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Everybody gets a goal in Oilers 8-3 comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
21 days ago
When the Oilers and Buffalo Sabres squared off 13 days ago, Edmonton blew an early lead only to lose the game in the shootout. Yeah, it’s fine to pick up the point in a loss, but it’s my humble opinion that it was a game that our boys should have won, and I was hoping they would head into last night’s rematch with a chip on their shoulders and revenge on their minds. Final Score: 8-3 Oilers

OFFENCE FROM THE DEFENCE

When the Oilers stomp a team like they did last night to the Sabres, there are plenty of storylines to talk about, but I want to start with the way Edmonton was able to cash in offence from their defence. It’s not often that the Oilers get three goals from their blue line, and I think the feat needs to be celebrated.
How about the two-goal, three-point night from Mattias Ekholm? His first goal started with Big Viking Daddy rushing the puck through centre ice and into the attacking zone, where he made a nice little toe drag before ripping his shot right into the top corner. His second goal came on a blast from the slot after Leon set him up on a tee. It was the kind of game that reminds us that this guy has more offence in him than he gets credit for because his sixth goal of the year was beautiful and his seventh was utterly unstoppable.
The second goal from the D came from Darnell Nurse after he fired a seeing-eye wrister from the left point that made its way through traffic, over a few bodies and sticks, and past the goaltender for what turned out to be the game winning goal. After going a few months between goals, Nurse now has three goals in his last five games and I think more people should be talking about it.

DIGGING A HOLE WITH ANOTHER SLOW START

As much as it was fun to watch the Oilers climb out of the two-goal hole they put themselves in after only 16:34 minutes of play, it would have been much nicer had not found themselves in that position, to begin with. I know the Oilers have players who can score, and I also know that we’ve seen them come back from similar deficits in the past, but the last thing we can have heading down the stretch is another run of bad starts.
From here on out, every game is incredibly important if the Oilers have any chance of catching the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, and being forced to play catchup every other night probably isn’t the strongest strategy. I’ll never understand why it sometimes takes our beloved heroes half a period or more to get their legs going, but I would do anything humanly possible to rid them of this burden.

THE FIVE GOAL THIRD PERIOD

If there’s one good thing about being down in any hockey game it’s the possibility of a comeback, and last night, the Oilers had to do it twice on their road to victory. After coming back from 2-0 and 3-2, the Oilers took a tie game into the third period and were in pretty good shape to score at least a point or more.
What I didn’t expect, however, was the five-goal outburst in the third period. Not only did they get two goals by defencemen to kick things off, but they also got Hyman’s team leading 48th and two more from McLeod and then Brown for good measure. In a span of 15 minutes, the Oilers went from being in a tie game to putting the Sabres in the rearview mirror, and there’s not way I would have ever expected that to happen based on how things were going early.
I don’t know why the Oilers can look so unstable sometimes while looking unstoppable at others, but we got a little taste of both worlds in the rematch against Buffalo. From erasing the bad start to burying their opponents in the end, last night’s game offered the full Oilers experience at both ends of the spectrum, and I can only imagine how stressful this ride is going to get by the end of the year.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

-How about the time and space that J.J. Peterka had in front of the net on the chance he converted for the first goal of the game? My guy had enough time to make a sandwich and watch an episode of The Sopranos before eventually tucking the puck in past Stuart Skinner on the blocker side.
-Leon Draisaitl picked up his 18th power play goal of the season after RNH hit him with a nifty little pass from down low that set up Drai’s one-timer from the boards. What was interesting about the goal, though, was how Leon scored it from the opposite side of the ice from where he’s usually parked on the power play. Coincidence or deliberate change? You decide.
-What can you say about another four-point night for Connor McDavid? He may not have scored, but he got himself a few steps closer to becoming only the fourth player in NHL history to register 100 helpers in a single season. I know people are talking about his goal totals, but I think we need to start talking more about how many assists his putting up.
-I don’t think I could love Zach Hyman any more than I do right now. He obviously picked up his 47th and 48th goals of the year last night against the Sabres, and it still blows my mind every time they give an update on where he’s at. Again, his career-high in POINTS was only 41 before he came to Edmonton as a free agent, and now he’s knocking on the door of a 50-goal season.
-After a night off against the Canadiens, Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes against the Sabres for his 50th appearance of the year, matching the career high he set a year ago. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous about how Skinner’s night would go after he allowed a pair of goals on 13 shots against, but as he’s done a lot lately, Stu did a pretty good job of shutting the door from there. Even though his 26 saves and .897 save% will draw criticism
-Big congrats to Ryan McLeod on setting a new career high in goals with his 12th of the season! I still think there’s a 20-goal season in this kid.
-Connor Brown picked up his first goal of the season last Wednesday against the Capitals and he had so much fun scoring that he wanted to do it again just over a week later. Brown cashed in a juicy rebound in garbage time after the goalie kicked the puck out to his stick where he was awaited by a wide open net.
-Diving into the special teams, the Oilers went 1-for-2 with the man advantage while killing off  3-of-3 shorthanded situations they faced. Overall, it doesn’t get much better than what we got, as both units handled their business when called upon.
-According to the laws of my heart, I’m forced to tell you how the Oilers did in the faceoff circle, and that’s why I’m elated to share that the boys finished the night winning 57.9% of the draws they took.

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