Panthers 3, Lubricators 4 * (SO)
For 59 minutes, the Edmonton Oilers literally could not get out of their way. They followed the timer shot 28-16 and, most importantly, on the score 3-2. The Panthers had led three times, the goal to go forward having been a full-backstroke that pulled the sticks from two Oilers defenders. Fluke or not fluke, the argument could be (and was) made that the house team went on to merit.
But in the last few seconds, two familiar heroes came up for Oil. First Leon Draisaitl reached an ace of draw, stolen by a great save glove by James Reimer, who was an almost identical twin from the stop Connor Hellebuyck made out of Draisaitl in the final seconds of the last game at the Rogers Palace, a 4-4 loss for jets on New Year's Eve. But this time the accompanying script had a happier ending: the puck returned to Draisaitl along the goal line where he found Connor McDavid with a perfect feed that the phenomenon played at home with 8 ticks on the clock to ensure a much needed point and a 50% chance to win another.
Coming to overtime, the Oilers came out of their cocoon, dominating possession of the ball and firing 6 shots at Reimer, basically the same as they did in each of the three 20-minute periods. They could not solve it, but they could in the shooting. First Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, then McDavid defeated him, Cam Talbot waited for two Florida snipers on the other side, and so the Oilers came out of their own barn with two points for the first time in almost a month.
But what about the first 59 minutes? Hoo boy The Oilers struggled a lot to generate a lot and had some long stretches behind their own line of light.
Unfortunately, the TV broadcast was even worse than that of many viewers, an almost strobing strobe effect that persisted throughout the broadcast of Sportsnet. This observer was finally able to find an Internet feed, but I admit that I could not give this game my usual level of scrutiny. But I saw enough to recognize that it was just a handful of players who wanted the Oilers to win in a game where rank and file was not much done. Remember, neither visitors to a game than David Staples score He only saw 5 Grade A chances to score for the two teams combined through 59 minutes before the Oilers erupted with 7 straight in the last 6 minutes of action. Weird game.
# 4 Kris Russell, 7. Played 24 minutes at the top of the Oilers, and better, pairing. I had the best shot scores of any Oilers defender. While his partner was doing most of the offensive driving, Russell contributed several defensive stops in individual battles against Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov. I made a penalty after a turnover. A deserved +2 in the evening.
# 5 Kevin Gravel, 4. The third pair of Oilers was used sparingly and fought hard for the disk to move north. Attempts to shoot only 3 for, 11 against during his 12 minutes of resistance.
# 6 Adam Larsson, 3. His game went south and his luck was underground. He's been involved in no less than three goals in the last two games, just a horrible run of bad luck on the puck. Only tonight but it had to be seen – several times in super slo-mo – to be believed, when Caleb Jones cleared the shot of about 30 centimeters he grabbed the handle of Larsson's bat and fired inside the post to put the Oil 3 -2 below with only 6 minutes remaining. That put the cherry at the top of a sundae for Larsson, who had his defensive difficulties for much of the game (including some problems with puck management in the Panthers' second goal) and had a not-so-brilliant dash-3 to prove it.
# 16 Jujhar Khaira, 4. He showed a few flashes, but not even close to them. He played 13 minutes during which he produced 0 "events" – shooting attempts, hits, defensive stops – while spending most of his time alone. Attempts to kick were + 4 / -11 and goals + 0 / -1 on his turn. He made a penalty for goalkeeper interference on one of the rare times when his group established possession in the zone-o, but later scored a penalty at good speed. 4/10 = 40% on the spot.
# 22 Tobias Rieder, 4. Finally he fired a shot in the goal, and a decent, last minute overtime, surprisingly enough. But he was not an important factor for most of the game, unless you evaluate the defensive error he made in the first goal of Florida. Shots on the net were a miserable + 3 / -12 during their 12.5 5v5 minutes. Did your best pen work kill?
# 23 Ryan Spooner, 4. Marginal player in a marginal role. 0 shots. His best moments were on the defensive side of the record (2 hits, 1 takeaway, 1 shot block). Played only 6:30 at night.
# 25 Darnell Nurse, 9. An absolute force all night, the nurse threw a monstrous 31:49 in 38 innings – both highs of the team for the season – leading the defense body in the TOi in all three disciplines … or all four depending of his vision of 3v3 2:45 He also led the club with 12 attempts at shooting and 8 shots on goal (all the advanced body gathered a mere 11), and his 4 hits and 2 blocks also led the way. Now consider that he scored the first goal Oilers, set up the second, and was involved in the build-up for the third, ending the night +3. All over the ice.
# 27 Milan Lucic, 5. A decent chance at the beginning (they told me), in line with RNH and Puljujarvi, which was largely maintained. But his position error was part of the second Florida goal. Later, he did a firing block and zone elimination to allow several tired teammates to get a chance to change.
# 28 Kyle Brodziak, 4. It is not an important factor. He played only 6 minutes in evens and another 1:25 in PK, where he did his best job. 4/7 = 57% in the face circle.
# 29 Leon Draisaitl, 8. He played a gigantic 28:34, the second among the NHL-wide strikers throughout the season … behind a guy named "Leon Draisaitl" who played 28:46 in the other 65-minute game of the Oilers this season. His legs were moving and he produced several zone innings outside the race. Drew two penalties, one of which was actually called. Another strong play on the point (13/21 = 62%) with one of those wins, gaining an assist in the first goal of McDavid. More critical was the apple he won in the last breathless goal, just a superb traffic pass that found the friendlier sticks on the edge of the blue paint. He had a wonderful period of overtime, particularly a play in which he started behind his own net, hit by a tall man to lead a 3-2 run, and then found McDavid with a lead pass for a chance that came in an ace to finish this a little earlier.
# 33 Cam Talbot, 5. It faced a good amount of rubber and zone pressure, but relatively few difficult shots. Beaten under the bat's arm by Frank Vatrano's external shot, and punted out a greasy recovery that was eventually converted by Denis Malgin. No chance at all. His best moments were in the shooting, when he diverted Huberdeau and Barkov to victory. He took some shots from the mask. 30 shots, 27 saves, 900 saves percentage.
# 39 Alex Chiasson, 7. An excellent behind the Nurse pass in the first goal of the Tankers, and a critical recovery of puck and feeding for Draisaitl in the crucial score of 3-3. He almost won in OT with a change of pace from a RNH recovery time that almost split poor James Reimer in half in his successful attempt to keep him out. He threw a huge 23:42 in one night Hitchcock rode his biggest hard horses.
# 44 Zack Kassian, 4. He skated well but did not make much happen.
# 45 Joseph Gambardella, incomplete. He left the game not because of injury but because of the coach's decision in the game, playing only 2:21, all in the opening frame.
# 82 Caleb Jones, 4. He was caught napping in the first goal of the Panthers when he was burned by a pass to the scorer. Desperately unlucky in the score of 3-2. But Hitchcock continued to depend on him a ton, playing with the 22:49 boy in all situations, including the 6-on-5 critic and more than 2 minutes of the extra period. It showed very good judgment and execution on o-zone pincers. He also made a good 2-for-1 stop in Florida when he got on the puck carrier, Colton Sceviour, and stopped the thrust.
# 83 Matt Benning, 4. Back to the line-up in the third pair, who spent much of the night in chase mode. He even broke the most important goal count at + 0 / -0.
# 93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Like Draisaitl, he spent some time in the center, some in the ward, and they still have a couple of turns with each other. He had the best game flow statistics in the club with + 16 / -10 in shooting attempts during his time in 5v5. His 22:35 was only in fourth place among the Oilers' attackers but rose 7 minutes above # 5, with Hitchcock relying on his Big Four. He had 6 attempts at firing to lead the attackers. He was also the unlikely leader among the Oil attackers on successes, with 3, and the coping percentage at 8/10 = 80%. It made a glorious backhand saucers pass to McDavid that the phenomenon tried to end with a movement between the legs, but just lacked. RNH was great at overtime, taking the drive to the network a couple of different times. He scored the "decisive goal of play" in the shooting, not that you find him in your wagons.
# 97 Connor McDavid, 8. He had one of those nights that Wayne Gretzky used to have occasionally, where this observer was thinking "he was not at the top of his game, he was not clicking well, problems penetrating, yada yada", but then a look at the summary shows " goal, goal "and finally an extremely positive factor in victory. One big reason for him to have a difficult sled was an impressive display of Florida's excellent pivot Aleksander Barkov, who was on the 97 grid for much of the game but somehow he managed to get past that and put 2-1-3, +2 on the board. . Only the 2 pitches in the regulation, both goals, and another one in the overtime that almost put him aside. Was involved in 7 of the 9 chances of Edmonton Grade A score, said nuff. Added the game's ™ hit when he chunched fellow OHL Exceptional NHL cum first General Pick Aaron Ekblad. Oh yes, added the snipe of the shooting that almost sealed the victory.
# 98 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. Solid defensively, it did not generate much. He had an unpleasant fall, though comical in appearance, when he picked up and hit the boards, fortunately he was not injured. Perhaps the game that summed up his game was when he got a chance to slip a fast backhand through Draisaitl steaming up in the middle, but it took an extra fraction of a second to try to make the game in his forehand and it was checked. The attackers need to be as weak as the second fastest to succeed in this league, and J.P. is still a work in progress in that regard.
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