Well folks, it’s game number two of the 2020-21 season. Game one, not to be dramatic, was a total disaster and we’re hoping for better results this evening.
The lineup looks to be the same except for backup goaltender and fourth line, as Stuart Skinner is stepping in for Mike Smith, who was expected to make his first start of the year tonight. Alas, Koskinen, who I didn’t think was very sharp last night, gets the start again. Devin Shore will also draw into the lineup on the fourth line for Tyler Ennis, who was deemed unfit to play after taking a shot off the foot in the third period last night.
Keys to the game tonight:
- Take care of the defensive zone first
- McDavid gets on the scoresheet
- Tighter forecheck
Here we go.
McDavid’s line gets off to a hot start, with McDavid feeding a beautiful pass over to Kassian and Demko making the point blank saves on not one, but two attempts. Also, doesn’t seem to matter who’s on the Oilers’ fourth line, they’re going to give up a lot of shots. Fortunately, Tippett has seemingly made the right change in putting Draisaitl’s line on the Horvat line. The McDavid line seems to be having much more zone time when tucked away from the Vancouver’s captain’s line.
I also have a question... will Kassian ever hit anyone again? I thought he was supposed to be the team’s physical presence?
Motte takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone, and the Oilers are onto their first powerplay of the game. “Two minutes for nudging, as it were,” per Jack Michaels on the broadcast. After a few high quality chances, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pots him the rebound off a Draisaitl shot. Assists from Neon Leon and Connor McJesus. 1-0 Oilers.
Unfortunately, Yamamoto’s sparkplug play sometimes gets him in trouble. He takes 2 minutes for slashing Elias Pettersson. No damage done.
Koskinen has looked much sharper tonight, which helps the team’s confidence. With a VERY soft call against Kassian in the neutral zone, the Oilers are back to the penalty kill. It’s killed off, but it looks like our star free agent signing, Slater Koekkoek, takes a big shot off the wrist and I’m worried. To top it off, Caleb Jones is hobbled by another shot block.
OH MY GOD MCDAVID SCORES WITH 0.07 SECONDS LEFT!! A face-off play executed to perfection, McDavid jumps on the rebound after a quick onetimer from Yamamoto to put the Oilers up two. That faceoff wouldn’t have been possible without the hustle of Puljujarvi beforehand though, who has been playing great so far tonight.
0.5 seconds left. @cmcdavid97 | #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/4zW9BFYURk— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 15, 2021
Shots are 17-10, score is 2-0 Oilers. A great bounce back period, with two points from the captain.
To open the period, the Canucks absolutely should have scored after a bobble by Koskinen but they missed a few open nets... A couple minutes later, Schmidt slides one in along the ice from the point. 2-1 Oilers. The puck may have changed direction though, not Koskinen’s fault. The fourth line of the Oilers just can’t find ANYTHING this year.
A complaint of mine last night was how much free space the Oilers gave Hoglander, the Canucks star rookie. Tonight, Nurse certainly gave him a “welcome to the big leagues” moment along the boards.
The McDavid line continues to buzz, with all three members of the line getting quality chances, RNH beating Demko but not the post. The Oilers come right back with another Grade A chance on a behind the back pass from JP to Turris, who is stoned by Demko.
Another powerplay for the Oilers, with Motte taking 2 minutes for two handing Ethan Bear on the hands. And just like that, McDavid flies by the Canuck penalty killers and then cuts to the middle before ripping a shot top shelf. 3-1 Oilers. Hooooo baby.
Behold @cmcdavid97. #NHLFaceOff pic.twitter.com/csC0Upqj2D— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 15, 2021
Vancouver gets a tip-in goal in the high slot from Motte, and it’s 3-2 Oilers. Oilers defenders need to do a better job taking away sticks in their zone. Jeeze Louise. And despite his expletive-laden explanation, Darnell Nurse is off to the box. Things get evened up though, as a high hit by RNH on Boeser gets Hughes’ attention, who forgets about the play and tries to jump Nuge mid-sequence.
As the Oilers powerplay comes to an end... Connor McDavid, hat trick. Beautiful pass by Leon, and Demko makes an incredible first save, but McDavid sticks with it and bats home his third of the night. 4-2 Oilers.
Connor McDavid of the @EdmontonOilers scored the first hat trick of the 2020-21 NHL season.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 15, 2021
@cmcdavid97 has seven career hat tricks in the regular season and one during the playoffs, which was in Game 2 of the 2020 #StanleyCup Qualifiers. #NHLStats #NHLFaceOff pic.twitter.com/E5agSM9fEy
One in the negative column for the captain, as he takes a holding penalty on Vancouver’s Adam Gaudette – though he probably saved a goal. Pettersson zips an absolute rocket off the crossbar, but that’s as close as they’ll get on the powerplay.
Another penalty to the little Yam Fry for goalie interference with a minute to go, and a scrum at the other end when Beagle digs in on Koskinen and the big man does not respond well.
Hoglander gets called for holding a few minutes into the period, and the Oilers look to bury the Canucks on the powerplay. A few good chances, including a big onetimer from Tyson Barrie, but no luck on this one.
WOOOO, RNH puts one in from Yamamoto, his second of the night. The Oilers put a three goal on the Canucks, up 5-2.
Just a fantastic feed from Yamo. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/4iT6qEvN2m— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 15, 2021
And that’s all folks, Oilers win 5-2 in a game with 87 combined shots. Next game is Saturday at 5 p.m. MT vs the Montreal Canadiens.