The Day After 62.0: Reunited second lines shines for Oilers amid chaos at the KeyBank Center

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
From two-goal leads to overturned overtime goals, Saturday’s game between the Oilers and Sabres had it all.
The juxtaposition from the start to finish was wild, considering seconds in to the game Ryan McLeod had a great scoring chance he put wide of the net. He more than made up for it 20 seconds later, scoring the game’s opening goal before many were even in their seats.
And while Ryan McLeod helped build on it 14 minutes into the first frame, setting up Warren Foegele to extend the Oilers’ lead, it would end up being all the offence the Oilers could muster, allowing the lowly Buffalo Sabres to come back and win the game.
“We couldn’t find that third one to get the insurance,” said Leon Draisaitl after the game. “That’s really the game. I thought we clearly outplayed them for the majority of the game. Their goalie was good, made some big stops, we just couldn’t find that third one.”


It’s a story we’ve heard seemingly far too often where the Oilers just can’t quite figure out how to put a team away. A multitude of factors, including the opposing netminders’ play and the inability to bear down on chances, all play a role in it, as does the Oiler’s power play.
What was a historic power play last season hasn’t quite looked the same this year, at least on the road. They operate at a league-best clip on home ice, but that falls to 20th on the road.
“We can be a lot better,” added Draisaitl.
While two points were squandered, the Oilers still managed to pick up the pity point — even thought they got a second chance to snag the second.
With the overtime frame dying between the two clubs, the Sabres scored with two seconds left in what everybody thought was the end of the game. And while players were in the locker rooms about to hit the showers, the referees were reviewing the goal, eventually calling it back due to an offside 20 seconds prior.
So, back went on the gear to play out the final 20 seconds of overtime, where Dylan Cozens would be stopped on a great chance. Edmonton fell in the shootout.
Squandering that extra point is never ideal, but there were more than a few good things they could pull from the game. Namely the reunification of the Oilers’ second line of Draisaitl, McLeod and Foegele, by far the club’s most potent line today.
“It would’ve been better to get the win, but for myself, I wasn’t happy with last game and tried to put my foot forward,” he said. “Personally, it’s a little bit less stressful today than it was the past few weeks.
“Any chance you get to play with the second or third-best player in the world, it’s a huge opportunity, and I’m grateful. I just feel like he doesn’t get enough respect from you guys, honestly, and around the league for how good he is. I know we have one superstar, but we’ve got a really good one too.
“He’s a helluva player, and a massive leader for this club, and he probably deserves to get more talk about him.”
Beyond the opening goal, this second line pushed the pace of play all game and got some of the best looks.
Now up to over 100 minutes of 5v5 ice time this season, this second line has outscored the opposition 11-3 while controlling 54.88 percent of the shot attempt share, 57.89 percent of the scoring chance share, and 58.48 percent of the expected goal share. Their numbers, which might be a bit inflated in terms of outscoring in thanks to a small sample size, are still showing they have what it takes to remain this team’s second line.
The Oilers as a whole will be able to forget this Sabres game quickly, in thanks to them playing another morning game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 11 am MST.

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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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