Connor McDavid Final Score: 4-3 Oilers in OT
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I know that calling this a must-win game doesn’t actually make sense when you consider where we’re at in the schedule but I will say that it might be if you’re thinking about the overall psyche around here. At 5-5 in their last 10 games leading up to tonight’s first of four meetings with the Golden Knights, the Oilers needed to find some kind of rhythm because it’s pretty tough to gain ground on the teams you’re chasing when losing just as much as you’re winning. It’s not the worst spot we’ve seen them in at this stage of the season — Gord knows we remember last year’s death spiral that kicked off sometime around now — but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be pressure to string together a few wins. And with the way the Oilers got started with an early goal by Warren Foegele, you couldn’t help but feel excited about the way the boys were buzzing. The best start they’ve had in quite some time, the Oilers put in the kind of effort we needed from them and the boys were rewarded with an early lead as a result. Hungry for more, Edmonton did everything they could to extend the lead but just couldn’t get another past Hill, and it was extremely unlucky that Vegas tied the game in the final minutes on a lucky bounce because I thought our boys played very well.
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Heading into the second period, the Oilers just needed to keep doing what they were doing and the goals would come. Outside of cashing in a second goal, the boys did a lot of things right through the first 20 minutes and I was hoping they would find a way to keep playing with the same urgency. And while that mostly happened from the opening draw, what I did not expect is that the Golden Knights would be awarded a Charmin soft penalty shot that Mark Stone would use to wrestle the lead away. Down on the scoreboard after two straight goals against, the Oilers needed to shake it off like T. Swift and get this train back on the rails. The good news is that it wasn’t long before Leon Draisaitl accomplished exactly that as his line produced a second goal on the night after another very strong shift in the offensive zone that left Vegas scrambling and unable to clear. With the score knotted at two apiece, both sides manufactured their share of chances at both even strength and on the power play but the goaltenders were doing everything they could to keep it that way. Action flowing back and forth like a pendulum, the Oilers and Golden Knights put on a show that was as stressful as it was fun, setting the table for a fantastic finish.
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Tied at two with either side looking like they could pull ahead on any given shift, the third period was going to be a beauty if the Oilers could keep the all-gas-no-brakes mentality going. Despite the score being tied, this was the best game they’ve played at Rogers Place since their win over the Nashville Predators and I wanted nothing more than to see the boys find a way to close Vegas out. So when they kicked the period off with a goal by Zach Hyman only 38 seconds in to restore the lead and grab some momentum for good measure, the opportunity to pick up two huge points was there for the taking if they could keep their legs moving. Once again, Vegas wouldn’t make it easy. With a little help from the officials on a suspect icing call, the Golden Knights were able to tie the game for a second time and put us into a ‘next goal wins’ scenario. And as the clock wound down and each passing second left us holding our breaths, it seemed only fitting that it would take a bonus period to find a result. Thankfully, it was Connor McDavid and the Oilers that found a way to cash in the OT winner and give the team two massive points that they desperately needed.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Warren Foegele opened the scoring early (1-0) after Nugent-Hopkins hit him with a pass at the goalmouth before pulling off a nifty little dangle to the backhand before shoveling the puck into an open net. Beautiful passing play led to a very nice finish by Foegele.
  • Leon Draisaitl tied the game (2-2) with a snipe from his office in the circle on the back of a beautiful passing play in the offensive zone that saw the entire five-man unit contributing in one way or another before the former MVP eventually pumped the puck home. Just a fantastic sequence by Edmonton.
  • Zach Hyman restored Edmonton’s lead (3-2) with a one-timed shot from the left side after Connor McDavid set him up with a perfect pass that he could tee off on. For the third time, the Oilers grabbed a goal after a pretty passing play and you love to see it.
  • Connor McDavid gave his team the win in overtime (4-3) on a beautiful rush that saw him fly into Vegas’ zone with speed and finish the play off with a brilliant chip shot over the goaltender. Connor was buzzin’ all night long and it seemed like only a matter of time before he got one.
  • Given the way he’s been playing lately, it was no surprise to see Stuart Skinner get the start and I was expecting that he would, once again, provide the Oilers with the foundation needed to build themselves a win. I was expecting Skinner to make the saves we needed him to make and maybe even some that should have ended up in the net because the Oilers needed a win and they’d have to beat a really good team to make it happen. As hoped, Stu was everything we needed and then some as he was rock solid between the pipes once again, outduelling his counterpart with some key saves when it really mattered. Skinner finished with 31 saves and a .912 save%.
  • Make it another three-point night — two of them at 5v5, I should add — for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. My dude is having a fantastic season so far.
  • You’ve gotta give Darnell Nurse some love for picking up a pair of primary assists to go along with 23:21 in TOI, two shots on goal, two blocks, and three hits.
  • There’s no secret that the Oilers need their power play to be firing on all cylinders, and it was nice to see them get rewarded on 1-of-3 chances with the man advantage.
  • Not to be outdone, the Oilers also got the job done on the PK as they killed of all three shorthanded situations they faced.
  • How about Jesse Puljujarvi leading the team with five hits in his 13:59 of TOI? The kid is starting to throw his body around a little bit and I like it.
  • Klim Kostin appreciation post. I don’t know if he’s going to stick long term or not but the style he plays is the kind of thing that will endear him to a lot of people in this city.
  • The Oilers snapped their three-game losing streak at Rogers Place. Need to win at home and the boys picked up a big one.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Vegas tied the game (1-1) in the final moments of the first period after Shea Theodore’s point shot bounced off Keegan Kolesar’s back, popped up in the air, and fell just behind Stuart Skinner.
  • Mark Stone gave Vegas the lead (2-1) on a penalty shot after getting the opportunity as a result of Ryan Murray hooking/tripping him on a breakaway. Tough break for the Oilers and Skinner on this sequence. Stoned added a second goal midway through the third period (3-3) with a snipe from the slot that beat Skinner high over the glove after Theodore found him with all kinds of space to make a play.
  • While much better than we’ve seen at times over the past few weeks, the Oilers are still giving the puck up down low in their own zone way too much, and it’s starting to drive me nuts.
  • The NHL site had the Oilers listed with 24 giveaways compared to 11 for the Golden Knights. I believe it too because there were some doozies out there that Skinner was able to cover up.
  • The trend of getting outshot continues as Vegas put 34 shots on net compared to Edmonton getting only 23 shots.
  • Oilers got dummied in the faceoff circle, winning only 44% of the draws they took.
  • The refs were horrible but that’s a surprise to no one that watched this hockey game. Awful for both sides too.

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. 

BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I looked at why the Oilers should be sending Dylan Holloway back to Bakersfield and why playing Stuart Skinner right now is the right thing to do. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from! 
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