If only I'd known it was so easy. In the game thread I asked for something resembling a 60 minutes effort. I wasn't greedy, I wasn't asking for the Oilers to put the breaks on a seven game losing streak, all I wanted was a solid effort from the home team from start to finish. And that's exactly what those of us who chose the Oilers game over the Oscars or the final of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts were treated to, as the Oilers defeated the New York Islanders by a score of 3-1.
Yes, the Islanders had played the day before and were likely tired, but that only opened the door for the Oilers, they still had to walk through and take advantage of a weary opponent. Lead once again by Cam Talbot who made 30 plus saves while allowing two goals or less for the third straight game, the Oilers played the kind of game that's been frustratingly absent at times this season, they started strong and then wore down their opponent over the course of the evening. I had my doubts that they'd come away with two points, but two quick goals in the third period was all that the home team needed on this night.
Neither team would find the back of the net in the first period. And Neither team would take a penalty. For the person in change of the scoreboard it was a relaxing 20 minutes of work from one of the best seats in the house. The Oilers would come away with a slight edge in shots, 6 to 5, but a much wider edge in shot attempts, and spent more of the first period in the Islanders end of the rink than their own. That's never a bad thing.
The highlight of the first period was a rush by Connor McDavid. Obviously it didn't end with a goal, in fact it didn't even end with a particularly good scoring chance, but it was an opportunity to see just how good he can be at full speed. As McDavid control of the puck in the Oilers end of the rink you knew what was coming and instantly puts you on the edge of your seat. On too many nights this season McDavid has been, far and away, the best part of the game for Oilers fans. That wasn't the case tonight but that doesn't mean he wasn't fun to watch.
The second period was more entertaining than the first but it wasn't until late in the period that Either team scored a goal. On the pay Nick Leddy nearly killed Adam Clendening with a shot from the point, Casey Cizikas was there to knock home the loose puck with Clendening laying face down on the ice. The good news for Oilers fans was that Clendening would return for the third period. The bad news, that after two well played periods they found themselves trailing by a goal. For a team that's had a lot of trouble scoring lately - 11 goals in their previous seven games - that's not an ideal place to be.
The second period also had a nice sequence from Brandon Davidson where he used his stick to disrupt the attacking Islander and then rode him into the corner. No big hit just a controlled, very well executed, and effective play from the Oilers defender, and the kind of play we're seeing from him more and more often as the season progresses. Davidson has been a wonderful surprise for the Oilers this season, and I suspect that he's been everything that management hoped Griffin Reinhart would be.
In the third period we had an Anton Lander sighting. No really, Anton Lander. After going four years without a goal (that may be an exaggeration) Lander finally got his name on the score sheet with his first of the season, tying the game at a goal apiece with slightly less than half a period left to play. The Lander buzz would be short lived though as Leon Draisaitl would score the Oilers' second goal of the night less than a minute later. I'm still not sure how exactly Jaroslav Halak let the puck get loose and onto Draisaitl's stick, but I don't care because the Oilers had the lead and that's rare enough that it's not worth thinking about too much.
Now a goal up the Oilers decided to sit back and hold on for the remaining eight minutes and 53 seconds. In that time the Islanders would send 21 shots Talbot's way but the Oilers netminder didn't let a single one get past him. In those same nearly nine minutes of play the Oilers attempted two shots - TWO. Sometimes good things happen though and one of those two shot attempts went in; a slapshot off the stick of Davidson that Halak got a piece of but not all. That goal, scored with 3:03 left to play, was the insurance marker that all but brought this game to an end.