Just wasn’t meant to be.
The Edmonton Oilers were able to comeback from an early 2-0 deficit to force things to overtime, but Colin Miller would deposit the game-winner in a 3-2 Buffalo victory. It was night that saw both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the scoresheet, but allowed some other players on the team their time to shine.
It wasn't a bad effort by the Oilers, rather it was one of missed opportunities. There were multiple times in the game where they passed up opportunities to shoot only for the play to fall apart. The point gained by reaching overtime was enough to keep up with the Arizona Coyotes (who beat Chicago tonight). Both teams are tied for the top spot in the Pacific Division with 40pts.
It was a weird game, so lets take a look at how we got here:
This one looked to be starting off in Edmonton’s favour after the drop of the puck. The first line, newly reunited with Zack Kassian returning, went to work right away with a couple of great chances in the first minute. The best of the chances came off the stick of Leon Draisaitl as he nearly tucked home a wraparound chance. The momentum would eventually swing in Buffalo’s favour as their first line came back with a good shift of their own.
Kyle Okposo would get the game’s first goal less than 5 minutes into the period with a deflection off a point shot from Marco Scandella that slid past the pad of Smith. It was only the Sabres’ second shot of the game and not the type of goal that Mike Smith wanted to give up.
From here the Oilers would get their first power play of the game with a chance to tie things back up. Despite going 2/2 in Thursday night’s game against Los Angelas, the Oilers struggled to get anything going on this one. Connor McDavid had the lone scoring chance with a fantastic solo rush that Linus Ullmark was able to deny.
The Sabres would then get their turn on the power-play shortly after killing off a penalty of their own, but also failed to generate much. Shortly after Connor McDavid would lead an odd-man rush up the ice, pass it across to Kassian who would try to connect with Draisaitl but the pass would bounce off of his stick. The play would go back the other way where Mike Smith would give up an atrocious rebound to allow Johan Larsson to extend the Sabres lead to 2. Blame on this one goes to Kassian making a poor decision to pass the puck instead of shooting and to Mike Smith for just not being great.
Riley Sheahan would strike iron on a shorthanded rush later in the period but nothing else was generated. At the end of the first it was the visiting Sabres with a 2-0 lead.
The first 10 minutes of the second period did a great job at putting me to sleep. Both teams were going back and forth but not in the exciting way. The Oilers would get another chance on the power-play with a chance to get on the board...only for them to be completely outworked by the 30th ranked Sabres penalty-kill.
At this point it seemed very unlikely that the Oilers were getting back into this one. The team seem depleted and the chances weren’t coming. That all changed after Darnell Nurse was able to corral a puck near Edmonton’s blue line and fire a perfect pass to the Riley Sheahan to spring him on a breakaway. Sheahan would make a move to the backhand and finesse the puck through Ullmark’s five-hole to get Edmonton on the board.
This injected life into the Oilers as they started to take control of the game. Connor McDavid would have a great chance on the ensuing shift but be denied. Eventually the pressure by Edmonton would result in another power-play, this time with a chance to tie things up.
Once again it would be a disappointing showing, but not all was lost. As the power-play expired (and I mean a literal second after it expired) Darnell Nurse let loose a howitzer from the point that Joakim Nygard was able to tip into the net. All of a sudden it was a 2-2 game.
The Sabres would get another chance on their power-play late in the period but Edmonton would stand tall. At the end of 40 we had a brand-new game tied at 2-2.
The Third period saw the Oilers come out flying once again. Connor McDavid turned on the jets early on to get 2 great chances, one caught the post while the other was denied by Ullmark.
The Sabres would then get their best opportunity of the period in the form of a Jimmy Vesey breakaway, which he whiffed on. A huge break for the Oilers. The Sabres would keep pouring on the pressure but some good work by Edmonton’s depth forwards would keep them off the board.
Draisaitl would have Edmonton’s best chance of the period with a beautiful back-hand shot that beat Ullmark but not the post. The teams would trade chances for some time but nothing would beat the goaltenders, forcing this one to go to OT.
The overtime period wouldn’t last very long as the Sabres were able to retain control for most of the period. An errant pass from Draisaitl to McDavid would allow the Sabres another possession where it found Johansson on the goal line beside Mike Smith. He would feather a pass across the crease that landed on the stick of Colin Miller, who would fire home the game-winning goal. Smith got a large piece of the puck but it wasn’t enough to keep it out.
Final score: 3-2 Buffalo.
- The top line of Edmonton looked....off tonight. They were missing passes they would usually make and they seemed unsure of themselves for the majority of the night. Not the best of nights for them.
- On the flip side the Oilers did get some good performances from their depth forwards. Riley Sheahan finally got his first of the year, which injected life back into the team and Joakim Nygard tied the game up with a nifty tip. No matter the result, you like to see guys not named McDavid or Draisaitl get on the board.
- Mike Smith had a ROUGH first period tonight that sucked the life out of the team early. He didn't play bad in the final 40 and did all he could do on the game-winner so I won’t fault him there. However, I think it is time to hand the starters job to Mikko Koskinen.
- Edmonton’s best defence man tonight was Darnell Nurse. He made a fantastic pass to Sheahan to spring him on the breakaway, shot the puck that Nygard tipped in, and made a few great defensive plays throughout the game.
- Edmonton’s power-play had a REALLY off night. They looked disorganized and sloppy on each of their chances tonight against a very bad Sabres PK. I’ll give credit to Buffalo’s penalty-killers tonight....they made us look like a 30th ranked power-play.
- The loss stings and it certainly isn’t the result we wanted...but I like looking at the bright side. We are still (technically) in first place in the division albeit tied with the Coyotes. From now on Edmonton has to mean business. They’ll get the chance to pull away with the lead this Tuesday against, 2006 SCF rival, Carolina Hurricanes.