Save your thanks, Calgary. This one’s for Richard Bachman.
For one brief glimmer in time, all of the Western Conference cheered for the Edmonton Oilers.
This win severely cripples the LA Kings playoff plans as they vie for the Flames’ third spot in the Pacific Division. Meanwhile Calgary won their game tonight against Arizona. Winnipeg beat St. Louis, and Minnesota clinched a playoff spot with a win over Chicago.
This just may have been the most passionate Oiler game of the season.
Most of the Oilers wins this season, it seems, have come when they have played for each other. This one is dedicated to newcomer Richard Bachman who returns to the game after the tragic loss of his brother. Bachman would be given the game puck once the game was over.
Tyler Pitlick made his own return to the game after 41 games missed due to a lacerated spleen incurred in a game against Calgary. He would score a crucial goal in his first game back.
Taylor Hall was back on the first line as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out with injury.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter played second string goalie Martin Jones, which sent a few messages.
At first it felt awfully gracious of him to spare us lowly Oilers who they whipped 8-2 last Thursday. But then you have to think, he is not the type of coach to give his team a safety net while they still fight for a playoff spot. He wants his team to be playing with frenetic energy, no excuses.
I got the sense his message to his team was, if you can’t win this one with Jones, there’s no point even thinking about the playoffs. Well, Mr. Sutter, YOU GUYS GOT PLAYED OUT. Hit the beach, Doughty.
Sure, the Kings were on their second night of a back-to-back, but you know what? Playoffs. Teams that play like they want to win in the playoffs save being tired for July.
From the opening faceoff, the Oilers must have looked like a completely different team compared to last week. They were bumping, and crashing and fighting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Oilers even put a shot on net for the first seven and a half minutes.
Five minutes in, Keith Aulie laid a big hit on Marian Gaborik, which led to an immediate fight with Brayden McNabb. And the Oilers just kept rolling.
Shortly after Matt Fraser got a great one on Kings captain Dustin Brown behind the Kings’ net. Then Matt Hendricks leveled Jake Muzzin.
Then Taylor Hall was the first hero of the game. Not with a goal but a key toe save as Richard Bachman got caught out of place. Hall filled the whole net and stopped a scary shot. It also indicated the whole team was playing for Bachman.
Then the first period ends with Benoit Pouliot dropping Robyn Regehr and Richard Bachman makes a huge glove save.
So, you’d think after a lackluster first by the Kings and still a scoreless game, the Kings would come out like werewolves, right? Not really. The Oilers still pushed forward to start off the second period, including a ringer off the post by Teddy Purcell.
But it would be Matt Fraser getting the first goal of the game. Martin Marincin received the puck after the Oilers win a faceoff. He slaps it on net and the Kings’ "superstar" defense have completely forgotten about Matt Fraser all alone up there and he pops in the rebound.
Three minutes later, though, the Kings would capitalize on the powerplay. A shot by Anze Kopitar goes wide and bounces behind the boards to Jake Muzzin waiting on the other side, tying the game at one each.
Thank goodness for Trevor Lewis though as he stays behind the play to check Rob Klinkhammer. It leads to the puck getting chipped up to Benoit Pouliot for a breakaway who snipes the top corner. 2-1 Oilers. (Lewis and Klinkhammer are both sent to the box afterward for some roughhousing).
At the top of the third period, Anze Kopitar almost evens it up but Matt Hendricks makes a great defensive play by getting inside Kopitar’s armpit and voiding his chance on the net.
It’s almost six minutes into the third when Tyler Pitlick pucks up a loose puck and has the patience to pick a corner and pop it in. 3-1 Oilers.
Halfway through the third, though, Drew Doughty lets a blistering slapshot go from centre ice and the puck finds its way through Bachman’s legs.
The next ten minutes are about as tense a ten minutes Oiler fans have probably had this year. At one point Drew Doughty is upended in front of the net and throws a complete hissyfit when no penalty is called.
The Kings’ defense struggle to keep the puck in the Oilers’ zone though. Yakupov is able to skate it to centre ice and get it Fraser who finds the empty net with one second left.
Enjoy your four games in the playoffs, Calgary.
15:38 FIGHT Keith Aulie and Brayden McNabb 2:00 each for fighting.
13:20 KINGS PENALTY Dwight King hooking drawn by Nail Yakupov
17:26 OILERS GOAL Matt Fraser, assisted by Martin Marincin, Anton Lander 1-0 Oilers
14:27 OILERS PENALTY Keith Aulie delay of game, puck over glass
14:16 KINGS POWERPLAY GOAL Jake Muzzin assisted by Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty Tied 1-1
6:21 OILERS GOAL Benoit Pouliot 2-1 Oilers
6:21 PENALTIES Trevor Lewis and Rob Klinkhammer, roughing
14:29 OILERS GOAL Tyler Pitlick 3-1 Oilers
10:59 OILERS PENALTY Derek Roy hooking drawn by Justin Williams
10:22 KINGS POWERPLAY GOAL Drew Doughty. From centre ice. Blugh. 3-2 Oilers
00:01 OILERS GOAL Matt Fraser, assisted by Nail Yakupov 4-2 Oilers
BIG respect for Tyler Pitlick tonight.Given nature of his injury& how it occurred 1 might expect him to be a bit tentative.He's playing hard— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) April 8, 2015
Both Edmonton and Calgary cheering for the Oilers right now so I guess we know who Alberta's team is, right?— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@ibleedoil) April 8, 2015
"I was just trying to get on TSN's top 10 misplays. I'm sure that will do it. Thankfully we won." Bachman joking about Doughty goal.— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) April 8, 2015
Sens, Flames, Jets: all win Oilers: beat L.A. Canucks: clinch Habs: already in Leafs: nobody got their hair caught in the skate sharpener— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) April 8, 2015
Nice to see the Oilers play like a team with purpose tonight. You don't think they are playing different? Tonight was for Bachman #ILoveThat— Kelly (@pipefitter34) April 8, 2015
@NHLFlames You're welcome... I guess.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 8, 2015