That’s a big win for the boys. Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
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This morning, Jason Gregor wrote in his game notes that the Oilers held a player-only meeting yesterday, and I was very intrigued to see how they were going to respond. As we know all too well, player-only meetings only happen when you’re sucking the hind banana, and I wanted to know whether or not the messages from that meeting sunk in as hoped. And right from the jump, the Oilers were absolutely buzzing. Shift after shift, the boys were attacking the Islanders in waves, and had it not been for Ilya Sorokin then they would have easily been up by at least a goal. I don’t know what was said in that damned meeting, but the players clearly needed to hear it as this was easily Edmonton’s best start to a game since the 7-2 blowout in Seattle a week ago. So even though it took a minute for Leon Draisaitl to get the Oilers on the board, it felt like only a matter of time with the way the boys were playing. And then when Kailer Yamamoto extended the lead with a beautiful shorthanded goal in the final minutes of the period, I found myself completely in awe about the way Edmonton dominated in every single way.
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Heading into the middle third, I wanted to know how the Oilers were going to follow up on what may have been their best opening 20 minutes of the season. I was looking for all gas and no brakes from our side, but you absolutely knew that the Islanders weren’t going to be happy about the way things started for them, meaning an early pushback was absolutely on the docket. And exactly as expected, the Isles hit the ice with purpose, pushed the pace early, and were rewarded with a quick goal by Mathew Barzal to halve the lead and pull themselves back in the game. Even though we all knew what was coming, the Oilers struggled to manage the heat. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Dylan Holloway responded with his second goal of the year on a one-timer from the high slot to restore the two-goal lead and put the boys back on track. It was like the early goal by New York was almost the jolt they needed to remember that this was still anybody’s game. And by the time Zach Hyman put the Oilers up by three on a beautifully executed breakaway, we were right back to Edmonton being in full control of this hockey game. I mean, yeah, Cal Clutterbuck picked up a lucky one late in the period, but that really didn’t change anything in terms of how this game was playing out.
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Up by a pair with a period left to play, the Oilers were right back in a position that has given them so much trouble over the last few weeks as they struggled to close out wins that seemed to be wrapped up. I mean, I don’t think it was unfair to feel nervous as the Oilers have found a way to blow a two-goal lead in the third period the last three times they’ve had one. So while I think we were all cautiously optimistic, it was hard to get too excited until the final buzzer sounded. And as the period wore on with the ice tilting back and forth, each shot on net felt more stressful than it actually was and each shift felt like the biggest moment of the game. But as the clock wound down to zero, I was impressed by the way the Oilers seemed to tighten up defensively rather than unravel disastrously as they had in the past. And while it would have absolutely been wonderful to grab another goal to seal the deal — Gord knows the boys had a few quality looks at the open net — you have to appreciate the way the boys locked things down in the final period. Not only did they find a way to shut the door, something that’s been a problem late in games, but they looked mostly composed while they were at it, and I’ll take more of that level of composure and execution every single time. That’s a big win for the boys at a time when they really needed one.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers (1-0) with a power play snipe from his office after Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid moved the puck around with precision before the two-time 50-goal man pumped it home.
  • Kailer Yamamoto extended the Oilers’ lead (2-0) with a shorthanded beauty that I will probably watch 50x before the night is through. McDavid fed Yamamoto with a pass at the opposing blue line and he unleashed a beautiful toe drag before zipping a wrister through Sorokin’s legs.
  • Shortly after Barzal got New York on the board, Dylan Holloway restored the Oilers’ two-goal lead (3-1) with a one-timer blast from the high slot that made its way through traffic and passed Sorokin down low on the blocker side.
  • Zach Hyman put the Oilers up by a field goal (4-1) after he took a breakaway pass from Leon Draisaitl, made a nifty deke to his backhand, and roofed the puck up and over Sorokin.
  • Jack Campbell was back between the pipes for the third straight game — he came in in relief against the Kraken on Tuesday — and looking to end this five-game losing streak at home. And while the team in front of him certainly gave him some run support and performance that set him up for success, Soup had to be steady in net to make sure that the hard work going on by the skaters wouldn’t get lost in the mix. And to his credit, Campbell was solid for the Oilers and I don’t think either of the goals he allowed were anything to be mad about, giving him a huge win at home to go along with what we hope is a boost of confidence overall. Campbell finished the night with 20 saves and a .909 save%.
  • I liked the way Klim Kostin played alongside Connor McDavid in his first chance up on the top line. Even though he didn’t score, I do love the way he was willing to jump in and defend his captain without hesitation and I think that’s an attitude that will keep him up there for a while.
  • Was it just me or did Evan Bouchard look a whole lot more comfortable on the blue line tonight than he has been in quite some time? He looked calm and confident, and his puck choices were much better than they have been, and that’s the exact kind of performance we need from him.
  • It was a big special teams night for the Oilers as they cashed in on 1-of-4 chances with the man advantage while also handling all three shorthanded situations they faced. That’s a good night, my friends.
  • 500th assist for Connor, and the 400th for Leon in the same game. That’s so romantic. Dynamic Duo forever.
  • If you’re a fan of the Corskis then you’ll be happy to learn that the Oilers outshot the Islanders by a 38-22 margin.
  • I feel like it bears repeating how fantastic this start was for the Edmonton Oilers. Sorokin is the only reason that this game wasn’t completely lopsided by the intermission.
  • I interviewed Evander Kane today and you should listen to it because it was a good time. 
  • Shout out to Team Canada for picking up the gold in what was an unbelievable gold medal game. Huge props have to go to Czechia too for the way they battled back into a tie game with only seven minutes left to play.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Mathew Barzal pulled the Islanders within one (2-1) on a snipe over Campbell’s shoulder, but the whole play started as a result of another blown breakout pass by the Oilers. They had control and they had options, but they couldn’t execute.
  • Cal Clutterbuck narrowed the gap to two (4-2) with a pretty wild deflection in front of the net on a point shot from Mayfield that looked like it was going four feet wide. Nothing Campbell could do about this one, and I’m honestly still a bit confused about how it ended up going in. Solid tip by Clutterbuck.
  • I’m going to keep complaining about the Oilers’ breakout until they can consistently clear their own zone without chucking grenades up the middle of the ice.
  • The Oilers won only 47% of the faceoffs but I guess I’ll give them a pass on it this time.

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST PERIODISLANDERSOILERS
9:26
Edmonton
Leon Draisaitl (22) (Power Play)
Assists: Connor McDavid (41), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (28)
0
1
18:40
Edmonton
Kailer Yamamoto (3) (Shorthanded)
Assists: Connor McDavid (42)
0
2
2ND PERIODISLANDERSOILERS
4:42
New York
Mathew Barzal (11)
Assists: Josh Bailey (11), Casey Cizikas (8)
1
2
8:34
Edmonton
Dylan Holloway (2)
Assists: Ryan McLeod (6), Philip Broberg (2)
1
3
15:17
Edmonton
Zach Hyman (18)
Assists: Leon Draisaitl (38), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (29)
1
4
19:07
New York
Cal Clutterbuck (4)
Assists: Scott Mayfield (5)
2
4
3RD PERIOD
No Goals Scored

#GOODCONTENT

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

After a rough loss to the Seattle Kraken, I was a wee bit upset on this week’s episode of Better Lait Than Never, which meant I had a hard time not running my mouth. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from! 
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