GDB 5.0 Wrap Up: It wasn’t the prettiest 5-3 Oilers win we’ll ever see, but it was beautiful to me
By baggedmilk2 years ago
The road to perfection isn’t always pretty. Final Score: 5-3 Oilers
I’m not going to pretend that this game against the Golden Knights was any more important than the other games to start the 2021-22 season, but it did feel like there was a different level of anticipation in the hours leading up to puck drop. For a lot of us Oilers fans, we see the Golden Knights as the main roadblock to winning the Pacific Division and while round one of the season series was by no means a must-win, it almost felt like closing this one out with a win would just be good for our general confidence as a team and as a fanbase. Not to mention, Vegas was coming in about as banged up as anyone and that meant an opportunity to take advantage of a team that’s not quite themselves. Even so, the Golden Knights were all over the Oilers early on, and that allowed them to not only grab themselves an early lead but totally eliminate Edmonton’s ability to put two passes together. And yet, even though they looked like they were swimming in sand for the first 10 minutes so, the Oilers were able to drag themselves back in the fight with another strike from their white-hot power play. I mean, I think we’d all take a tie game after 20 minutes with the way things got started and the extended 5-on-3 shorthanded situation, no?
Moving into the second period, the Oilers needed to find a way to get their legs moving and some bounce in their step because that first period was flat like two-day-old Fresca. I don’t care if they had to down a few coffees or fire up the mobile oxygen tanks and b12 shots, if our boys were going to keep the streak alive then they needed to do a better job of creating opportunities for themselves. It was a simple plan but it was a good one, I thought. The bad news is that the boys gave up another early goal to start the frame and put themselves behind once again. The good news is that they were able to respond with a pair of quick goals in just over a minute to not only even the score but grab themselves their first lead of the night. And as the period wore on, the Oilers were able to settle in and did a better job of balancing out the ice at even strength rather than trying to weather an endless storm and throwing a counterpunch from time to time. Leading by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers needed to avoid a three-peat of allowing goals in the opening minutes of the period because they had a very real chance of tucking their 9th and 10th points away in the standings and that’s something I was very much hoping for because I know how much it will make life easier towards the end of the season.
Throwing more adversity in the stew, the Oilers were unable to keep Vegas off the board as they were able to cash in an early goal for the third straight period, knotting the score up for the third time. But just as they’d done before, the Oilers showed a healthy dose of resilience and found a way to respond with a quick goal to restore their lead and set them back on the path to victory. And while it may not have been the prettiest finish we’ll ever see — the boys were running out of gas by the end of this thing — the most important thing is that the boys were able to close out a win even though they may have been a little bit lucky to get it.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Zach Hyman continued his hot run with a power play goal (1-1) that tied the game only moments after the Golden Knights grabbed the lead. As he’s done all season so far, Hyman parked himself right in the crease and was 1000% ready when the puck came to him as he was able to nudge it just over the goal line. Hyman tied the game up for a second time (2-2) early in the period after McDavid found him in the high slot where he was able to tee off on the one-timer(??).
- Only moments after Hyman tied the game, Nugent-Hopkins recovered the puck right in the slot and found Leon Draisaitl in his office near the circle where he was able to tattoo the puck up and over Lehner for the Oilers’ first lead (3-2) of the night.
- Shortly after Vegas tied the game at three, Zack Kassian restored the lead (4-3) with a nice deke through the five-hole after Duncan Keith sent him in alone with a beautiful stretch pass. Up until that point, the Oilers looked flat and lifeless, and Kassian’s goal was able to give them a little bit of life when they needed it the most. With that goal, Kassian now has more goals than he had all of last season and is already tied in total points. That’s a nice bounce-back start to the year for Kass.
- Leon Draisaitl sealed the deal with an empty-net goal to secure the win and give himself a three-point night.
- Speaking of points, Connor McDavid became the 12th player in NHL history to register five straight multi-point games to start the season.
- Even though the spreadsheets are generally against using your goaltender in back-to-back situations, Mikko Koskinen was tasked with keeping the winning streak alive despite playing last night in Anaheim. Outside of maybe the third goal that came on a slapshot from the point, I thought that Koskinen stopped basically everything we could have hoped he would and gave his team a chance to win. Koskinen finished the night with 36 saves and a .923 save%.
- As we’ve seen on a nightly basis so far, the Oilers power play is absolutely lethal, and was able to tag Vegas with one goal on three chances with the man advantage.
- I have to give another shout out to the Oilers’ PK because it almost seems to get forgotten since the only thing most people want to talk about is the power play. Thankfully, our PK soldiers were there for us again and killed off all three of their shorthanded situations.
- Make it a four-game point streak for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when he picked up his 300th career assist on Leon Draisaitl’s second period marker.
- I didn’t expect Evan Bouchard to be elevated to the first pairing this early in the season but I thought that he handled the task admirably given the pressure that comes with the job. As always, I thought Dad looked so calm with the puck that I’m concerned he’s actually dead and I can’t imagine how good he’ll be at moving the pill around by the time he’s been in the league a few years.
- I know that he’s struggled so far this season but I thought that this was Kailer Yamamoto’s best game of the season and it’s not really close. All night long, Yamo was hustling, dishing, and even put the boys on a power play. I know that we need him to produce more than he has, but if he has more nights like this one then I can’t help but feel like the offence is going to come.
- Big shout out to Duncan Keith for picking up his first point as an Oiler with his beautiful stretch pass on Zack Kassian’s breakaway goal.
- You’ve finally reached the portion of the Wrap Up where I tell you that the Oilers won 52% of the faceoffs?
THE FACE PALMERS
- Nicolas Roy opened the scoring for Vegas (1-0) with a perfectly placed deflection from the slot after he got his stick on Whitecloud’s shot from the point. The Oilers were scrambling around in their own zone early and it almost wasn’t surprising that Vegas was able to take advantage of the general sloppiness.
- Nolan Patrick restored Vegas’ lead (2-1) with a very similar goal to the first one where the puck was deflected in the slot, through traffic, and past the goaltender. Honestly, I don’t even know how this one got through so I can only imagine what Koskinen saw from his vantage point.
- For the third straight period, the Oilers allowed a goal in the opening minutes of the period when Nicolas Hague teed off on a clapper from the high slot that beat Koskinen cleanly down low. For me, this is a shot that Koskinen should have stopped but I also understand that the shot was an absolute rocket.
- I can’t be the only one that kept watching the clock as the Oilers were basically hanging on for dear life towards the end of the game. You could just tell that the boys were out of gas and I had all of my digits crossed in the hopes that they were going to be able to hang on.
- Tyson Barrie only played 14:40 tonight and that is not nearly good enough for what we need from him. I mean, it can’t feel good to see Bouchard stealing his cheese sandwich already.
- If you love shots on goal you’ll be upset to hear that the Oilers were outshot by the Golden Knights by a 39-33 margin.
- I know they’re not new or anything, but those shiny gold helmets that Vegas was wearing are absolutely ridiculous.
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