We should be celebrating a win. Final Score: 5-3 Lightning
I can’t be the only one that was both nervous and excited about the way this game would go, right? At 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, the Oilers are unquestionably playing better — not only are the boys winning but the vibes around here are just so much lighter — but this game against the Lightning was a real test of where they’re at. And when you’re up against a back-to-back Cup winner, there’s simply no room for sloppy mistakes and anything less than a balls-out effort wouldn’t be good enough. Jacked up and ready to go, the Oilers hit the ice with plenty of energy and did a really nice job of producing chances for themselves without giving much up in their own end. Honestly, it was a fantastic start. Had they been able to get a save, we probably would have been raving about how the boys had a great period against one of the league’s best, but unfortunately, we were talking about two goals against on only five shots. A bad bounce and a deflection for sure, but at some point… you know. You know.
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The good news is that the Oilers started this game very well, and if they could carry that effort and attention to detail into the second period then there was a decent chance they’d be able to battle back. The most important thing, however, was making sure they didn’t give up the next goal. If they went down by a pair then it was going to be a hell of a battle if they were going to get anything out of this hockey game. Unfortunately, the Oilers were not the ones to score next. In fact, they weren’t the ones to score the next three goals, and by the time that the fourth one went in, I could already taste the vomitous beets wreaking havoc on my insides. From my side of the TV screen, I saw a strong effort that was being wasted by costly mistakes and that was an incredible bummer on a night when I thought the boys were playing well. I mean, I wish I could have gotten more excited about Zach Hyman’s beautiful goal that he scored towards the end of the period, but it can be tough to get fired up when there’s still so much work left to be done.
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Down by a pair with 20 minutes to play, I wasn’t exactly feeling hopeful that we’d be able to get any points out of this thing so I was really just looking for the boys to finish off strong and hopefully make it interesting. If they could get a quick one to start off the period then who knows what could happen, right? Of course, scoring goals against Vasilevskiy is easier said than done so they were also going to need some luck if they were going to find a way to get two past him. But then, midway through the frame, Connor McDavid came up with his second goal of the game to halve Tampa’s lead and give his team a chance to do something special. Not only did they have plenty of time to work with, but McDavid’s goal also gave the boys some momentum and the big question became whether or not they’d be able to use it to get the rest of this job done. Unfortunately, despite a fantastic effort down the stretch, the gap was just too great to overcome and that made for a heartbreaking result since the Oilers really did play extremely well and probably deserved better. Pain.
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The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • @Connor McDavid tied the game at one apiece (1-1) with a power play goal after he snapped a low wrister that buzzed by Vasilevskiy low on the blocker side. McDavid scored a second time midway through the third period (4-3) to pull his team to within one after he fired a sexy wrister to the glove side that was made possible when Hyman found him flying through the high slot with speed.
  • @Zach Hyman pulled the Oilers back to within a pair (4-2) after Draisaitl found him with a stretch pass that put the winger in alone with enough time and space to make move to his backhand and lift the puck up and over an outstretched goaltender.
  • How about another casual three-point night for Leon Draisaitl? The dude is a machine. A well-oiled machine.
  • Ryan McLeod deserves more love on the site because he’s developing into a hell of a hockey player, and I’m very excited to see what he turns into once he’s truly figured out how things roll at this level.
  • Another big night for @Darnell Nurse on the back end as he finished with three shots, two hits, and a block while playing a team-high 25:01 in TOI.
  • I believe in Jay Woodcroft for real.
  • I will not post a wrap up without acknowledging Markus Niemalainen for the way he throws his giant body around.
  • Congratulations to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on game 700. It’s been a hell of a ride, my friend.
  • Despite heavily outplaying the Lightning for most of this hockey game, the Oilers somehow got only one power play chance but at least they did not waste it.
  • If you’re into the fancies, I bring you a report from the spreadsheets which states that the Oilers finished the night with a 62.5 CF% and a 61.18 xGF%.
  • If you love a good Corski win then you’re probably excited about outshooting the Lightning by a 30-23 margin.
  • At least I can tell you that the Oilers won 57% of the faceoffs.
  • Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • Average goaltending would have given us two points in the standings.
  • Are you surprised that Pat Maroon opened the scoring? (1-0) You’re not, are you? Maroon got a lucky one as the rebound from his low backhander took a friendly bounce into the net off of Devin Shore’s skate.
  • Only a minute and a half after McDavid tied it, Steven Stamkos atoned himself for that penalty with a turn-and-fire goal (2-1) that ramped up off Lagesson’s stick and over Smith’s shoulder. It was the second Tampa goal on only their fifth shot.
  • Brayden Point extended Tampa’s lead (3-1) after he found a loose puck right in the crease and was able to take a couple of whacks until eventually pumping it over the line. Another goal that Smith should have made a better play on? I believe so.
  • @Corey Perry put the Lightning up by a field goal (4-1) after he deflected Sergachev’s shot from the high slot as he was flying through the crease. Not much chance for Smith on this one, but by then, the boys were in a hole that looked insurmountable.
  • Nikita Kucherov iced the game with the empty-netter (5-3) with only a few seconds left on the clock.
  • Another game, another power play goal against. We need to figure out how the PK can keep teams off the board, and even though killing 3-of-4 shorthanded situations is horrible by any means, we can still do better.
  • The Oilers played well enough to win this hockey game but couldn’t get the level of goaltending that could match their counterparts. That’s not all Smith’s fault, but it is his problem and I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. Smith finished the night with 18 saves and a .818 save%.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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LISTEN TO BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On this week’s podcast, I looked at Jay Woodcroft’s effect on the team and how he could have been The Answer all along.