Shows what I know.
The Edmonton Oilers, playing their second game in as many nights, rolled into San Jose and beat the crap out of the San Jose Sharks to draw level on points – tied for first in the Pacific Division – heading into the All Star break.
Pinch me, I’m dreaming.
While I was busy damning the Oilers as a slightly above-average team as recently as Saturday night, the Oilers were getting all of their Ducks, and apparently their Sharks, in a row on the west coast. Then they killed them. Then they ate them. What a world.
Early on, the Oilers were competent enough. When I say early on, I mean in the one to two minutes following the anthems. Cam Talbot had to be sharp early, and he was. So much so, that all six Oilers defensemen should be thankful that none of them ended up with stitches. The Oilers were doing their best to hang in there on tired legs, however, and cobbled together a chance of their own before the Sharks drew first blood.
A giveaway at the Oilers blue line led to some sweet, silky, A1 steak-saucy passing by the home team and their horsiest looking forward finished off the move. Stop me if you’ve heard this before...
...Is what I was thinking.
Normally, these games would see the Sharks score another in the first before grinding their incompetent opponents into a comfortable home win. But the Edmonton God Damn Oilers had other ideas. Those Oilers said, "Hey idiots. Shut up."
The visitors slowly worked their way back into the game, providing Martin Jones with a few questions to answer as well. Mostly stuff like, "How’s Ryan doing?" And, "Does Ryan still call his own hair flow?"
You know, because people care how Ryan Jones is doing. Once an Oiler...
Anyway. With less than a minute remaining, Connor McDavid found Andrej Sekera in the high slot to fire home and tie the game. That’s actually giving the goal too much credit. Sekera was attempting a high-concept, statue-of-liberty-type dump into the corner, but instead it hit a Sharks’ defender and bounced in. When in Rome, right? Go on...
So after one, the Oilers and Sharks were level at 1-1.
The second period started with more of the same: the Sharks were the aggressors. Oilers’ goalie Cam Talbot was again proving to be a bit of genius by Peter Chiarelli, and he kept making important saves when called upon. The Oilers were bending, but they didn’t break.
A couple of solid penalty kills later, the Oilers – and their 5th ranked road powerplay – found themselves with their own man advantage. Leon Draisaitl turned provider this time and Sekera hammered home his second of the game from the left point. This one, too, went in off of a Sharks defender. Good job, little buddy. I shouldn’t be too hard on the guy – I remember my first hockey game, too.
Another late goal from the Oilers and all of a sudden, things are looking up. What started as another one of ‘those games’ quickly shape-shifted into a possible regulation win over a divisional rival. Holy shit.
The third period introduced Oil Country to another brief period of squeaky bum time, with some heavy pressure from the Sharks leading to an early four-minute powerplay. Adam Larsson forgot the rules for a second – or the ref did – and took a double-minor for highsticking. I say somebody forgot the rules, because both the SN broadcast and Oilers coach Todd McLellan were screaming about follow through high sticks not being a penalty. Wouldn’t be the first time either SN, or the NHL refs, got one wrong.
Either way, the Oilers killed it off. The Sharks created some chances and managed four shots on goal during the extended powerplay, but to no avail. Good.
A few minutes of 5v5 later, the Oilers struck again like a dissatisfied union. Talbot weathered the storm a little bit beforehand, leading to a defensive zone draw. The Sharks won that draw, but Drake Caggiula reacted first and poked the puck out for a partial breakaway. The first year forward made no mistake and gently caressed a wrist shot past an embarrassing Martin Jones. He doesn’t embarrass me, personally. But probably somebody, somewhere, felt that flop sweat you get when you see something that ought to embarrass somebody.
With less than ten minutes remaining, this was basically it. The Oilers’ fearless leader Connor McDavid massaged in an empty net goal to maintain his hilarious league lead in both points and road points. Talbot made some more killer saves in between, but that’s what good goalies do. Cam Talbot is a good goalie. For real. He’s third in the league in W’s.
The Oilers goalie. Is third in the league. In wins.
I’m already trying to figure out ways to style that phrase into an appropriate lower back tattoo. Will keep you posted.
Calgary sucks. Forever and always.
The Oilers are T-1 in the Pacific Division on points, sitting behind these very same stupid Sharks by virtue of them being better at winning games before the shootout. Like that matters.
But honestly, it’s a weird thing to write positive recaps about the Oilers when you’re so very used to the bottom falling out. Right now, it’s not, and I don’t really know what to do with my hands. These two games in California saw Cam Talbot stand on, if not his head, at least his neck, and give the Oilers the goaltending they needed to leave the west coast with 4 massive points.
These results are amazing. I don’t know if I can remember the last time the Oilers have been this high up in the standings, this late in the season. I’ll leave you with what I believe to be the quote(s) of the night. Enjoy it as much as I did.
And I'm not talking about winning it in the regular season.— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) January 27, 2017