Every now and then a sporting event comes along that changes the way we see the world.
Sometimes the greatest and most competitive human beings are pitted against each other and in their most trying moments, discover deeper wells of determination, and invent entirely new ways to persevere.
We can’t look away from games of this magnitude. Indeed, they command a heightened alertness in our souls. We gaze deeply into them like some sort of change in the cosmos. A kind of eclipse over our lives.
This was one of those games.
The Oilers were greeted by a rabid Denver audience clamoring at the glass as the entire arena shook and rumbled.
Both teams battled back and forth relentlessly, with furious speed, when five minutes in, the Oilers drew first blood. Taylor Hall was bowled over on the boards but still maintained control of the puck, got the puck to Andrew Miller who quickly put over to Anton Lander by the net. Lander, exuding ferocity from his face, intimidated the Avalanche defence so much that they dared not approach. This afforded him time to wait for the right play. Brandon Davidson recognized this for his time walk his way into glory. He jumped in on the play, Lander sent it over for the one timer, and Davidson recorded his first NHL goal.
The goal sucked the air out of the building for one moment, before the audience resumed their calls for blood twice as loud as before.
The Avalanche would indeed find vengeance a short 10 minutes later with a truly unforgettable goal by Ryan O’Reilly.
The second period then took us to a darker dimension. Oiler centreman Rob Klinkhammer hooked Jordan Caron. It introduced a level violence we had not yet seen in the game and, in that, it was no longer just a hockey game. It became a whole world, dark, brooding, and hostile, that none of the players could escape. The clock was irrelevant. That moment was their eternity.
With four minutes left in the second period, the puck is sent back into the Avalanche defensive zone with Avs defenceman Nate Guenin unable to keep up with it. He is out-muscled by Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz who gets inside on him, robs him of the puck, and swoops in to score on the backhand.
Outside the city of Denver is on fire. Valkyries fly above the ice shrieking German opera.
Nikita Nikitin lobs in an empty netter from the other end of the ice.
Then Taylor Hall scores another empty netter off a pass from Andrew Miller.
Somewhere the word "Oilers" is on the lips of the gods.
15:10 OILERS GOAL Brandon Davidson first NHL goal, assisted Anton Lander, Andrew Miller. Preceded by great effort by Taylor Hall who is pushed over on the boards and still controls the puck and gets it to Miller. 1 - 0 Oilers
6:42 AVALANCHE GOAL Ryan O’Reilly assisted by Alex Tanguay, Nate Guenin Tied 1 - 1
Shots Oilers 15 - Avalanche 11
18:20 Nikita Nikitin slaps a loose puck. Big glove save by Semyon Varlamov
13:20 OILERS PENALTY Rob Klinkhammer hooking drawn by Jordan Caron
4:32 OILERS GOAL Justin Schultz. Avs defenceman slow to retrieve puck back in their own end, Schultz is already gaining on him with speed, steels it, and puts it in on his backhand as he streaks cuts in front of Varlamov. 2 - 1 Oilers
Shots Oilers 9 - Avalanche 11
2:07 OILERS EMPTY NET GOAL Nikita Nikitin. Off faceoff in defensive end, sends it down the ice for the insurance goal. 3 - 1 Oilers
1:35 OILERS EMPTY NET GOAL Taylor Hall 4 - 1 Oilers
Shots Oilers 12 - Avalance 8
Total shots Oilers 36 - Avalanche 30
Coming up next…
The Edmonton Oilers will raid and plunder their way into Anaheim to tear apart the Ducks on Wednesday, April 1st at 8:00 pm GMT.