Through the Oilers' first forty games of the season I'd managed to completely avoid writing a game recap. But since I don't want people to think that I'm not a team player, I volunteered to take on the task for tonight's game between the Oilers and the Hurricanes.
Once you've written a few dozen of these they can start to be a little tricky - honestly, how many different ways can you write that the Oilers sucked? As a fan you obviously want to see a good game, and if you're writing the recap that works out great as it gives you plenty of material. If that's not in the cards then a lopsided affair, especially if the Oilers are on the receiving end, tends to be loaded with postgame material too. This game may not be as much fun to watch but beggars can't be choosers. And then there are games like tonight where a whole lot of nothing happens, these are no fun to watch and even less fun to write about.
In the game's first 20 minutes the two teams combined for 15 shots, nine for Carolina and whopping six coming from the Oilers. The only thing that really even resembled a scoring chance was a Jordan Staal shot through traffic that hit the post on Cam Talbot's blocker side. There wasn't even a penalty called. Nothing happened. At all. I don't know what the worst period of hockey played in the NHL this season was, but this one had to be in the top three.
Before it was even over I was joking that instead of writing a game recap I'd just recap a Grateful Dead show instead. This led to a Twitter conversation about Festival Express (if you haven't seen it you need to rectify this immediately) and the Dead's lone Alberta performance - July 3, 1970 at McMahon Stadium - which only served to make things worse as now I was thinking about alternatives to the hockey game I was supposed to be watching. Random fact: Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia wrote the Grateful Dead song "Might As Well" about that train ride across Canada.
The second period was an improvement over the first because, well, it would have been hard not to be. Still the game remained tied at zero, and the teams again failed to combine for even a shot a minute - another nine for the Hurricanes and eight for the Oilers (don't knock it, that's a 33% improvement over the first period). The Oilers had the first powerplay of the game when Brock McGinn was called for a high stick on Leon Draisaitl. Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall both had a decent scoring chance and I think the Oilers might have had a shift where they recorded two shots. Still it was no screaming hell but like I said, it was an improvement over the first period.
The final 20 minutes of regulation were not much different that the 40 minutes that had come before. Shots and scoring chances were minimal; the Oilers best chance came on a backhand shot from Eberle in the slot. Both teams had one powerplay. The Oilers managed just a single shot with the man advantage, and then when Brad Hunt was sent to the box for hooking with 3:21 remaining everyone cheering for the Oilers got that familiar sinking feeling that this would be when the game's first goal would be scored. That's not what happened though, meaning that this classic wasn't over just yet, it was time for a little three-on-three.
And finally the game had some pace, it's amazing what a little open space can do. After "testing" Cam Ward with 22 shots in the first 60 minutes of the game, the Oilers sent five his way in less than three minutes of overtime, the fifth and final one being a one-handed stab at the puck by Andrej Sekera that beat Ward between the legs. An ugly goal and an absolutely fitting way to end this game.