GDB 65.0 Wrap Up: It wasn’t always pretty but the Oilers found a way in 3-2 win over the Sabres
By baggedmilk8 months ago
That’s a huge win in Buffalo. Final Score: 3-2 Oilers
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When these two teams last met up in mid-October, the Oilers absolutely dominated that game but ended up coming up short because made some early mistakes that wound up in the back of their net and got goalie’d at the other end. It was the kind of loss that was incredibly frustrating because the boys deserved to win but didn’t even get a point, so I was hoping that we’d be able to get the same level of effort without the same mistakes that sunk the ship. But when the Sabres started the game like a house on fire and were ripping pucks on net with ample vigour, I hope it wouldn’t take long for the Oilers to wake up and throw a punch. Thankfully Stuart Skinner was dialed in and covered up a tonne of mistakes, but Buffalo had more than enough chances to put the boys in an early hole so deep they’d likely die down there. Thankfully, the Oilers found their legs as the period wore on and when they did the game turned into a track meet despite each side only putting one goal up on the board.
With the game tied heading into the second period, I was expecting the play to keep flowing back and forth as both teams manufactured quality chances to score. I figured that what we saw towards the end of the first was going to be the standard for the rest of the night, but I was wrong once again. Instead, what we got was a lopsided run of 15 minutes that saw the Sabres do a lot of things right at both ends of the rink. On the defensive side of the puck, Buffalo did a good job of clogging up the middle of the ice and not allowing the Oilers to enter the zone with any kind of speed. At the other end, they continued firing shots from everywhere to try and wrestle the lead away, but as he had been all night, Skinner was up for the challenge. And thanks to the fine work of our moustached hero, the boys were able to weather the Buffalo storm long enough to find the daylight needed to land a counterpunch by Derek Ryan. Despite being outshot 13-6 and not producing a whole lot, the Oilers reclaimed their lead in the dying minutes with an unlikely goal by the fourth line to erase a strong effort by the home side and set themselves up for the win.
Up by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers needed to up the urgency a little bit if they were going to close out the game successfully because they were probably lucky to come out of the second period with a lead. Unfortunately, the Sabres didn’t care much for that plan as they were able to knot up the score with a goal by Dylan Cozens only 41 seconds in. Not ideal. The good news is that it wouldn’t take long for Connor McDavid to respond with his second goal of the night to put the Oilers ahead once again. But as we’d seen all night, hanging onto that lead was the tricky part of the equation that the Oilers needed to figure out, and I was hopeful that the third time would be the charm. And exactly as you’d draw it up, Edmonton was both aggressive and attentive in defending their lead. When they were defending, they committed to being in the right spots. But unlike the times we all hate when the boys just sit back to try and ride out the clock, the Oilers were also aggressive on the attack and could have easily extended their lead with a little bit of luck. Even though they didn’t quite get that fourth goal, it didn’t matter in the end because they got the goaltending they needed to win with only three, and if that’s not cause for celebration then I don’t know what is. Either way, this was a big win for the Oilers and two beautiful points in the bank.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Connor McDavid opened the scoring (1-0) on a wraparound after he found a loose puck behind the net and quickly tucked it around the post before taking a friendly bounce off of Anderson and across the line. McDavid added a second goal (3-2) early in the third period after rushing into the slot with speed and ripping his shot through Anderson down low. At the rate Connor is going, is it so unreasonable to think that he wants to hit 70 goals even though he’d never admit it? Also, how are we only at game 65 and McDavid has already set a new career-high in points with 124?
- Derek Ryan restored Edmonton’s lead (2-1) with a quick wrister from the slot after a dominant shift by the 4th line that saw them set up a cycle down low, tire out every Sabre on the ice, and eventually finish it off with a goal. Outstanding sequence.
- Am I talking out of school if I say that Stuart Skinner was by far the best Edmonton Oilers tonight? I don’t think so. From start to finish, Stu was fantastic between the pipes, and had it not been for him, we would not be talking about a win right now. In every way, Skinner was incredible for the Oilers. The question I have when it comes to Stu is how many of the remaining games we can play him without tiring the guy out because he’s our starter and we need him. Skinner finished the game with 37 saves and a .949 save%.
- I want to give Warren Foegele some love for the way he’s been playing lately. Not only did he pick up a big assist on McDavid’s second goal of the night, but he was buzzing around the ice and making plays basically every time he was out there. For a guy that had a slow start to the year, Foegele has done a great job of turning things around lately.
- I don’t know where Ryan McLeod’s ceiling is offensively, but I thought he did a fine job alongside Connor McDavid after Jay Woodcroft shuffled the lines. Clouder finished with an assist, one shot, and a +1 rating in 16:45 of TOI.
- I love Mattias Ekholm. Even though it’s only his fourth game with the Oilers, the guy is already establishing himself as a calming presence and I absolutely love it. Tonight, he wrapped up the evening with an assist and three shots on goal in 22:03 of TOI.
- You know I’m pumped to see that the Oilers won 65% of the faceoffs. I love that shit. Sexy.
PRESENTED BY BETWAY
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jeff Skinner tied the game with a power play goal (1-1) on a one-timer from the circle that came on the back of some intense pressure from the Sabres that had the PK scrambling to gain control. Obviously, we never did get there.
- Dylan Cozens tied the game for a second time (2-2) on a beautiful spin-and-shoot move that saw the forward pick up the puck in the circle, rotate, and fire all in one fluid motion.
- The amount of puck watching the Oilers were doing in the first period was upsetting, to say the least. Quite frankly, I was ready to kiss Stuart Skinner on the mouth for the work he did to bail his teammates out.
- The Oilers didn’t get nearly enough done in the second period, and I say that fully knowing that they were the only team to score. The boys got outshot 13-6 in the second period and they were going to need to come up with more than that in the third period if they were going to pick up two points.
- Speaking of the second period, I demand that the NHL restore Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ disallowed goal. Sure, you could say that the play was offside and my eyes would probably agree with you, but I believe RNH should be credited with the goal on account of his general handsomeness.
- The Nurse-Ceci pairing needs to pick it up IMO. I’m not saying they were horrible by any means, but I do think they need to take a step forward because we’re going to need them down the stretch.
- Unfortunately, the penalty kill got tagged once again, giving up one goal on two shorthanded situations.
- I’m not sure I agree that the Oilers only earned one power play chance, but they were, unfortunately, unable to get anything done with the opportunity.
- Buffalo outshot the Oilers 39-37 and a big part of that is because of how little the visitors were able to do in the second period.
|7:21||Oilers||Connor McDavid (53)|
Assists: Ryan McLeod (10), Cody Ceci (11)
|9:45||Sabres||Jeff Skinner (27) (Power Play)|
Assists: Tage Thompson (41)
|18:45||Oilers||Derek Ryan (11)|
Assists: Devin Shore (6), Darnell Nurse (27)
|0:41||Sabres||Dylan Cozens (24)|
Assists: Jacob Bryson (8), Casey Mittelstadt (30)
|3:23||Oilers||Connor McDavid (54)|
Assists: Warren Foegele (8), Mattias Ekholm (15)
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