The Day After +8.0: Multi point performances propel Edmonton Oilers to 5-1 win over Vegas Golden Knights
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing30 days ago
Nobody was happy with the way the Edmonton Oilers performed in game one of their second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
And that became evermore clear with the way the team opened game two scoring four first-period goals en route to a 5-1 win. It wasn’t just the goals in that period — and there were a lot of them — that caught the attention of head coach Jay Woodcroft, but it was the pace they played with as a whole.
“I thought we had our skating legs, our sea legs under us right from the first shift,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “I thought we were able to come at their team in waves. There’s a reason they were taking the penalties they did, it’s because we were playing at a certain pace.
“All that said, that’s one game. They have one on the board, we have one on the board. We get to go home to the best fans in the National Hockey League.”
Make no mistake, though. This one was a big one for the Oilers.
Leon Draisaitl continued his scoring ways with two in the first frame tying a record set in 1918 by Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, as other first-period goals from Evan Bouchard and Connor McDavid would add to the lead.
The Oilers captain would add another in the second and this game was nothing short of a rout. And while the goals were great, it was the Oilers’ play as a whole that gave them the opportunities in the offensive zone.
Not only did Draisaitl and McDavid score two goals each, but other key players put up points, too. Zach Hyman had three assists, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a pair of his own, Evan Bouchard had two assists, and Kailer Yamamoto chipped in an apple of his own.
While any fan could look at the score sheet and see that the shots were close — Edmonton taking a narrow 36-31 edge — the truth is that this game was far from it. Even when Vegas had their pushes, it never felt as though this was a game they could get back into.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
Looking at the raw shot attempt share numbers at 5×5 from Natural Stat Trick, the Oilers controlled just 45 percent of them. But once adjusted for the score and venue, the numbers flip to the Oilers’ favour with 54.23 percent of the share. Much is the same for the expected goal share (49.41 percent unadjusted, 56.93 percent adjusted) and the scoring chances (54.29 percent unadjusted, 61.75 percent adjusted), too, it really paints a picture of how this game was.
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy knew that after the game.
“They have the puck and they held onto it. They were strong on it. Cutbacks, you name is. The o-zone support below the goal line, all those things,” he said. “We weren’t hard on the puck. Guys we rely on offensively, they need to understand that.
“Go through any line, we didn’t have the puck enough. If we’re going to beat a good team that’s attack-oriented, the highest-scoring team in the league, you have to have the puck. They got the races and battles, especially in the first period, they won ’em all.”
And with the Oilers pummeling the Golden Knights on the ice, Vegas tried to get into it any way they could. With just over two minutes to go in the second period, things escalated.
At centre ice, Brett Kulak and Brett Howden dropped the gloves and as Nick Bjugstad entered the offensive zone with the puck on his stick, he fired a shot. Well, Vegas Alex Pietrangelo wasn’t a fan.
Nor was Keegan Kolesar, who was late into the fracas grabbing Evander Kane from behind. The two fell to the ice with the latter giving the former a few body shots.
“You don’t see a lot of guys getting jumped from behind than head locked,” Kane said. “When you wanna fuck around, sometimes you have to find out.”
As for Woodcroft’s response to Vegas’ antics?
“We’re no shrinking violet team. We have some big humans out there, people that can more than capably take care of themselves,” he said. “We have some people that relish that opportunity, they’re not bluffers.
“What I liked was how we stuck together and made sure nobody took liberties. We protected ourselves and we did it whistle-to-whistle. There was nobody on our team swinging sticks around. We have honest toughness.”
Game three of the seven-game set now heads back to Edmonton for a 6:30 p.m. MT puck drop on Monday.
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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