The Edmonton Oilers took home a razor-thin 3-2 shootout victory against the Vancouver Canucks on opening night. Jesse Puljujarvi and Zach Hyman had the regulation goals while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kyle Turris potted some shootout goals to give the Oil the win!
It was a game that had you on the edge of your seat alllll night long! I watched it and took notes so I could give you guys a complete recap of how we EVENTUALLY got to Edmonton’s first win of the season so, without further ado, here is your first post-gamer of the season...
Despite the hype being on the side of the Oilers, it would be the Canucks who got the first few chances of the game. Darnell Nurse sent an errant pass up the middle of the ice that gave Elias Pettersson a chance to dance down the middle. Luckily Smith was there to deny him.
Surprisingly, the first line of Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi wasn’t the most impressive early on. They had their chances but that make-shift second line anchored by Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked deadly. Hyman in particular was all over the ice, creating a chance every time he was on the ice.
The bottom-six was also buzzing for Edmonton as Warren Foegele and Colton Sceviour came close on chances of their own in-tight against Demko.
Eventually, the top-line would get their time in the limelight as Jesse Puljujarvi would clean up the trash on a rebound to score the team’s first goal of the 2021/22 NHL season. Perfect positioning, perfect shot, and a perfect Finnish to get Edmonton up 1-0 late in the first period.
The Canucks would push as the period entered its dying minutes, with Nils Hoglander getting a few chances for the visitors, but Mike Smith stood tall to keep the Oilers in the lead heading into the second period.
The middle frame was not for the faint of heart. Both teams were playing with a laser-fast pace as Edmonton tried to extend their lead while Vancouver searched for the equalizer. The Oilers had the edge in possession for the first half of the period with their best chance coming off a breakaway chance by Kailer Yamamoto.
The Canucks would launch a full-on assault for the last half, however, as play started to tilt toward the Edmonton zone. Things really started to pick up after Colton Sceviour dropped the gloves with Tyler Myers after the latter absolutely blew up Duncan Keith in the Oiler's corner.
The power-play would be the story of the period. Edmonton capitalized on one of their two opportunities with an absolutely beautiful passing play from McDavid to Draisaitl to Hyman. Draisaitl in particular fooled every one in the arena by opting for the tap pass rather than his patented one-timer.
Hyman had his first as an Oiler and the home team had some insurance with a 2-0 lead going into the final frame.
The pace didn’t slow down in third. Hyman continued to be a standout player for the Oilers as he had a few nice rushes in the first few minutes. Smith was also solid in the Edmonton crease as he made a few nice stops on a Canucks power-play to keep them off the board.
Their luck on the penalty-kill eventually ran out after Tyson Barrie got caught on a trip around the mid-way point of the net. Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent a point-shot that deflected off RNH’s stick and fooled Smith to get within one. 2-1 game.
Quinn Hughes would then find that equalizer in the dying minutes of the game after a floater from the half-boards fooled Smith. A tough goal to give up late in a game. 2-2 with just a couple of minutes to go.
That would be it for regulation play as we would see some OT action on opening night!
The teams traded chances to start the overtime period. Draisaitl had the first chance in the slot that was denied by Demko. Horvat was then stone-walled by Smith on a partial break. Elias Pettersson walked in for a chance later in the period but once again, it was Smith who stood tall.
Suprisingly enough, nobody was able to beat the goaltenders so we were destined to play a shootout.
Oilers opt to shoot first.
EDM: Leon Draisaitl — X
VAN: Elias Pettersson — X
EDM: Connor McDavid — X
VAN: J.T. Miller — X
EDM: Tyson Barrie — X
VAN: Conor Garland — X
EDM: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — GOAL
VAN: Bo Horvat — GOAL
EDM: Kyle Turris — GOAL
VAN: Tanner Pearson — X
OILERS WIN IT 3-2 OFF A SHOOTOUT WINNER BY KYLE TURRIS!
- Mike Smith was a bit of a mixed bag tonight. He played well for the majority of the game but then things started to unwind in the dying minutes. Don’t get me wrong, he kept the club in the game for periods in the second but one bad goal is all it takes to turn a good game into a bad game for an NHL goaltender. Hopefully, we see more of that ‘first half of the game’ Smith this season. He did make up for it in a great OT period and shootout with a few 10-bellers.
- Outside of the first line, I thought Zach Hyman was the most noticeable player on the team tonight. He came as advertised, stirred the pot, and led a few impressive rushes up the ice. His positioning in front of the net on his goal was magnificent and he really changes the complexion of that second line.
- Speaking of the second-line, I’d argue that they played a better game than the top-line. It sounds insane saying that given that the top-line consisted of McDavid and Draisaitl but I mean it. Having that line play that well could be a huge game-changer this season.
- Edmonton’s PP is good. They went 1/2 on the night and boy was it a beauty!
- Penalty-kill was also very good. I am a fan of having Hyman paired with Nuge on the kill...they were excellent.
- As much as I love having Hyman in front of the net, I think we should get more Puljujarvi on that top unit PP. He is an absolute beast of a kid and scored the team’s first of the season in that position. Definitely a wealth of options for Edmonton to deploy in that spot.
- Who else had Kyle Turris with the game-winner in the shootout? Just me? Ok, I’ll take that ;)
- The Oilers are a PERFECT 1-0-0 to start the season! They will look to make it 2-0-0 this Saturday for the first edition of the Battle of Alberta!