draisaitl found him with some time, space, and a lane to charge towards the net. Hyman added another goal early in the third period (4-2) on a one-timer from the circle after Draisaitl found him with a perfect pass to his wheelhouse that he got just enough on to beat Francouz up high over his head as he was sliding across.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers the lead (2-1) late in the second period after he picked up an errant pass, walked in alone on Francouz, and beat the goalie with a perfectly executed deke to his backhand.
- Connor McDavid gave the Oilers some insurance (3-1) with a power play goal late in the second period after he picked up a pass from Draisaitl in the circle and rifled a bullet through Francouz low on the glove-hand side.
- After giving up three straight goals to blow the lead, Zack Kassian tied the game once agaion (5-5) when he found a loose puck lying in the crease after Draisaitl’s shot was stopped but not held onto.
- I can’t say enough about the game Leon Draisaitl had as it was abundantly clear that he was battling through all kinds of pain in his leg/ankle/whatever. Yet, even though the guy could barely skate at times, he still finished the night with four points. Incredible.
- Shout out to Dylan Holloway for making his NHL debut in what can only be described as insane circumstances. I know he didn’t play a whole lot (3:27 in TOI) but this was only the first step in what is sure to be a fantastic career for this young man.
- At least we won 59% of the faceoffs? Win? Anyone?
THE FACE PALMERS
- Cale Makar opened the scoring (1-0) with a power play goal after his wrist shot from the point made its way through traffic before beating Smith high on the glove side. Shout out to Zack Kassian for the lazy slashing penalty to set the tone early.
- Devon Toews pulled the Avs back to within one (3-2) only 31 seconds into the third period as his point shot took a friendly bounce into the net off of Cody Ceci’s shinpad. The tough part of this play happened in the seconds leading up to Toews’ shot when the Oilers had a chance to clear but couldn’t get the puck over the blue line.
- Gabriel Landeskog halved the lead for a second time (4-3) after Mike Smith’s clearing attempt went to no one in particular and chaos ensued. While Smith wandering way out of his crease wasn’t directly responsible for what happened, the fact that he didn’t hit his mark with the pass resulted in the Avs turning the puck around in the zone and chasing in on the scramble. It is amazing that he was able to score after rolling around on the ice like a dying animal in the first period, though.
- Nathan MacKinnon tied the game (4-4) with a wrister to the top shelf after he blew past Cody Ceci in the moments following his horribly dirty kneeing penalty on Hyman. Unfortunately, the Oilers weren’t able to punish him for the dirtiness and MacKinnon tied the game on his very first shift out of the box.
- Mikko Rantanen gave the Avalanche a late lead (5-4) on the power play after he was able to sneak a wrister through Mike Smith’s legs from the circle. This one hurt because it was absolutely a stoppable shot, at least from my side of the TV screen.
- Arturri Lehkonen won the game for Colorado (6-5) after picking up his own rebound on what looked to be a high stick but was promptly called a good goal after a quick review.
- Jesse Puljujarvi looked like he hurt his shoulder in the second period after he fell awkwardly into the boards near the bench. Puljujarvi went straight to the dressing room after the fall but was able to return for the third period.
- The Oilers didn’t get nearly enough done on the power play as they were only able to score on 1-of-5 chances with the man advantage.
- Equally as painful was the fact that the penalty kill allowed goals on both shorthanded situations they faced. Special teams played a huge difference in this one.
- Another game, another Corski loss after being outshot 42-35.
- “I tore my hip flexor,” -Darnell Nurse. Unreal. I have no idea how he played through that.
- I’ll get to this another day but we needed smarter decisions from our goaltender in an elimination game. Smith finished the night with 36 saves and a .857 save%.
— x-Adrian Fernando (@Browndalorian) June 7, 2022
TBH, they were probably shocked they got 2 PPs in one period
— William Mikespeare (@tpr0012) June 7, 2022
This game feels like prison
— Taco Bella (@bellaatheplug) June 7, 2022
Dylan Holloway has played in the conference final before Auston Matthews or Johnny Gaudreau.
— Eric Friesen 🏒 (@EricJFriesen) June 7, 2022
— Avry's Sports Show (@Avry) June 7, 2022
Draisaitl has more points in this game than he has working limbs.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) June 7, 2022
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