The new guys are legit...but the final result was not.
The Edmonton Oilers dropped an close-knit affair in Anaheim on Tuesday night, falling 4-3 to the Ducks. Much of the focus on this game fell on new additions on both sides. Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou both picked up a goal and assist in their Oilers debut, while Sonny Milano would pick up 2 goals in his Ducks debut.
There was some encouraging signs in this one, despite the score, so lets get into it...
The first 20 minutes in Oiler uniform for the new guys didn’t go quite as good as planned. The team looked flat and uninterested as a Ducks team with nothing to lose amassed most of the chances in the first.
Sonny Milano would get the Ducks on the board about 6 minutes in. Some abysmal defence by Darnell Nurse allowed Milano to walk into the slot and one-hand poke it over the blocker of Mike Smith. 1-0 Ducks.
Not too long afterwards it was Nicolas Deslauriers who increased Anaheims lead after depositing a cross-ice feed from Jacob Larsson. 2-0 Ducks and it wasn’t looking pretty early on.
Tyler Ennis had a few good looks and the Oilers had a few chances on their lone power-play but nothing was going in for Edmonton. At the end of the 1st the Ducks led 2-0 and held the Oilers to only six shots.
The middle frame went a lot better than the first period. Some life was injected into the lineup and they started to look like the Oilers we expected. The first real chance came off the stick of Connor McDavid. After receiving a fantastic pass by Mike Green, McDavid went on a breakaway where he was, once again, hooked down and there was, once again, no call on the play. The officiating as it relates to McDavid continues to be atrocious.
Edmonton would eventually get themselves on the board and it was generated by a few of the new guys. McDavid would break into the offensive zone, send a cross ice pass to Andreas Athanasiou who would find Tyler Ennis in the slot and the Edmonton native would tip it home. A very nice looking goal to cut the lead to 2-1.
Anaheim would respond with a great chance of their own shortly after with a 2-on-0 that resulted in a missed shot. Edmonton can thank Lady Luck on that one as it seemed like a sure bet that Anaheim would restore their two goal lead.
Edmonton would kill off a penalty and the period would end with the Oilers on the power-play. The score saw the Ducks leading 2-1 heading into the 3rd.
Edmonton was unable to convert on the power-play at the beginning of the period but soon got yet another opportunity a mere two minutes in. New Duck, Danton Heinen would go to the box after highsticking Riley Sheahan, giving Edmonton their third powerplay of the game.
On the man-advantage Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would find Draisaitl in his wheelhouse and he wouldn’t miss from here. We had a 2-2 game. The Ducks would respond 11 minutes later as a defensive gaffe by Darnell Nurse would gift Adam Henrique a partial break in which he would beat Smith. 3-2 Ducks.
At this point it seemed like the Oilers might have lost control of the game but that was not the case. Ennis would streak down the left-side boards and get a shot onto Gibson that would squeak onto the goal line. Athanasiou was johnny on the spot and would put the goal away to tie things up once again.
60 minutes wouldn’t solve anything, so we were going to overtime.
The Oilers would get the first good chance in extra time. Ethan Bear would find Leon Draisaitl all alone in the front of the Anaheim net but Gibson would be able to shut the door.
Things would come crashing down soon after as McDavid would head to the box on a tripping call, giving Anaheim a rare 4-on-3 powerplay. On this powerplay a in close play would eventually result in Milano getting his 2nd of the game.
The Ducks would hand Edmonton the OT loss by a score of 4-3.
- That first line of Athanasiou-McDavid-Ennis looked very good tonight. Ennis in particular impressed me with his speed and hands. This is a first line that I can get used to. Very good first impressions.
- Mike Green...he was ok out there. I didn’t notice him much and, for a defender, that could be seen as a good thing. He did have a very nice outlet pass to McDavid that nearly lead to a goal.
- Ethan Bear was the best defenceman for the Oilers tonight. He was phenomenal on the powerplay and played a critical role in Draisaitl’s game-tying goal. I say it a lot but I’ll say it again: Ethan Bear is a heckuva smart hockey player.
- We go from some good performances to some bad. Darnell Nurse was not very good tonight. He made two egregious defensive errors that lead to two goals against. He was also not involved much at all tonight. Oilers dodged a bullet by not signing him to a long-term deal.
- Mike Smith was meh. Not great but not terrible. Just meh. I suspect Koskinen gets the call in Vegas (it is a back-to-back after all)
- McDavid once again got hooked down on a breakaway in the first period that didn’t get called. I really don’t understand the vendetta that officials have against McDavid. A penalty is a penalty no matter who it is. Ridiculous.
- Oilers need to tighten up their play in the defensive zone if they want to make a serious run at the division crown. Word is Oscar Klefbom will be rejoining the team early next week so that will help.
- A win wasn't in the cards tonight but the team still finds themselves in tied for second place in the division with the Vancouver Canucks (74pts apiece). The Calgary Flames are close behind them with 72pts of their own. Edmonton’s card luck might be a bit better tomorrow as they head to Sin City to take on the Vegas Golden Knights! Lets Go Oilers!