While we sit and wait for the NHL season to hopefully pick up in the next couple of months, let’s turn back the dial to a moment in fairly recent history. I’m talking about 2017, which would be the club’s first playoff year in over a decade.
Today’s dip back into history features the Oilers facing off against what would eventually be their first round opponent in that year’s playoffs. Having just clinched a playoff berth two nights prior with a big win over the Kings, the Oilers were gunning for the top of the Pacific. A win would bring them to one point of the Ducks.
Let’s go back!
The Oilers were looking for two points in this one. It did not begin well.
Paul Martin picks off a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and launches a shot at Oilers netminder Cam Talbot. Sixty-one seconds into the period, Jannik Hansen picks up Martin’s rebound and puts it behind Talbot for a 1-0 San Jose lead. Not ideal.
Please recall Cam Talbot. Talbot was a strongman for the Oilers in the 2016-17 NHL season. Cam Talbot would go on to lead the league in minutes played (4294), saves (1946), and games played (73). The Oilers had to lean on Cam Talbot because 2016 offseason acquisition Jonas Gustavsson was unreliable at best, Laurent Brossoit would find his way onto the main roster, but it was Talbot’s show to run.
Cam Talbot didn’t disappoint in this one. San Jose put up 40 shots to Edmonton’s 22, and Talbot was perfect save for one early in the first. That’s good, because the Oilers would need him to be.
Midway through the first period, Patrick Maroon would break through for the Oilers.
Cam Talbot shipped the puck to a streaking Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl would get it over to an even streakier Connor McDavid who would dance around the Shark defence. McDavid would get the puck to Maroon, who had an easy tap-in behind Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.
The goal is Maroon’s 26th of the season. That guy’s going to get a giant contract somewhere after this year, yeah?
It’s one-all through the first period.
Opportunity would strike later in the first period while the Oilers were killing off a penalty. Zack Kassian would take two minutes for a hooking penalty on San Jose defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
If you’re going to let McDavid in while you’re making a bad line change, you do so at your own peril. 97 splits the Shark defence and makes this one 2-1 late in the first period. The goal is McDavid’s 28th of the year, while Oscar Klefbom and Drake Caggiula pick up assists on the go-ahead.
Edmonton takes a 2-1 lead in after one. We’ll take it.
The score holds until midway through the third period, when Kris Russell (!!) tees off from the point. Patrick Maroon is in front to tip it in for his second goal of the night. It’s Maroon’s 27th goal of the year (he will finish the season with that many). Russell picks up 10th assist of the season as the Oilers go up 3-1.
The 3-1 score would hold up until there were about six minutes remaining in the third.
Joe Pavelski would cut the lead to one when he redirected a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Pavelski’s 29th goal would get a little bit of doubt into the minds of Oiler fans, but it would be all that the Sharks could muster.
Cam Talbot would continue to play lights out for the remainder of the game as he turns adie a total of 38 shots out of 40. The Oilers pick up two more points in their quest for the Pacific. Who would the Oilers face in round one?
Would this be the year that the Oilers would finally make some noise in the second season?