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That Momentum Thing

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
3 months ago
Momentum is one of those intangibles that can be difficult to quantify, but if Connor McDavid says the Edmonton Oilers have got some and are feeling it after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in a shootout Tuesday, who am I to argue? 
The Oilers have their second three-game winning streak of the season on the go as they try to extract themselves from the 2-9-1 hole they dug. As for McDavid, he’s already put a slow start by his standards behind with 12 points in his last three games and 15 in his last five. With 8-20-28, McDavid is rolling toward his familiar place at the front of the Art Ross Trophy pack like a runaway train. That’s the dictionary definition of momentum, no?
And while the win over the Knights, who knocked the Oilers out of the 2023 playoffs on the way to winning the Stanley Cup, wasn’t perfect – they coughed up a 4-2 lead in the final 6:30 to the champs who were playing their third game in four nights – they got the two points they needed and are 8-12-1 going into Winnipeg Thursday.
“It’s momentum,” McDavid said in the post-game scrum. “Definitely momentum in our room. I think we can feel it. I think we’ve liked what we’ve seen over the last three (games) and it’s something to build off of.”

STARTING THE ROLL

Nov 28, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) scores a goal during the shoot-out against Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson (36) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
McDavid’s heater isn’t the only factor at play in generating the momentum he talked about. The penalty killing has been much improved of late. Vegas didn’t get a sniff in five attempts and the PK hasn’t allowed a goal in 13 attempts in the last three games. On the flipside, the power play is 6-for-13 in the last three.
Evander Kane has goals in each of the last three games and has scored eight goals in his last eight games. Zach Hyman was ill last night and didn’t dress, but he’s scored 4-3-7 in his last three games. Leon Draisaitl was held off the scoresheet but had 3-2-5 in wins over Washington and Anaheim. Stopper Stuart Skinner has been in the crease for all three wins and seems to have settled in. Add it up and the Oilers have the chance to string together four straight wins for the first time since last April 5-13 when they face the Jets.
“Obviously they came back, but we showed some resiliency in the end,” said Mattias Ekholm, who had an assist and is playing the sound defensive game we got used to in the final 21 games of last season after he came over from Nashville. “Huge win for us. We’re working towards a game that can be successful every night.”
“We’re starting to get better performances from everybody these last couple games, and we just have to keep that rolling,” Kane said. “We’re not seeing big mistakes. We’ve limited the boo-boos, and we are obviously creating a lot more offence and putting the puck in the net. When you play a tighter game, you end up in the win column more than you know.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Whether you call it momentum or not, the Oilers are playing as well as we’ve seen this season as they prepare to take on the Jets. Even with that slip late in the third period, the Oilers just beat the defending Cup champions. This wasn’t a win over an also-ran. If McDavid says he can feel it, go with it.

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