Any Way You Want It
Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
We know the Edmonton Oilers are talented enough to outscore opponents when a game turns into a track meet because they have cheat codes in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Plus, the best two players on the planet have a terrific supporting cast in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, and Zach Hyman. Want to turn the game into a skills display or power-play competition? Sure. Let’s go.
Want to get bang bodies and play heavy hockey, the style the post-season demands? Well, it’s looking like the team GM Ken Holland has put together with the addition of Klim Kostin, Mattias Ekholm, Vincent Desharnais and Nick Bjugstad as complements to Darnell Nurse and Evander Kane is ready to rumble. I don’t see this team being pushed out of games.
As important as all the above is, the dimension the Oilers need if they want to take a step beyond reaching the Western Conference final again is the ability to prevail in games like those they’ve played the last two times they’ve faced the Los Angeles Kings — a 3-1 win in Tinseltown last night after a 2-0 victory at Rogers Place Thursday.
The Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks tonight on a five-game winning streak. Two of those wins have been tests of patience, will and opportunism against the Kings — the team they bested in seven games in the 2022 post-season and will likely meet again this time around.
Tuesday, the Oilers overcame a slog of a first period in which they managed just two shots to prevail on power-play goals by Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl before Nurse sealed the deal with an empty net goal to make it 3-1.
FINDING A WAY
Apr 4, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Zach Hyman (18) celebrates after center Leon Draisaitl (29) scored a goal past Los Angeles Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley (29) in the third period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The game we watched last night was the kind of game the Kings have made a habit of winning over the last decade or so during a stretch that has seen them hoist the Stanley Cup twice. Completely stifled in the first period, the Oilers grabbed the lead when Nugent-Hopkins made it 1-0 on the power play.
“It’s the way it’s going to be against LA,” said McDavid, who picked up an assist on Draisaitl’s 2-1 goal to up his league-leading points total to 147. “That’s the way you beat a team like that. Done it twice now. I think it was good for our group to show to ourselves, and to them, that we can beat them that way.”
Instead of this game swinging the Kings’ way after Viktor Arvidsson tied it midway through the third period, the Oilers dug in and grabbed it. Draisaitl got the winner on a rebound in tight and Stuart Skinner took care of the rest.
“I thought it was a good game for our team,” coach Jay Woodcroft said. “It was a patient game for our team, not a lot of room on the ice tonight. Very well-played game by both teams. I thought both teams played hard. Both teams had the chance to win, and we found a way, which is a good sign for our group.
“In the end, we found a way. I thought our game breakers were able to solve some problems that their penalty kill presented, and they made the big plays at the right time, and that’s what they do. That’s why they’re the best in the world.”
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