The Edmonton Oilers (2-4-0) limped into Chicago (4-2-2) after leaking points to league powerhouses like Ottawa, Vancouver and Carolina. The Oilers were still without Leon Draisaitl and Andrej Sekera, but Chicago played last night in St. Louis. Cam Talbot drew the start and like the club, was looking to rebound after some questionable performances.
The Oilers started the game on the back foot, with Chicago the more assertive team throughout most of the first.
Roughly five minutes in, it looked like it might be a case of here-we-go-again with Patrick Kane banking home from behind Talbot's net. Not even one full shift later, Jonathan Toews was all alone behind Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom but Talbot stood tall.
After that, the Hawks continued to press the issue. The Oilers were finding it difficult to exit their zone with any purpose. Exits appeared to be scarce, and when the puck did get out it was typically off the glass rather than in control. At one point, Kane's line held the Oilers zone for almost a full two minutes. It was outrageous, but Talbot looked solid, in what would quickly become a theme of the game.
Then The Young Pope did what he does. With less than five minutes left, Connor McDavid pulled a worldie and gave Patrick Maroon probably one of the easiest, and certainly one of the prettiest, goals you'll ever see. Seriously, if you haven't seen it. Go see it. It's everything.
The period ended with the two clubs trading half chances but went into their respective rooms tied 1-1.
In the second our heroes found themselves down two men early after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse took penalties for cheating and cheating respectively.
Cam Talbot answered every question during the extended penalty kill and the Oilers get through it.
Unfortunately, not long after that Zack Kassian obliterated Someone Hartman with a pretty disgusting hit. That he didn't get an immediate match penalty is, for me, a surprise. It did not look good from any angle and Kassian's probably fortunate that Someone Hartman didn't lay there or anything.
The remainder of the second period saw the Oilers influence continue to grow, with McDavid and rookie Kailer Yamamoto showing some chemistry together. They showed some physics too but it's harder to see and only shows up in advanced advanced stats. It's not important.
Both goaltenders found themselves having to deal with relatively high quality chances, but neither broke and thus the score remained level after two. The Oilers edged the Hawks on the shot clock but neither side looked overwhelming.
The third period saw the Hawks push back, as you might expect from an experienced team at home - tired or otherwise. An early penalty to Iiro Pakarinen saw the Oilers shorthanded but Talbot and the penalty killers deserved some real credit for bending, but never really breaking tonight.
And after the kill the Oilers again began to push back themselves, with McDavid and Yamamoto again buzzing and probably deserving of some more love at even strength tonight.
The standout of the Oilers third period for me (other than McDavid, who always stands out) was The Littlest Moto, who created a ten-bell opportunity for himself with some great one-on-one work on Duncan Keith, only to ultimately fire wide in the end. It was the most impressive sequence of an otherwise impressive performance for the rookie for sure.
Both teams seemed somewhat content to settle for a point with only a couple of chances really standing out as time ran out in the third period.
But then, overtime.
Honestly, I took no notes because it was fantastic and I couldn't look away. Both teams were eager to win it with Jonathan Toews squandering two beautiful chances from home plate (one wide, one into Talbot's crest) before McDavid found himself free after wiggling past Kane in the Hawks' near corner. Kane had no choice but to take a penalty, and from there the Oilers 4-on-3 unit of McDavid, Klefbom, Nugent-Hopkins and right handed sharpshooter Mark Letestu took over. The puck eventually made its way to Letestu who wired home first-time from the left circle. Oilers win! Oilers win!
Well I mean, they won tonight. Finally. Everyone can breathe. Some of us more easily than others depending on how you feel about Big Macs. The top line looked good but, for the most part, the other lines didn't look bad either which is a good thing. It was nice to see RNH's line get some extended zone time for a change and even Anton Slepyshev got involved with a nice end-to-end rush.
The most critical point of this game is, of course, that Cam Talbot appeared to rekindle some of that form that saw him lead the league in wins last season. Let's hope that continues. If it does, the Oilers could find themselves back above water before we know it.