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The Day After 19.0: Edmonton Oilers take advantage of Black Friday sale on goals
By Zach Laing2 months ago
It was a Black Friday fire sale in Washington on Friday afternoon, and the Edmonton Oilers took advantage of it.
For a team that has banked more goals for the future than Fort Knox has gold reserves, boy, did they cash in on them. But before the Oilers could do so en route to a 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals, they had to put in a solid first 20 minutes.
There, Leon Draisail used his size like he hasn’t this season to bowl himself low in the offensive zone, feeding Evander Kane in front of the net, who jammed the puck home for his ninth of the season and a 1-0 lead. Then, it was resident grey beard, sans the beard, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, whose astute hockey sense allowed him to time a falling puck to the exact moment he could bat it into the net.
“I think the most important thing was our start,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch, who improves to 3-3 behind the bench, of a first period where the Oilers outshot Washington 21-6. “I thought we had a good third period in Carolina, and I think we just carried that over.
“All four lines, all the defencemen. Nothing fancy, just keeping it a simple game, and playing hard.”
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
And right at the end of that first frame, Alex Ovechkin got his stick up on Vincent Desharnais after the whistle blew, giving the Oilers a power play to start the second. They didn’t score right away, but an Evan Bouchard blast from the point, his fifth of the season, found its way to the net.
Then, two more from Leon Draisaitl — one from low in tight on a tic-tac-toe play with a great feed from Connor McDavid and another shooting from afar — and the Oilers had a 5-0 lead. After that first goal of his, Draisaitl had pointed to the Oilers bench, seemingly signalling about something between players or coaches.
Well, it turns out that was precisely the case.
“Connor (McDavid) and I have scored a few goals like that before, and Brownie (Connor Brown) a couple days ago, he dare to say, invented the play in juniors I guess,” Draisaitl said with a laugh. “We’ve been dying to score one of those here, and it was great timing. Kudos to Brownie for inventing it.”
The weight on the Oilers, at least for today, has been lifted. The spirits, at least for today, have been lifted. The mood, at least for today, is much improved.
Knoblauch attributed that to the Oilers’ power play success.
“I think previously, you could see a lot of frustration on the power play. Getting three power play goals, and the passes and plays they were making, it looks like they’re kind of out of that funk,” he said. “I think most importantly, with our team play, was how we checked, and the chances that we gave up tonight.
“There’s going to be breakdowns, there’s going to be chances we give up, but we need our goaltending to make some big saves. Certainly, that happened tonight. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot more of what we want, what we need.”
With Stuart Skinner standing tall in the crease when asked to, the Oilers looked like a team that should be 12-6-1, not 6-12-1.
Now, to see if they can roll that into a Sunday night game against the Anaheim Ducks and their first chance to get back at the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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