I was expecting two things prior to tonight's 2-1 loss to the Ducks:
1. The Oilers would probably lose.
2. The Oilers would get outplayed in the process.
Only the first of these things happened. That's not to say that the Oilers got robbed, necessarily. It's just that in my estimation, the game could've went either way.
Alas, it did not go the Oilers' way. Instead it went the Ducks' way. Stuff like this happens all the time in hockey, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was impressed with the Oilers' effort tonight against one of the best teams in the league.
This team still has major flaws, but if efforts like tonight's could become more of a regular thing next season, maybe it won't be long before this team isn't terrible. That jumbled bunch of double-negatives is as close as I'm willing to get to optimism in late March of the team's tenth straight season of futility.
The first period was mostly an evenly played 20 minutes of hockey. Former 50 goal scorer Corey Perry scored the period's only goal, on a perfectly placed slap shot while streaking down the wing.
The second period wasn't too different from the first. The teams traded chances in a fairly even frame, but the Ducks were the only ones who could capitalize. Deadline pickup Brandon Pirri scored the Ducks' second goal of the game, following an Adam Clendening turnover.
Much like the first two periods, I wouldn't say that either team dominated the third. But I would give the Oilers the edge in chances, especially in the last ten minutes of play. Nail Yakupov got the Oilers' lone goal, burying a Taylor Hall pass which came off of a scramble draw.
The Oilers' best chance to tie the game came on the very next shift. The Eberle-McDavid-Maroon line had multiple quality chances on a shift where the trio dominated the Ducks for nearly a minute. Eberle had nearly the entire goal to shoot at, but seemed to have trouble settling the puck down, before shooting it at the side of the net. The opportunity would have been considered a great chance for any NHLer, but to have perhaps the Oilers' most sure-handed sharpshooter miss the net was particularly surprising.
A last ditch effort by the Oilers was thwarted when the officials called an offside, when Connor McDavid clearly kept the puck onside with his skates. It was an indisputably terrible call, but we'll never know whether or not a high-quality chance would have happened if the play had been extended.
The Oilers didn't get dominated by a top-notch team. They led in the shot-attempt department, even after accounting for score-effects.
The Sekera-Fayne pairing was particularly strong possession wise. Each were on for more than 20 shot-attempts for, compared to fewer than ten against, at even-strength. Fayne was +21/-9, while Sekera was +28/-7.
Corey's Game Puck
In a strong possession performance, where the forwards couldn't bury enough pucks, it naturally makes sense to award my imaginary game puck to a defenseman. The Oilers' top blueliner tonight was Andrej Sekera. Having a +21 Corsi differential against a team like the Ducks is nothing short of phenomenal, especially while playing tough minutes, as Sekera often does. He's definitely deserving of the game puck for tonight's performance.