Here is where I fully admit that I both slept through the first five minutes, and forgot to record the game tonight. Such is life as an Oilers fan in the throngs of a McDavidless, winless, joyless stretch of mid-November hockey. So basically, how it’s been every year for the past decade or so. Anyways, the first thing I saw when I turned the game on was the Kings’ goalie robbing Teddy Purcell after some nice work by Taylor Hall on the end boards, so things are looking up. Looks like that was the Oilers’ first shot on goal. Oh, and at some point during those first five minutes, the Kings scored. So we missed literally nothing. Now then, onward.
Predictably, I’ve not seen any other chances directed toward the Kings’ net since I began watching. The Kings have been doing what they do, with their usual bland effectiveness. One thing the Kings are not is exciting. Unless you find like, flu shots, exciting, there’s really nothing here for you.
Around the ten minute mark, the Oilers finally strung together a few shifts in the Kings’ zone. First Eberle and Pouliot did some straw-stirring, then Nail Yakupov turned the puck over and appeared to stuff it in past the goal line. The play was briefly reviewed, and the powers that be decided against the good guys. The Oilers not getting a review go their way against the Kings? We’ve seen this show before. When Michael Bay directs your video reviews, how can anyone know what’s happening anyway? Hollywood sucks.
Following the review, the game continued with the all of the white-knuckle thrills you’d expect from a good, solid afternoon nap. The Hall line was still trying to keep me awake, which I appreciate, drawing another excellent, reflexive save from the Kings’ goaltender. Teddy Purcell has created his fair share of chaos tonight on the top unit. The other lines seemed to notice this good work, too, and the Oilers have grown into the period to some degree.
The Kings didn’t just disappear though, and handled the Oilers’ pushback with relative ease. The antagonists enjoyed a brief spell in the Oilers’ end and before long, took advantage of an awful turnover by Reinhart and some inexplicable defending by Gryba to go up 2-0 with just over a minute remaining. It’s hard to see the bright side after that one. That was about as Oilers as it gets, and Eric Gryba is going to give me a stroke.
The Oilers did sniff out a glorious chance after Yakupov did well to gain the zone. Matt Hendricks tried to play give and go with Andrej Sekera, but couldn’t put the toe on the tic tac. The Oilers went into the first intermission down 2-0, being outshot 14-7, and losing the Corsi battle 27-14. Serenity now.
Well, we have to do this two more times because that’s how this stupid game works. Not long after the opening faceoff, Sekera made a soft play up the wall and turned the puck over, but Cam Talbot was there to make the save and bail him out.
Nail Yakupov makes me happy. I will never not root for him, and if you say anything bad about him in the comments I’ll have you banned immediately. Our Russian hero flew down the ice and delivered another solid shot on goal for the good guys. Shortly after that, the Kings captain, reprising his role as Dirty Slug #4, tried to hack Gryba’s ear off with his stick. He must have money on the Oilers or something, which begs the question: "WHO PUTS MONEY ON THE OILERS?"
A minute into the Oilers’ powerplay and they’ve directed one shot at net, and otherwise struggled mightily with getting set up in the o-zone. Leave it to Nail Yakupov to save the day. The Oilers finally generated a couple of shots on net on the back of a nifty controlled entry by our local enigma. None of them went in, but it really feels like a moral victories kind of night. Let me have this.
WHOA. 2-1 for the bad guys, but WHOA. Reinhart and Gryba started the breakout in the Oilers zone, getting the puck to Leon Draisaitl at speed. Super sexy Draisaitl then looked across the ice at a streaking Taylor Hall and found him in stride. As soon as Hall crossed the Kings’ blue line, he attacked with speed, crossed into the middle and found Draisaitl. Draisaitl scored because that’s what he does now, and the Oilers are right back in this thing.
On the very next play, Jordan Eberle took a break from making cakes or being Mark Giordano’s best friend for a few minutes and drove to the net. Some King was trying to wear Benoit Pouliot like a Baby Bjorn and took a penalty for interference. The Oilers are showing some life here.
The second powerplay struggled to set up in the Kings’ zone again, but the Yakupov unit kept the puck in and generated a few chances during the last minute. The Kings are arguably lucky to be up by one given some of these opportunities. The powerplay ended with no damage done but it did feel like a momentum powerplay. Sure enough, the first shift after the man advantage saw the Hall line continue to bring the heat, and all of a sudden, the Kings are on the ropes a little bit.
But, being on the ropes and being on the canvas are two completely different things. Not long after weathering the small storm, the Kings took advantage of the Reinhart-Gryba pair again and were able to tap home after their man was left all alone in front. Real chalkboard stuff here. X’s and O’s. Eric Gryba is going to give me a stroke. Have I said that yet?
I assure you, other things are happening. The game hasn’t ended. None of the things are worth writing about though. Yakupov continuing to impress. Ho hum.
HOLY. 3-2 for the bad guys, but HOLY. Teddy Purcell has been having a bit of a personal renaissance lately, with his usual heady play finally turning into some production on the scoresheet. After a brief spell of pressure by the Gazdic line, the Oilers found themselves mid-change in the offensive zone. Draisaitl and Purcell combined well in the corner until Purcell took the puck out near the top of the circles and wired a wrist shot home through a Gazdic screen. Good for him.
The Oilers followed the goal with the Yakupov line and, as you might expect, generated some havoc in the Kings’ zone. Is it happening?!
Nope. Not this period anyway. Both teams continued to hockey for a few minutes, with nothing of note to report other than a weird Sandstorm-esque reverb coming through my TV. What the hell is that? I blame Michael Bay. And Rogers.
With a shade under two minutes remaining in the period, Jordan Eberle took a penalty for making a cake but not making enough icing for it. Seriously. Ice your cakes kids. Nothing worse than a dry cake.
The Oilers managed to escape the period without conceding again and headed into the break down 3-2, being outshot 21-18, and losing the Corsi battle 44-42. It really was a great period for the good guys, and I must admit that it is a welcome change to see the Oilers fighting in every game this year. Sure, they still lose a lot, but at least they don’t quit this year. Not yet anyway.
The third period started off like all the others do: with a faceoff. Not long after the faceoff, Klefbom got his stick somewhere near the hands of an opponent and took a penalty for cheating.
About forty seconds into the LA powerplay, the LA fans started to chant "You suck!" I can’t confirm, but I’m pretty confident they showed Michael Bay on the big screen. Again, just a hunch, but I know that’s how I’d respond. The Kings managed to throw a couple of pucks at Cam Talbot but nothing really dangerous. First bullet dodged. You’d have to think the Oilers would have almost no chance if they conceded on the PK here.
Draisaitl’s skating has improved so much from last year. He just finished chasing Kopitar back across three lines to pick off an entry pass and turn the puck back in the right direction. What an animal. A big sexy animal.
In a strange turn of events, the Oilers took an offensive zone penalty because the defenseman’s stick exploded when Lander went to check it. Those goddamn Hollywood prop sticks. Michael Bay is everywhere.
This Kings’ powerplay has been far more dangerous. Within the first thirty seconds, Cam Talbot had to make two excellent saves to keep the score as is. After that initial flurry though, the Oilers PK settled down and killed off the rest without too much trouble.
The Oilers sent out Draisaitl and Hall following the PK, and they created a great chance for Purcell in the slot before drawing a penalty through Draisaitl’s hard work on the boards.
The powerplay began with a lost faceoff, but the Oilers wasted little time in getting the puck back in the o-zone and setting up. The Oilers couldn’t create a real clear cut opportunity, but were able to control the puck on the perimeter before the Kings were finally able to clear. The Oilers worked the puck back in the zone before Sekera blasted a shot right at the crest of the Kings’ goalie. The second unit came out to see the rest of the powerplay off but couldn’t get the equalizer.
Following the powerplay, the game started to open up. Real end to end stuff. Taylor Hall looks like a threat to score every time he touches the puck. That line has been full value tonight and definitely seems the most likely to tie it for the protagonists.
JUST LIKE THAT! 3-3. Taylor Hall made an excellent play to gather the loose puck at his own blue line and turn up ice. He made a short pass to a waiting Draisaitl who slid a nifty through pass to a charging Teddy Purcell. Purcell made a heads up play after drawing two Kings to him and found a pinching Klefbom on his backhand. The young rearguard then found Hall, who had since made his way into a dangerous area, to one-time the puck home for the game tying goal. What’d I tell you guys? Taylor Hall is the bee’s knees. He knows how to appropriately ice a cake, if you catch my drift.
The Oilers followed up their GTG with the Lander line, and promptly took a penalty after Lander tried to swing dance with one of the Kings’ forwards. Squeaky bum time is upon us.
The Kings generated a couple of chances with the man advantage but they were able to kill it. Not long after the penalty expired, Cam Talbot made a questionable play putting the puck up the half wall and into the Kings’ possession. A quick shot from a bad angle left a juicy rebound in the high slot, and the Kings’ forward outmuscled Mark Fayne and fired home with just under two minutes remaining. A real heartbreaker.
In the dying moments, the Oilers sent out Jordan Eberle as the extra attacker with Hall’s line and the Klefbom pairing. A couple of decent chances ensue but nothing clear cut. The Oilers managed to earn another offensive zone draw and took their timeout to try and draw up a miracle. It’ll be a real shame if the Oilers don’t get a point out of this one, as they’ve really been full value for their comeback today. It’s been a treat to watch, and the Oilers have made a habit of not turning these resilient efforts into points of any kind. At some point, that has to change.
Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn’t come any closer than they did a few seconds earlier, and the game ends 4-3, with the Oilers outshot 28-25 and on the losing end of the Corsi battle 60-52.
Honestly, I’m not even mad. After the first period, this game had all the characteristics of those classic games in LA where the Oilers lose 3 or 4 nothing but really don’t have a sniff at the points for the last forty minutes, and are just toyed with by the superior side. This one was different. The Oilers were thoroughly pumped in the first period, but honestly were as good as their counterparts from then on and really should feel hard done by to leave with nothing to show for it. I’d like to see Cam Talbot do better on the GWG, and would love to stop trying to take the positives out of another Oilers defeat, but this one was kind of palatable.
Also, Taylor Hall is a saint. He’s inarguably one of the best wingers in hockey and hasn’t played a meaningful game past October in his entire career. He’s a jewel and we should be thankful every day that we get the chance to watch him in his prime.
Now, the Oilers get a welcome three days off before battling the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Hopefully that’s enough time to get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back on solid foods and back in the lineup. God knows the Oilers could use him.