Ryan Murray we speak your name! Final Score: 3-2 Oilers
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After last night’s debacle in Washington, I wasn’t exactly feeling so positive about heading into Tampa for the second half of a back-to-back set. Beating the Lightning is a tall order at the best of times, and it’s not like the Oilers are struggling with some bad luck during this losing streak but rather they’re looking like a team that is having a hard time executing on the basics. Needless to say, that’s a bad spot to be in when facing a team that’s won two of the last three Stanley Cups. So when the game started out with the Lightning basically doing as they pleased in the offensive zone and Jack Campbell having to stand on his head just to keep the game scoreless, it’s hard to fault any Oilers fan that wasn’t filled with warm and fuzzies. Even when Warren Foegele opened the scoring with a shorthanded dart that caught Vasilevskiy off guard, the boys weren’t playing anywhere near the level they needed to be. Unphased, the Lightning responded with a goal of their own only two minutes later and could have had more had the Oilers’ goaltender not kept them in the fight.
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Heading into the second period, the Oilers had to get their legs moving and I say that even after finding out that they didn’t get into their hotel rooms until three in the morning. The boys needed to find a way to stop the Lightning from running their show in the defensive zone and gain some traction with moving the puck the other way. As much as I believed the boys could get their engines firing, I did not necessarily expect them to kick off the frame with a pair of power play goals in the span of only two minutes. Unlike what we got in the first, the Oilers had some giddy-up in their stride, and the obvious upgrade provided them with the ability to counterpunch effectively instead of standing there and taking jabs to the nose. Over and above the goals scored, the thing that amazed me most about the Oilers was that they were able to refocus on the task at hand after losing Evander Kane in a very scary incident that saw him suffer a deep laceration near the wrist that left blood all over the ice and silence in the building. Thankfully he is going to be okay, but it took some time before we found out.
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Up by two goals with a period to play, the Oilers needed to find a way to flex their killer instinct and avoid the collapse that happened against New Jersey when they were in this position just last week. In that game, the Oilers sat back and tried to defend their lead, which basically gave the Devils all the time and space they needed to complete the comeback. I was hopeful that the boys learned their lesson. Admittedly, I wasn’t so sure that was the case after the Lightning were able to pull themselves to within one only 49 seconds into the period. Not a great start to say the least, but that’s also why I was happy to see the Oilers get back on the horse and keep pushing for goals without worrying too much that they’d surrender anything else. That said, there were close moments it wasn’t going to take much for the Lightning to kick the door open, making the next goal a hugely important one for Edmonton. Despite their best efforts, the Oilers weren’t able to get that next one, but the good news is that the Lightning weren’t able to get it either. Instead, what we got was a heart-pumping finale that saw all kinds of chaos around the crease right up until the final buzzer. Oilers win by the skin of their teeth and it was absolutely beautiful. Two huge points.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Warren Foegele finally got the monkey off his back (1-0) with a shorthanded marker (yes, for real) after taking a Ryan McLeod pass up near the blue line and ripping a bullet past Vasilevskiy low on the blocker side. For a guy that hadn’t scored yet this season, this was an absolute snipe by Foegele and you love to see how fired up he was when the shot went in.
  • Connor McDavid restored the Oilers’ lead (2-1) on the power play goal with a chip shot near the side of the net after the puck leaked out to him from a scramble in front of the crease. It wasn’t the prettiest PP goal the Oilers will ever score, but it was absolutely sexy to me.
  • Leon Draisaitl put the Oilers up by a pair (3-1) with a second power play goal for the boys after McDavid found him all alone in front of the net with enough time to rip a backhander up and over a sliding Vasilevskiy.
  • After throwing himself under the bus after Saturday’s loss to the Stars, I was curious to see how Jack Campbell would look in his next start. Not only do we need him to get going, but on a personal level, I think we all want to cheer for a guy that is willing to hold himself so accountable. That attitude makes it even easier to cheer for Soup after a massive effort in net against a very good Lightning team and dare I say that this might have been his best start of the year. Campbell finished the game with 35 saves and a .946 save%.
  • I really liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins tonight, and truly feel that this may have been his best game of the year. Despite the lack of results, the big fella did a nice job of putting himself in a spot to shoot and it’s only a matter of time before he drains one.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins three-game point streak! RNH has two goals and two assists over that time as he continues with one of the best starts to the season of his career.
  • You have to love seeing the Oilers cash in two goals on their four chances with the man advantage. When the power play is rolling at its best, taking penalties against this team is a kryptonite for any Superman.
  • Not to be outdone, the PK went a perfect 5-for-5 on the evening, which couldn’t be more of a polar opposite to what we saw last night. I don’t know what Woodcroft said to the PK crew between games but it worked and I’m forever grateful.
  • I know this has nothing to do with this hockey game but I really like the idea of Ryan Reynolds buying the Ottawa Senators. I have no idea how he makes that math work or who he has to loop into this partnership, but I like the way this story is shaping up.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Thinking about Evander Kane tonight after he suffered a scary cut near his wrist and gushed blood onto the playing surface after Pat Maroon accidentally stepped (???) on him as he was laying on the ice. Gene Principe gave the update that Kane was in stable condition but had to get surgery, which punctuates the severity of the injury.
  • After a sloppy giveaway at centre ice gave the Lightning possession, Brandon Hagel tied the game (1-1) with a one-timer from the circle after Kucherov found him with a sneaky little pass that he was able to tee off on. Perfect execution on the neutral zone turnover by the Lightning.
  • Alex Killorn halved the lead (3-2) with a deflection from the circle that saw him get his stick on Perbix’s point shot and redirect it behind a helpless Jack Campbell.
  • You can show me all the replays you want of Zach Hyman’s “distinct kicking motion” but I don’t buy that he could do that on purpose while also battling a defenceman for position in front of the net. No way.
  • Can someone explain to me why it wasn’t icing when Tyson Barrie was sent crashing into the end boards at the tail end of the first period? Tyler Fedun broke his leg in half on a play like that, and I thought this was the exact kind of sequence that the NHL is trying to avoid.
  • Kailer Yamamoto is next up to have the snakebite end. I will head to the streets to find a sacrifice. We will find a way.
  • Oilers outshot by a 37-29 margin and it’s a trend this is a trend that’s deeply bothersome to me.
  • Only 48% in the faceoff circle again, and while it’s not a horrible result it’s not where we want to be either.

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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