Every time Patrick Maroon scores, it's Christmas morning all over again. It's a look of sheer delight, mingled with a dash of genuine surprise, a vision of buoyant joy that never fails to elevate the mood of all those witnessing the salubrious experience. Maroon's smile has lit up screens a career-high fourteen times this season, as his hat trick tonight lifted the visiting Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins.
It's hard to understate the importance of the timeliness of
Patrick Hattrick Maroon's game-winning goal, his third of the game, at 9:02 in the third. It gave the Oilers important breathing room in a key close game, increasing their hard-fought lead to 4-2 and allowing them to hold off the late Bruins comeback, while the ensuing win created distance in the tightening playoff race, with the Flames and Kings breathing down the Oilers' necks. Though still sitting in third in the Pacific Division, the Oilers' victory tonight puts them three points ahead of the Flames, five points ahead of the Kings, and just one point behind both the Sharks and Ducks for first place in the division.
An overall very strong final period, despite some penalty trouble at the end, gave the Oilers the edge in a close game during which they were actually outshot on the whole 36-25, lost the Corsi battle badly at 75-32, and had only five high danger shot attempts to the Bruins' 17, but a dominant performance from the newly-assembled top line of Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl and a 33-save performance by Cam Talbot made the difference tonight.
The scoring opened with a great breakout by the top line, when McDavid's excellent zone entry allowed him to get a pass across to Patrick Maroon, driving the net, who put the Oilers up just 1:08 into the first period with his 12th goal of the year. Connor McDavid picked up his league-leading 30th assist of the year on that opening goal. Just two minutes later his goal, Maroon found a burst of irrational bravery and took on Zdeno Chara in a fight, which is literally what my nightmares are made of.
The Bruins responded at 7:16 into the first when Colin Miller's point shot trickled just past the goal line to even the score at 1-1.
Also worth mentioning is new third-liner Jordan Eberle, who's taken a newfound liking to goonery to match his role, who almost got into a fight at the end of the period with Lee after he hit Kris Russell hard. This is a legitimate item on my bucket list and would have been amazing to witness if it had come to fruition.
In the second period, the teams once again traded goals as Patrice Bergeron raised his dismal shooting percentage with his eight of the season at 10:43 into the second to give the Bruins the lead at 2-1. Patty Maroon responded shortly with his second goal of the game and thirteenth of the year, surpassing his career high, to even the score at 2-2. Alertly grabbing the rebound from the Eric Gryba shot from the blueline, Maroon muscled the puck into the net at 13:09 for the critical evener.
Just 14 seconds into the third period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead with his eight goal of the season, chipping in the rebound from the shot off of Matt Benning's stick, who got an assist against the team that drafted him. The Oilers came out with great jump in the third period, holding the Bruins shotless in the first five minute of the period while reclaiming the lead. It's what many would characterize as a greasy goal, but as the tipping point of the game, Nugent-Hopkins' willingness to go to the front of the net would prove pivotal in changing the complexion of this game.
Patrick Maroon's goal at 9:02 added some critical insurance to the lead, smile a little wider and shock a little more visible than his typical goal celebration, and despite a coach's challenge claiming offside from Boston, because Zack Kassian was not involved in the play, the call on the ice stood.
Penalty trouble, with a tripping call on Eric Gryba followed by another tripping call on Benoit Pouliot, who's really found his spiritual calling in the penalty box, gave the Bruins an extended 5-on-3 power play late in the game, during which David Krejci scored at with 2:56 remaining in the game to make it uncomfortably close at 4-3, but the team killed the second penalty and Cam Talbot held on strong with two key saves in the final minute to give the Oilers their twentieth victory of the season.
Somewhere out there, Patrick Maroon is still grinning.
- If it wasn't clear before, Patrick Maroon is having himself a breakout season at the tender age of 28-- with his 12th, 13th, and 14th goals tonight, he's soundly surpassed his career-high in goals of 11 (in the 2013-14 season) just halfway through this season and is now tied with McDavid and Draisaitl for the team lead in goals. After putting up 13 points in 56 games with Anaheim, the team's resident teddy bear went on a tear as soon as he joined the Oilers and tallied 14 points in 16 games at the end of last season, eight of those points goals. He's by far the left winger who enjoys the most success when playing with McDavid (McDavid's CF% is 5.5% higher playing with Maroon than without), and one can only presume that baesd on tonight, Lucic will have to play on a line without his idol for a few more games. Finished tonight with a team-high five shots on goal, three goals, and a fight with Zdeno Chara-- I don't think Connor can even manage that combination.
- Connor McDavid seems to be getting his mojo back, finishing with two assists and finally clicking with his linemates.
- Matt Benning had himself another strong game. Two great plays with his stick to break up some scoring chances near the end of the first period, and finished with one assist, three shots on goal, three hits, one block, and no giveaways. Clearly the Davidson of this season, and it's amazing what his emergence has done for the Oilers' depth on the blueline-- suddenly, there appears to be somewhat of a logjam of capable young defenders, which would have sounded absurd as early as last season.
- Cam Talbot, coming off an impressive performance in Columbus during which he was hung out to dry like fresh laundry, bailed his team out once again on a night when Boston had an astounding 75 shot attempts, 17 of those high danger. Having a legitimate number-one goalie, now tied for second in the league for wins with 19, is a big reason why the Oilers are in a playoff spot, especially with no legitimate backup goalie.
- Jesse Puljujarvi played just 3:27 tonight-- why is he still in the lineup?
- I really want to like Benoit Pouliot but his inexplicable attachment to the penalty box must end NOW.
- The Oilers continue to get owned in the faceoff circle, with none of the forwards finishing with a FO% above 50% tonight (41% on the night). McDavid at 14% and Draisaitl at 33% are particularly troubling.
- Such a lopsided Corsi battle has scarcely been witnessed this season-- 75-32 is frightening. None of the Oilers had a CF% above 50%. This is a night when you prefer not to look at the analytics.
Game in a Haiku
Hattrick Maroon is
a giant teddy bear who
scores, scores, and then scores.