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Recap: Oilers 1 vs Stars 0 (OT)

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NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Edmonton Oilers Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Before this game, Ken Hitchcock did his media availability and talked about Edmonton. He made jokes about all the roads having the name “Detour”, and said that he got pulled over going the wrong way down the street at Five in the morning. What he was trying to get at was that he’s more comfortable in the arena and behind the bench than he is anywhere else; But because I too am from Sherwood Park like him, I completely understand. It’s a giant pain in the ass to get downtown from here, and there is a reason I avoid going to Edmonton — especially downtown — at all costs. Hitch, I get it. Trust me.

1st Period:

The first chance of the game comes early as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins takes the pass out front from Drake Caggiula. He gets a few whacks at it, Anton Khudobin stands tall.

For the next few minutes the Oilers do a really good job keeping the pressure on the Stars. Good cycling around the ice, every players was involved, but the scoring chances were limited. There were a few cross-feed passes, but no one was able to finish. Still nice to see.

Eight minutes into the period, the Oilers are doing a great job. The Milan Lucic, Zack Kassian, and Kyle Brodziak line are playing a great game of keep-away. So good in fact, that I didn’t even notice Brodziak go for a change before Nugent-Hopkins tipped a shot off the post, then a few seconds later, shot the puck six inches left of a wide-open net.

Immediately after that, Alex Chiasson gets called for interference. To the Penalty Kill we go.

Luckily, the Penalty Kill was extremely aggressive, and did not line up in an L-Formation. The Oilers held the Stars to one shot, no real chances, and the penalty is over.

With nine minutes left, Connor McDavid started doing what he does. He didn’t score but he took it through the slot and in front of the net, twice, without being able to convert. Anton Khudobin is doing a really good job keeping the Stars in here.

Right near the end of the period, the linesmen decide that it’s their turn to play keep away and turn the simple act of dropping the puck into a complete carnival. They’re waiving guys out, calling false starts, taking a fortnight to get the last two minutes going. It’s a joke.

After about a century or two, they do manage to get the puck to land in the faceoff dot, the Oilers top line gets a good chance, but can’t finish anything.

Period ends 0-0.

2nd Period:

The first three minutes of this period starts off in a similar manner to the last. The Oilers controlled most of the play, despite being reasonably uneventful.

Just as it looked like some things were about to get going, Jujhar Khaira hooks Roope Hintz, and the Oilers are going back to the PK.

It’s another very good penalty kill. Now, as Sunil showed us earlier the week, this is what to expect with a Ken Hitchcock coached team. It’s difficult for the other team to get in the zone, and if they do, they’ll have to work very quickly to get set up. They couldn’t and the Oilers again held them to just one shot.

Shortly thereafter, Mikko Koskinen shows that Khudobin isn’t the only goaltender is this game and makes some spectacular saves on Mattias Janmark.

Just before the halfway mark, Radek Faksa trips up RNH, and the Oilers are getting their first chance on the man advantage.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look great, and it ends up being Mikko Koskinen who has to make a save or rookie Miro Heiskanen. After that mess though, Leon Draisaitl makes a slot pass for a Connor McDavid redirect, and again, Anton Khudobin makes the tough save. Powerplay over.

With a minute left, Connor McDavid gets tripped up and the Oilers will start the 3rd period on the Powerplay.

Still tied, 0-0, after two.

3rd Period:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hits his 700th post of the season on the powerplay. The Oilers don’t score.

Dallas controlled most of the play throughout this period. At the ten minute mark, it’s pretty even flowing, other than the few times the Oilers got pinned in their own end.

This period is one that wasn’t easy to take note of. Make no mistake, it was good hockey and fun to watch, but it was lacking notable scoring chances.

The fans appreciate the worth ethic their seeing. This is a blue-collar town, and this is all they can expect on a game-by-game basis, they’re cheering on the Oilers and sound to be having a great time.

Now, with seconds left in the third, the Oilers almost completely blow it. Alexander Radulov brought the puck into the Oilers zone, gets it out in front and Koskinen struggles with the play but does manage to hold on at the literal last second. This is the moment in the game that would be keeping you up all night had they scored. Luckily, we have a really good Goalie.

0-0 after regulation.

Overtime:

To start the sudden-death, the striped fellows know the end is near, and decide to go with some more faceoff shenanigans. DROP THE PUCK!

Draisaitl chops a pass over to McDavid and he goes in alone and... maybe scored? You tell me.

This is one of those calls where whatever the call on the ice is, is going to stand. The rule says that it has to be all the way across the goal line, or definitively not, but it requires a bit more. The angles on the camera aren’t that great, but even if they were, there’s only so much the naked eye can see. Pull a hair out of your head, that’s about 0.003” thick. You can’t see that relative to a puck and a painted on line, even if it might officially be in, and we can’t exactly get some feeler gauges in there to make sure. These calls will go both ways throughout the year, but it’s frustrating to have it go against us in overtime.

That’s ok, Leon Draisaitl and Oscar Klefbom finish it off a minute later.

OVERTIME WINNER!!

Notes:

  • Very good game. A true effort from either side, and it sure is fun to win. Hitchcock’s first on home ice.
  • Mikko Koskinen is good. Really good. We can argue over whether or not he should have got that contract of his with the NMC at the time, but he’s more than held up his end of that. He’s the better goaltender on the Oilers right now, and I hope to see him again next game.
  • Milan Lucic. On one hand, he and that line have a great forecheck and do a good job keeping the puck in. On the other, he was caught out there pinned in his own end and doing nothing about it a few times. I can handle him not scoring, I can’t tolerate wading through the defensive zone.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi was outstanding tonight. I’d like to see some scoring out of him sooner or later, but this is the kind of game Ken Hitchcock is going to want to see out of the young man. He was really hard on the puck, hitting guys when he didn’t have the puck, had a shot and a few setups in just under 15 minutes of ice time. 5th most 5v5 ice time among forwards. I’d say he earned it. And just because I can, I am going to use what I saw tonight to support a previous suspicion — that he listens and understands what coaches want extremely well, and that his previous coach was an idiot.
  • Sportsnet needs to deliver a better experience on their broadcasts. Luckily today they got their once-per-game technical issue out of the way by not having sound before the game starts, but it’s more than just that. Any time a penalty is called, they cut to commercial before telling you which team took it, or what it’s for. I understand that they have to give James H Brown it’s ad space, but it seems like a bad idea for Rogers that Personal Injury Attorneys Ads are what I’m yelling at. If I throw my voice out which yelling at Sportsnet when this ad comes on, who do they think is going to be on the receiving end of that?
  • Other than Overtime, there weren’t any of those McDavid with Speed!! moments. We really need those, because there is almost nothing more exciting than when he gets the puck at his own blueline and you know damn well there’s going to be a scoring chance.
  • You can’t tell by the score, and meatheads are going to use it to keep pumping this idea the Ken Hitchcock doesn’t help offense, but relative to Todd’s team, there were a lot of scoring chances in this game. The goalies were just on fire. And to anyone out there who does think Hitch hinders offense, what the hell do you think McLellan was doing?
  • Oscar Klefbom had a pretty week game. He was among those to get pinned a few times in his own end, but no one is going to care because he played a ton, scored the OT goal and had a fantastic post-game interview.
  • Winning is a lot more fun than losing. Let’s keep this up.
  • There was a moment where Benning was beat cleanly in the 3rd, I was hoping to find a gif of it, but I can’t. It was a great example of why the zone-defense works so much better than the man-to-man. The Dallas player wasn’t able to get to the slot despite beating Benning. I’ll try and find some footage of this stuff for later.

Hitchcock’s Postgame: