The Edmonton Oilers (34-23-8) were on the road in Nashville (32-24-8) on Monday night for the first of a three-game road trip through the Central division, and the first of two in two nights with Dallas on the horizon tomorrow.
A bright start for the visitors, as they were able to control the pace for most of the first half of the period. Pekka Rinne was called into action early as the line of Connor McDavid, Tyler Ennis and Josh Archibald went to work early.
And they were rewarded. Less than 7 minutes into the opening frame, the puck fell to McDavid below the goal line. He and Ennis played catch briefly behind the net before the latter came around to Rinne’s left and found Archibald at the top of the paint. He made no mistake and one-timed home to give the Oilers an early lead. 1-0.
The Oilers continued to play well immediately following the goal but around the halfway point of the period, Nashville began to find their feet.
Two penalties to Tyler Ennis and Ethan Bear only compounded Edmonton’s problems, but a few key stops by Mike Smith saw the Oilers through them without any damage. Some nervy 5v5 time between the two infractions to be sure, but there was no blood and it wouldn’t take the Oilers long to repay their penalty killers.
Dave Tippett threw Connor McDavid out with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto after Nugent-Hopkins featured at 4v5 on the second PK. After an extended shift, McDavid found himself with the puck inside the left point. He sent a pass to Draisaitl at an impossible angle but it didn’t matter. Draisaitl hammered it between Rinne and the post with his first touch and the Oilers went ahead 2-0.
No more goals in the remaining 29 seconds, and the Oilers took that 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Uh oh. The second period began with Nashville calling — and taking — all of the shots. It took them less than 3 minutes to get themselves back into the game. The puck was deep in Edmonton’s zone and Matt Benning couldn’t make a positive play. He turned it over in the corner and Kyle Turris took advantage. Kris Russell tried to deny the pass at the near post so Turris went around the net and found Roman Josi to rifle home from the left dot. Smith might’ve liked that one back. 2-1.
14 seconds later, Nashville tied it. Again the puck went behind the Oilers net, this time falling to Andreas Athanasiou in the corner. Ethan Bear abandoned Calle Jarnkrok in front to provide Athanasiou with an outlet, but he had other ideas and turned up the wall into trouble. He turned it over immediately and the now all-alone Jarnkrok had acres of space to beat Smith from. 2-2.
Edmonton didn’t bend further, however, and began to mount their pushback. The Oilers kept Nashville on their heels for the next ten minutes or so, and were eventually rewarded for their impetus.
The puck found its way to Draisaitl along the half wall in Nashville’s zone. He slipped another lovely area pass in to RNH, who spun and fired toward goal. The shot was deflected but fell right to Kailer Yamamoto, who made no mistake from in tight and tucked it past Rinne to put the Oilers back in front. 3-2.
But Nashville wasn’t done, either. This time, Rocco Grimaldi found Craig Smith in the slot for a one-timer. Mike Smith fought it off, but couldn’t do much with the rebound, and Nick Bonino was right there to clean it up and tie the game again. 3-3.
The remaining five minutes were pretty low event (aside from Connor McDavid’s collision with Jarred Tinordi), and neither side was able to find an equalizer. After 40 minutes, the two teams were tied at 3-3.
McDavid was out to start the third period against Ryan Johansen, which was the most important thing after his freak collision near the end of the second. Good. Breathe.
And it wouldn’t be long before The Captain showed why his return was so important. Less than 5 minutes into the period, McDavid had possession in the Predators zone to Rinne’s left. He circled his wagons toward the top of the zone, pulled the Predators’ D in front of Rinne, and fired a seeing-eye wrist shot beyond him to restore Edmonton’s lead. 4-3.
And then the floodgates opened.
Less than a minute later, Nugent-Hopkins collected the puck just inside the Predators zone and fed Yamamoto with a slick pass down low. Yamamoto made an all-world play from in tight to drop for Draisaitl to slam home. 5-3.
Not 2 minutes after that, Zack Kassian got in on the action at the end of a nice counter led by Tyler Ennis. He found Darnell Nurse to his right, and Nurse threw it across the crease. McDavid gathered in the corner and found Kassian trailing in the slot. His shot snuck through Rinne to put the Oilers up by 3. 6-3.
Less than 90 seconds later (seriously), Draisaitl scored again. His third hat trick (1 playoff, now 2 regular season) came from an innocuous entry pass from RNH. Draisaitl gathered on his backhand and, in one motion, released from the forehand with a sneaky shot that beat Rinne through the wickets. 7-3.
To make matters worse for the hosts, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm got the gate for holding Jujhar Khaira shortly after Edmonton’s 7th goal. Tippett threw the 1PP over the boards because he is a cold motherfucker and a four goal lead isn’t enough.
And they rewarded their ruthless coach 10 seconds into the PP. McDavid got the puck in the corner to Rinne’s left. He found Draisaitl who — again — gathered on the backhand and, in one motion, released from the forehand with a sneaky shot that beat Rinne clean. 8-3. Natural hat trick in the third period. Huge. Nuts.
The rest of the game played out as you might expect. Nashville was deflated and the Oilers were firmly in ‘looking to get through the remainder without injury’ territory. It was over a few goals ago, and the back half of the third period was an exercise in going through the motions for both teams.
What an emphatic third period. Two massive points in regulation and two even more massive nuts powering both McDavid and Draisaitl to five points a piece. On a Monday night. On the road. In Nashville.
What a time to be alive!
They scored 8 goals. Let’s just enjoy that.
Although we will, absolutely, have to talk about that Brett Kissel ad that ran from the first intermission until the last five minutes of the second period at some point.
What in the actual fuck was that?!
All numbers 5v5 and courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
CF: 52 - 57 — 47.71%
FF: 41 - 40 — 50.62%
SCF: 23 - 27 — 46.00%
HDCF: 14 - 8 — 63.64%
xGF: 2.2 - 2.26 — 49.26%
Shots: 33 - 28 — 54.10%
Golazos: 7 - 3 — 70.00% (!!!)
McDavid and Draisaitl lead their charges into Dallas (37-21-7) to play the Stars tomorrow night.