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The Oilers made the Leafs rematch interesting but it takes more than 20 minutes to win in the NHL

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baggedmilk
25 days ago
There’s something special about the Oilers squaring off against the Maple Leafs as the early game on Hockey Night in Canada, and that’s exactly what we got last night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Unfortunately, it took the Oilers about 40 minutes to realize the game was on, which resulted in the Leafs evening up the season series with a 6-3 win.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER TOUGH START FOR THE OILERS

Outside of the first few minutes when the Oilers were buzzing, the first period of this hockey game was all Maple Leafs. That’s not to say that the boys didn’t get their share of chances, but the Leafs were the only ones that were able to convert. They took their opportunities and cashed them in while the Oilers looked like they were trying to pass it into the net again.
I’ve probably written about slow starts hundreds of times over the years, and we’ve never figured out why the Oilers can’t start on time. Being down 2-0 after 20 minutes against the Leafs was just the latest chapter in the same old story, and it was the second time in as many games that they’ve given up two to start the game.

THE SECOND PERIOD WAS SOMEHOW WORSE

Unfortunately, the Oilers’ fortunes didn’t improve much in the second period. Instead, they may have actually gotten worse. I don’t know if there were necessarily more mistakes made in the middle frame than we got in the first, but the ones Edmonton did make were Gord awful. There were odd-man rushes, shorthanded chances against, and every mix of shitacular sequences one could imagine.
Instead of narrowing the gap and climbing back into the game, the Oilers gave up three more avoidable goals to put themselves in the biggest hole they’ve been in since they lost 8-1 to the Canucks on opening night. To put it kindly, the results could have been better. If I’m being honest, the most fun I had during this game was when I started a Twitter thread about which movie Brad Pitt was most handsome in, and that’s not a great scene, given how excited I was about last night’s matchup.

AT LEAST THEY MADE IT INTERESTING

When you’re down by five goals heading into the third period, there isn’t much left to cheer about apart from hoping the boys could make it interesting. So when Zach Hyman got the Oilers on the board with his 49th goal of the season early in the period, and Corey Perry followed that goal up with another shortly after, it gave us all a reason to keep watching outside of being suckers for punishment.
Of course, it would have been nice if the Oilers had played with the same level of urgency to start the game instead of when it was long out of reach, but I appreciate how they refused to quit even when things looked grim. I mean, it would have been easy to punt the final 20 minutes of the game, given that they needed a touchdown to wrestle the lead away, but the Oilers kept at it even though the likelihood of a successful comeback was next to none.
Knowing how intense the next couple of months are sure to be, having the team keep fighting until the very end will be a quality they’ll need for the playoffs. Hopefully, we won’t see them down by five goals again anytime soon, but it’s nice to see that the boys won’t quit on the game no matter what.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

At least Zach Hyman scored his 49th goal of the season, you know? After that disastrous start, I needed something fun to talk about, and I’m grateful that ZMH came through for us once again.
-With the trio of assists in the third period, Connor McDavid now finds himself with 89 helpers on the season. Our captain is on the doorstep of becoming only the fourth player in NHL history to reach 100 assists in a single season, and that would be a little bit of history that I would very much enjoy watching him accomplish.
-Make it two games in a row where the Oilers have given up a wiiiiiiiiiiiide open chance right in front of the net for the first goal of the game. What we didn’t know at the time, however, was that first mistake was a pretty accurate preview of how the first two periods would go.
-Vinny Desharnais returned to the lineup after breaking his finger in a fight with Josh Manson back on March 16th against the Colorado Avalanche, and looked alright but not great in the 14:03 he ended up playing.
-I was surprised to see Mattias Janmark drop the mitts with Max Domi but it ended up being a pretty good scrap even though I’d generally consider Domi to be the bigger fighter of the two.
-It was a tough game for both Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse defensively. We all saw the highlights of them puck watching on two Toronto goals, and that simply cannot happen with two of our most important pieces back there. They both need to be better.
-Diving into the special teams, the Oilers finished at 2-for-5 on the power play while killing off 2-of-3 shorthanded situations they faced. Overall, Edmonton did fine on the special teams, but it was one of those games where we really needed the PP to come through with more than two. And yes, I know that’s not fair.
The NHL site had the giveaways listed at nine for the Oilers, but that number certainly feels generous to me.
-It wouldn’t be a recap article from me without letting you know that the Oilers won 52.6% of the faceoffs. Small victories, friends.

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