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The Tape: Connor Brown gets his first goal for the Edmonton Oilers

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
27 days ago
Major headlines around the Edmonton Oilers have varied throughout the regular season; however, the one that has stuck around was unexpected and frustrating.
Ken Holland signed Connor Brown over the summer to a league-minimum deal with a performance bonus of $3.25 million if he played 10 or more games. Many didn’t care about the bonus at first, but his goalless streak lingered on and on. Then, on Wednesday night, after 54 games, Brown found the back of the night against his former team, the Washington Capitals.
The atmosphere at Rogers Place was unexplainable, but you could almost feel the relief lift from his shoulders. The fans showed their appreciation for breaking the curse with a standing ovation and even a handful of hats hitting the ice. Anyone who didn’t know he hadn’t scored yet would’ve thought we were all celebrating his 50th of the year.
“It meant a lot,” Brown said of the crowd’s response. You play in a big market like this, and they’re aware of the storylines. It means a lot. Obviously, it’s been a struggle this year offensively. I haven’t been able to get one to go, so for their kind of support to shine through there, they’re rooting for me, so it’s a good feeling.”

First Period

Brown had a somewhat eventful first few shifts versus Washington. He didn’t create anything with the puck; however, he was on the ice for the two minute penalty called against Dylan Strome for high sticking Adam Henrique.
Shortly after, he was on the penalty kill with Ryan McLeod in the box for holding. Washington scored on the penalty, but Brown showed why he’s one of the top PKers on the Oilers. He showcased his positional skills and put pressure on the puck carrier in the right moments.
His first chance of the game came on his fourth shift. Brown went to the net but couldn’t connect on a pass from Evander Kane—at least, not yet.
Another chance came the next shift. Henrique broke up a play around the boards, leading to a one-on-one with the defenceman for Brown, but his skating didn’t get him enough space and instead fired a shot into the opponent’s stick.

Second Period

Brown kicked off the second with a short penalty kill shift, but nothing noteworthy happened. He also had limited puck possession on his second shift, going up against the Capitals’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, TJ Oshie, and Connor McMichael.
Brown’s streak of uneventful shifts continued into his third of the period, too. He spent a little more time in the offensive zone, though, this time putting the Capitals under pressure on the forecheck. Brown’s line stayed on for the icing, but nothing prevailed, with Vincent Desharnais eventually icing the puck.
Brown managed to get the puck up the ice, showing patience at the blue line, allowing a play to develop. That patience turned into a good opportunity for Darnell Nurse, if not for a good stick from the Capitals defenceman.
It was low-event hockey for the rest of the period for Brown.

Third Period

The third period started with the remainder of a Troy Stetcher penalty to kill. Brown did what he usually does: filled passing lanes, limited space and even managed to create a chance down the ice. Unfortunately, he couldn’t connect a pass to Mattias Janmark on a quality chance, but Brown’s efforts would soon be rewarded.
Shortly after, Brown made his best play of the game to this moment in the contest. A quick steal from the Capitals forward in the neutral zone led to a chance for Kane, who ripped a shot just over.
Then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Brown scored his first goal for the Edmonton Oilers. A block from Henrique made the puck bounce out to Kane, who attacked with speed on a two-on-one with Brown. Kane stretched the play out wide while Brown drove toward the net, where Kane found him with a hot cross-ice pass. It may have gone on off his leg but it still counted as a goal.
A couple of shifts later, he made a good play, bringing the puck back high, allowing Brett Kulak to sneak underneath. Brown found the Oilers defenceman with a confident pass, but he wasn’t able to pull the trigger.
Washington kept the puck in the offensive zone for the last couple of minutes of Brown’s shift. The biggest chance came from former Oiler Ethan Bear, who rang a shot off the post.

Final Thoughts

It was great to see Connor Brown score his first as an Oiler. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come down the stretch and into the playoffs. However, if he does get a couple more, we should expect them to be as ugly as his first. He crashed the net a few times throughout the game effectively, but his skating doesn’t allow him to generate much space away for himself.
Overall, Brown’s game against Washington was good. He limited chances on the penalty kill and played relatively low-end hockey at five-on-five. That line with himself, Adam Henrique, and Evander Kane seemed to figure each other out gradually, and if they do, then the Oilers have three scoring lines heading into the playoffs.

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