You love to see it. Final Score: 6-4 Oilers
I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that the Edmonton Oilers need to figure out how to start on time. Outside of Tuesday’s game against Buffalo, the Oilers haven’t been able to get themselves going from the opening draw and that was simply not going to work against a team with as many weapons as the Hurricanes. Like it or not, Carolina is a very good hockey team *spits* and I was nervous about what they would be able to do if the Oilers screwed around for the first 10 or 15 minutes again. And like an answer to our prayers, the boys hit the ice with energy and managed to make it through the first half without looking like a dumpster fire in their own zone. Toss in the fact that Zach Hyman grabbed his first goal of the year and gave the Oilers their first lead since the opener and you’ve got a nice little dose of sunshine to clear up some of the dark clouds that have been hanging around over the last few days. It wasn’t a perfect period, but dammit I’ll take a one-goal lead over a two-goal hole any day.
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Moving into the second period, I was looking for the Oilers to keep doing what they were doing with the exception of maybe getting a few more bodies toward the front of the net. I love a pretty goal as much as the next guy, but there’s something about a greasy marker that really gets the blood pumping. The first step, of course, would be for the Oilers to keep their foot on the gas and avoid reverting back to the sloppiness that burned them against the Flames and Sabres. If that could do that, we’d be fine. Instead, what we got was an early goal against by Svechnikov that sent my heart falling into my ginch, fear of the worst creeping its way back into my mind like an acid flashback. Not again, I thought. Thankfully, the Oilers responded soon after with a pair of quick goals from McLeod and Kane to restore their lead with a little bit of insurance for good measure. Despite not having a stellar period, the Oilers found some offence and it was refreshing to see after getting goalie’d on Thursday by Buffalo. The Hurricanes did get one back before the period ended, but the Oilers maintained their lead heading into the intermission.
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Up by one with a period to play, the Oilers were in a good spot to get back in the win column provided that they could keep a handle on the inevitable pushback that Carolina was bound to throw their way. As is the case in every NHL game, there’s always a storm to weather when you’re trying to defend the lead, and it was going to be a major test for the Oilers to see if they could make it through. What I didn’t necessarily expect was that the Oilers and Hurricanes would continue trading goals back and forth like some kind of stressful seesaw. It was one of those nights that seemed like the last save would be the difference, and that made for a nail-biter finish for anyone cheering for the home side. Yet, despite the lack of breathing on my side of the TV screen, the Oilers found a way to bend without breaking and close out a win they worked their asses off to earn. Even though there were still way too many WTF moments that need to get cleaned up, the boys got themselves back in the win column against a very good team, and I’m hopeful this result will give them a boost of confidence going forward. By no means was it perfect, but the Oilers just beat a damned good team and I think we can all be happy with the result even though the journey to get there was anything but smooth.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Zach Hyman opened the scoring (1-0) with a power play goal after he was able to get his stick on Tyson Barrie’s point shot while parked in his office out front. The goal was not only huge for the Oilers but also got Hyman on the board with his first of the season. I love this guy so much.
  • Ryan McLeod restored Edmonton’s lead (2-1) with a shorthanded marker that saw him and RNH break into the zone on a 2-on-1 rush that they executed perfectly. Nugent-Hopkins with a beautiful pass, McLeod with a nifty little deke and finish through the legs.
  • Just over two minutes after McLeod’s shortie, Evander Kane picked up his first goal of the year (3-1) on a backhander that fooled Andersen after McDavid found him charging toward the net with enough time and space to make a sandwich and enjoy it too. Kane had a truckload of chances against the Sabres but just couldn’t get anything to stick so I was happy to see him get on the board against the Canes.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins restored the two-goal lead (4-2) after Zach Hyman battled his way out of a pile in the corner and found RNH near the goal line with a wide open net from a tough angle. To Nuge’s credit, he found a way to take the pass on his skate, kick it up to his stick, and bury his shot into the open cage. How about a four-point (1G, 3A) night for my boy? The king is back.
  • Leon Draisaitl put the Oilers back up by a pair (5-3) with another power play goal after he somehow found himself alone in front of the net and ready to tee off on McDavid’s centering pass. I mean, it was a bold strategy to leave Draisaitl with that much time and space but I’m thankful for the attempt.
  • Connor McDavid wrapped things up with an empty-netter (6-4) to cap off what was a fantastic fourth point of the night for the captain. Just a ridiculous start to the season for McDavid.
  • As much as Oilers fans wanted Jack Campbell to give us a better start than he did against Calgary, I’d bet that he is putting more pressure on himself than any of us ever could. After playing in Toronto for a few years, he knows exactly what can happen in a Canadian market when you’re not playing at your best, and with a five-year contract in his pocket, I was betting on seeing a very motivated individual between the pipes against the Canes. And while I’m sure there’s a goal or two he’d want back from this game, Soup battled from start to finish and made some huge saves at key moments to keep his team in the lead and eventually cash in the win. Campbell finished the night with 36 saves and a .900 save%.
  • Happy birthday, Dad! The NHL website says you’re 23 but I know that’s supposed to be 53. I was also very happy to see Bouchard rewarded with an assist on the shorthanded goal by McLeod after his pass was the reason the odd-man rush came together in the first place.
  • The Oilers were really good on the power play in a game when we needed the offence, and it was refreshing to see them fishing on two of five opportunities after getting shut out on Tuesday against the Sabres.
  • Oilers went 51% in the faceoff circle and you love to see it.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Early in the second period, Andrei Svechnikov tied the game (1-1) with a heavy wrist shot from the high slot that beat Campbell clean between the arm and body. No doubt about it, Campbell needs to stop that. Svechnikov added a second goal later in the period (3-2) to pull Carolina back to within one with another bullet of a wrister from the circle that beat Campbell just inside the post. As much as I didn’t like the first goal, this dude’s shot is sneaky quick and problematic. Early in the third period, Svechnikov completed the hat trick (4-3) after Aho found him on what looked like a set faceoff play that gave him a wide-open look on net.
  • Martin Necas pulled Carolina back to within a goal (5-4) after the Hurricanes weaved their way through the neutral zone with ease, entered the zone with speed, and finished the play off with a pretty passing play.
  • The penalty kill gave up two goals on five shorthanded situations, and that’s something we’ll want to clean up sooner than later. I know you can’t be perfect every night, but there is certainly room for improvement.
  • Oilers were outshot 40-33 and I hope that won’t always be the case against the stronger teams. They need to tighten up defensively and do a better job of making life difficult in the neutral zone.
  • I don’t to be that guy after a win but we need to get some help on the back end. Ryan Murray is a bandaid on a wound that needs a few stitches.

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 BLTN, I ran through my excitement for a new Oilers season, told a story about “meeting” Jack Campbell, my love of blink-182, and a whole lot more. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from!