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Campbell Digs In

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
1 month ago
Connor McDavid’s hat-trick and a four-point night to bump him to 701 career points in the Edmonton Oilers season-opener with the Vancouver Canucks accounts for most headlines today, but it’s the two points the Oilers got in a 5-3 comeback win and the part Jack Campbell played in it that stands out for me.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the mastery McDavid displayed Wednesday as the Oilers scored five straight goals to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Nor is it the first time we’ve seen the puck end up in the Oilers net early and often in recent seasons – the reason why GM Ken Holland spent $25 million on Campbell as a replacement for Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen.
When Elias Pettersson made it 1-0 on Vancouver’s third shot just 1:49 into the game and J.T. Miller made it 2-0 on the fourth shot at 2:40, I had some serious deja-vu going on. Then, it was 3-0 when Andrei Kuzmenko connected on a power play 39 seconds into the second period. It’s not like Campbell completely whiffed on any of them, but three-zip is three-zip and the tried-and-true “need a save there” came to mind. Then, not so fast.
As dodgy as his debut in Oilers silks was early with three goals on the first 15 shots, Campbell gave Vancouver nothing the rest of the way – notably a breakaway stop on Miller with the Canucks on a power play in the second period to keep it 3-2. Campbell finished with 33 saves and the bottom line is he set the table for McDavid and the Oilers comeback on a night they were only so-so.

WHAT THEY SAID

Oct 7, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save during warmups before the game against the Seattle Kraken at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“I was pretty fired up and they got two quick ones, two goals I’d like to have back,” Campbell said. “It just showed the resiliency in our team. They’re a good team over there and it’s not an easy lead to come back from when you’re down by two that early. I thought we did a great job of just staying focused. We got a lot of huge blocks on the PK to give ourselves a chance to come back, and we were able to finish it off.”
McDavid and Leon Draisaitl had narrowed it to 3-2 with power-play goals when Campbell stiffed Miller in alone with the Oilers a man short. Then came Darnell Nurse, who tied it 3-3 shorthanded with 41 seconds remaining the second period. Big swing.
With Campbell locked in, the Oilers penalty killing held the Canucks to one goal on eight power play attempts and got the shorty from Nurse. McDavid scored the winner, his 700th point, when he snapped his own rebound behind Thatcher Demko. 
“Jack Campbell was excellent, allowed us to get back into the game,” said coach Jay Woodcroft. “The special teams were excellent, allowed us to get back into the game. In the end, even though it wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, I thought our fellas dug in. We’re very aware of some of the things we’re going to have to clean up.
“I thought his (Campbell’s) play allowed us to recover and work our way back into the game. I think the penalty kill was a big story in the game because we had to do it way too much tonight and because of some things that were self-inflicted.
“When your goaltender is your best penalty killer, like he was tonight, it sets you up for some success on that special team. Even though we gave up one on the kill, I think the shorthanded goal by Darnell was a real momentum changer for us.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s only one game and only two points, but seeing Campbell shake off a poor start in his debut and backstop a win is a welcome sign considering the box of chocolates goaltending – fans not knowing what they’re going to get – we’ve seen too often in recent seasons.

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