The penalty kill shot holes in our dinghy. Final Score: 5-4 Capitals
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When I saw that the Capitals were as shorthanded as they are right now, my first thought was that this is an amazing chance for the Oilers to get back in the win column. My second thought was that this is the exact kind of game the Oilers lose because they play down to their competition for whatever reason. I don’t know what it is about this team and duffing these types of matchups, but we’ve seen countless examples of this happening over the years and it made me nervous about which version of the club we’d get against the Caps. I was nervous. And even though we all know a good start is important every night, this one almost felt a little bit more important because there was absolutely no reason, on paper, that the Oilers shouldn’t beat the injured-battered Capitals, and the longer the Caps could hang around the more time there would be for doubt to creep into Edmonton’s game. So when we reached the midway point of the period and the shots were even and so was the score, I wasn’t exactly brimming with positivity about how things were going. Then, when the Capitals opened the scoring late in the frame, it legitimately felt like the only way this game was supposed to start.
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Heading into the second period, there weren’t many areas that the Oilers didn’t need to improve and I was looking for a much better effort from everyone in a white uniform. But as it turns out, even mustering a better effort would prove to be a tall order as the Capitals found a way to extend their lead only 26 seconds in the period. I hate to say it but I wasn’t surprised. From the moment I saw the injuries Washington was dealing with and that they had their backup starting, the ingredients were all there for a perfect storm of shitacular hockey. I could feel myself getting saltier by the shift. Then, as he’s done so many times before, Connor McDavid brought us out of our seats with a highlight reel goal to pull his team back to within a goal and restored our collective spirits in the process. Good times. Unfortunately, as quickly as McDavid got us up, the Capitals sat us right back down with two more power play goals that were as demoralizing as they were impactful on the scoreboard. I mean, I barely got to enjoy RNH’s shortie before Alex Ovechkin ruined the fun with his 788th career marker from his office in the circle.
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Down by two goals with 20 minutes to play, I really wasn’t expecting much from the Oilers since they hadn’t really given us much to cheer about outside of McDavid’s beauty and the shorthanded tag-team effort by Hyman and Nuge. Frankly, I was just looking to be entertained. What I didn’t expect, however, was for Leon Draisaitl to get on the board in the opening moments of the period to halve Washington’s lead and give the boys a chance. Adding to the intrigue was the Oilers getting stronger by the shift, often pinning the Caps in their own zone and looking like the tying goal was imminent. It was the kind of hustle we had been hoping for all night, and the obvious worry was that the late onslaught would be too little too late. Could they actually overcome four PK goals against? Unfortunately, too little too late was exactly what happened as the Oilers simply ran out of time to get one last goal and push the game to overtime. While you have to appreciate the final push to try and tie things up, the real question is where the hell was this level of urgency through the first 40 minutes? This one hurts.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Connor McDavid got the Oilers on the board (2-1) with a showstopping goal that saw him carve through Washington’s defensive coverage like a knife through butter before finishing the play with a filthy deke on the goaltender. We’ll be seeing this goal on the highlight reels for a while.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pulled the Oilers back to within one (3-2) after an incredible shorthanded effort by Zach Hyman that saw him steal the puck from Ovi along the boards and win a foot race to the goal line before throwing the puck toward the front of the net where the arriving RNH batted it out of the air and into the net. It was a hell of a goal just like that was a hell of a run-on sentence. Nugent-Hopkins picked up a second goal (5-4) on a snipe from the slot with just over a minute left in the third period after Nurse found him with just enough time and space to make a play.
  • Early in the third period, Leon Draisaitl pulled the Oilers back to within one (4-3) for a third time after a nice little spin pass by Hyman in the slot put the puck right on the former MVP’s stick with an empty cage to shoot at.
  • Zach Hyman was a beast in this game and I was happy to see him rewarded with two assists for his efforts because he was all over the ice. I love the guy, he has an engine that just won’t quit.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi had a few nice looks on the first line with McDavid and RNH, but he still doesn’t look completely comfortable in that spot. There’s something I just can’t put my finger on as to why, but overall, I thought Jesse had his best game in a bit.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • That’s what you get when you play for 20 of 60 minutes.
  • Dylan Strome opened the scoring (1-0) on the back of a brutal turnover by Warren Foegele along the boards that saw the winger have his pocket picked only to have the puck turn around and wind up in the back of the net. I know there wasn’t a lot of puck support around McLovin here but there’s no way he’s feeling good about this one. Strome added another goal (2-0) in the opening minute of the second period after Kuznetsov’s shot from the circle banked in off his skate as he was charging toward the crease.
  • Be honest: When you heard that Evgenii Kuznetsov didn’t have a goal yet this season, you knew that he was going to get one tonight, right? Well, he did (3-1) on the power play. It was annoying, but it was always going to happen. Kuznetsov added a second goal (5-3) in the dying moments of the third period after a beautiful between-the-legs feed by Ovechkin set him up for a tap-in.
  • Alex Ovechkin restored Washington’s two-goal lead (4-2) with a power play snipe from his office in the circle. You know where he was on the ice, and you know where he shot the puck. It worked again.
  • Once again the penalty kill was horrible and it cost the Oilers this hockey game. In five tries with the man advantage, Washington scored on four of them. Nowhere near good enough… again.
  • Even though I think it’s a little suspect that the Oilers only got one opportunity with the man advantage — turns out the Capitals are a bunch of angels out there — the boys weren’t able to do with the chance they did get.
  • This wasn’t Stuart Skinner’s night and it wasn’t his fault either. There were giveaways all over the ice, there were mistakes in the coverage, and there were way too many penalties standing in the way of a quality start for Skinner, and I actually felt bad that he got shelled the way he did. As much as it’s never a banner night when your goalie gives up five, I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am with the way the Oilers played given the opportunity they faced to right the ship against an injury-riddled opponent. Nobody should feel good about this game tbh. Skinner finished the game with 26 saves and a .839 save%.
  • Kailer Yamamoto may never score again. The snakebite is real and it is devastating.
  • Same with Warren Foegele. He had another rough night.
  • Not surprising to find out we only won 49% of the draws. Close enough to 50% but there ain’t no participation ribbons here, my friends.
  • Outshot 31-29 by a team with half their roster on the shelf. Blame the penalties all you want but I’m not.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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Talk to me, Twitter. Hit me up at @jsbmbaggedmilk and Wanye at @Oilersnation and you could find yourself landing in this very spot. 

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