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Oilers’ hot start powers them to 3-2 win in Game 7, punches their ticket to Dallas

Edmonton Oilers meme
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
baggedmilk
26 days ago
It doesn’t get any bigger than Game 7 in the NHL playoffs, and last night, our beloved Edmonton Oilers had the chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Final with one more win over the Vancouver Canucks. And even though the game ended way closer than we would have liked, the Oilers found a way to close out a 3-2 win in a hostile environment. Never in doubt, my friends.

STUART SKINNER WINS BOTH ELIMINATION GAMES

Stuart Skinner wasn’t the busiest goalie you’ll ever see in Saturday’s Game 6 win, but he made the saves he needed to make to lock in the win and force a seventh game. Even though the Canucks only put 15 shots on him, a sizeable chunk of those were listed as high-danger chances and Stu did just fine. Needless to say, the pressure was going to be cranked to the max in Game 7, and it was going to be up to Skinner to stand tall and keep us on the right side of the scoreboard. And while Stu wasn’t nearly as busy as his counterpart at the other end, the 15 saves he made were enough to get the job done. He wasn’t busy, but he was steady. I know the .882 save% left something to be desired, but I’m not going to nitpick too much, given that the guy just won back-to-back elimination games.

SPECIAL TEAMS CAME THROUGH AGAIN

After back-t0-back games without a goal, the Oilers’ power play came through with what ended up being the game winning goal after RNH extended the lead to three goals and ultimately put the Canucks a hole that was too deep to climb out from. Even though the power play cooled down as the series wore on, the boys came through with a goal when it mattered most. If we’re talking about a clutch moment on the power play, Nuge’s goal at the 15:22 mark of the second period was exactly that.
At the other end of the rink, the penalty kill went a perfect 3-on-3 and there was no bigger kill than the four-minute double minor taken by Ryan McLeod near the end of the first period. Not only did the Oilers kill that baby off, but they didn’t even let the Canucks set up in the offensive zone. If I was a coach at any level, I would show the video from that kill as an example of what perfection looks like because I don’t think the boys could have done a better job.

THE FINAL 10 MINUTES

I’m not going to lie… my heart was beating out of my chest in the final 10 minutes of that hockey game. Even with the three goal lead, I felt that the Oilers might need at least one more for me to truly feel comfortable, and that sentiment compounded as soon as the McLeod mistake wound up in the back of the net. As soon as that goal went in, all I could think about was how the Oilers blew a three-goal lead in Game 1, and that it was going to take a whole lot of balls to avoid that same disaster from happening again. That’s why I loves seeing Kris Knoblauch call a timeout in that moment to settle the boys down, clearly applying the lesson from the first game when he didn’t make that call. Either way, the last 10 minutes of last night’s game gave us the most stressful finish that I can remember in forever.

THE OILERS ARE OFF TO DALLAS

If you’re old enough to remember the Oilers vs. Stars series from the late 90s and early 2000s, seeing Dallas as our next target on the way to the Stanley Cup is enough to make your blood boil. There were so many times in my youth when the damned Darian Hatcher-led Stars ended our playoff dreams, and it’s a pain that I’ve never forgotten even decades later. Now, all these years later, we have our change to avenge the heartbreak that so many of us felt all those years ago. To my core, I cannot stand the Dallas Stars, and the only remedy for such feelings would be a big WCF win.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

-Who had Cody “Game 7” Ceci opening the scoring with a clapper from the point on their bingo card for the night? No? Maybe we should have since he also opened the scoring against LA in the seventh game two years ago. Ceci clapped that thing like it was the last shot he’d ever be allowed to make, and he couldn’t have placed it any better if we drew it up in our dreams.
-Zach Hyman put Oilers up by a pair after getting his stick on Evan Bouchard’s seeing-eye shot from the point that made its way through traffic and over Silovs on the blocker side. That snipe was Dad’s fifth goal of the series, and it’s been remarkable to watch him decimate the Canucks in the offensive zone.
-I couldn’t think of a better time for a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins heater than to cap off this series against the Canucks. In his last five games, Nuge produced seven points (3G, 4A) and they came at a point in the series when the team desperately needed some secondary scoring. RNH played 21:09, which was the most of any Oilers forward, and he produced two points in what might have been his best playoff game ever.
Courtesy of Eric Friesen on Twitter, I learned that Leon Draisaitl picked up his 62nd career NHL playoff assist, which puts him past Charlie Huddy for the seventh-most in franchise history. Drai also registered his 22nd career NHL playoff power-play helper, passing Esa Tikkanen for the eighth-most in Oilers history. Leon also has at least a point in all 12 playoff games the Oilers have played.
-Add two more assists on the pile for Evan Bouchard who now has 20 points in 12 playoffs game, which are the most by any defenceman through two rounds in NHL history.
-I love Dylan Holloway. The kid has delivered on a nightly basis since getting the chance to play in the to six alongside Leon Draisaitl, and based on how he’s using the opportunity, I can’t see him ever getting bumped out of the top six again.
-I loved the way the Oilers started this game and that they had the mentality of throwing pucks on net as a means of creating some chaos. In fact, I’d suggest that the boys did a good job of controlling the tempo for most of that period, and their strategy would have worked too had it not been for some fantastic saves by Arturs Silovs. Despite the score being knotted at zero after 20 minutes, I was hopeful that the boys would keep their foot on the pedal.
-I don’t know about all of you, but I had a lot of trouble controlling my nerves yesterday in the hours leading up to puck drop.
The NHL site listed the Oilers had 21 blocked shots in Game 7, but I think that number is light by a sizeable margin. The boys were throwing their bodies in front of basically every shot that came their way, and that sacrifice was a big part of the reason they won.
-The Canucks held the edge in faceoffs through the first six games of the series, and the trend continued again in Game 7 as our boys won only 44.6% of the draws.

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