People sometimes say that the thing about golf, that makes it so appealing, is that no matter how good you are, you can hit that one fantastic shot per round, that keeps you coming back.
Games like tonight's against the Sabres, are hockey fandom's equivalent to that.
As an Oilers fan, the fantastic shot is Connor McDavid.
I could probably end the article there, and whoever reads this would think that I'm really poetic and cool. Or possibly just melodramatic and unstable. But this is supposed to be a game recap, so I'll provide a rundown for those who missed it.
The Aforementioned McDavid opened the scoring just 22 seconds into the game. This game was almost exclusively billed as the first showdown between the top two picks of last summer's draft. Nothing else was really noteworthy in a meeting of two bottom-feeding teams, so the media naturally gravitated towards the McDavid-Eichel showdown angle.
The early McDavid goal assured all fans that this theme would remain present throughout the night.
The rest of the first period didn't contain any goals. But it was a generally up-tempo period, which ended with a dominant possession shift by the newly formed McDavid-Eberle-Yakupov line.
The second period featured more up-tempo hockey, but no goals. It appeared as though Andrej Sekera had put the Oilers up 2-0, with a goal that crossed the line with 0.3 seconds remaining in the second frame. However, Dan Bylsma challenged the call, and it was determined that Anton Lander was offside while making a line change in the dying seconds, so the goal call was overturned.
The third period didn't have quite the pace of the previous two. Each team managed eight shots on goal, after exceeding ten in each of the first two periods. Cal O'Reilly scored his first of the year midway through the frame, on a goal assisted by former Oil King Mark Pysyk and former number two overall pick Sam Reinhart, brother of Oiler/Condor Griffin Reinhart.
The game was tied at one through 60 minutes, so it would be decided by three on three overtime. The Oilers dominated the extra frame, due in large part to a penalty, which Buffalo actually managed to kill. Just prior to the penalty call, Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner made the save of the night, on a fantastic opportunity by Jordan Eberle. The Oilers then held the puck in the Sabres' zone for nearly the entirety of the man-advantage. But they never manged to capitalize on an opportunity.
After the successful penalty kill, the Sabres gained possession off a draw, and Eichel went down the ice and attempted a spin move to his backhand, hoping to score on what would have been his sixth shot of a busy night. However, Eichel's shot-attempt missed. Fittingly, the loose puck was retrieved in the corner by McDavid, who skated the length of the ice, blowing by all Sabres defenders, before sneaking a backhand shot through Lehner's five-hole.
For Oilers fans, it was the perfect ending to an exciting night.
It was a solid team effort, with McDavid supplying the heroics. The addition of Yakupov to the Eberle-McDavid line proved fruitful in the fancy stats department. Also, Letestu and Korpikoski had a rare gold-star Corsi performance. On the back end, the Nurse-Clendening pairing fared quite well. Clendening played over 20 minutes, and he deserved it. New Oiler Adam Pardy also saw his fair share of ice time. He too played just over 20 minutes. Pardy had some impressive on-ice shot-based statistics, albeit in a somewhat limited role in Winnipeg. He was slightly below 50% possession on the night, but he also saved a sure goal by sweeping it out of the crease in the first, and he displayed good positioning, physicality and an ability to quickly make simple plays with the puck. The combination of Pardy and Davidson looks like it could make a very reliable defensive pairing for the rest of the season. It's probably too early to say that, but the potential is certainly there.
Corey's Game Puck
Obviously Connor McDavid.