Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (2-0-0) welcomed Trevor Zegras and the Anaheim Ducks to Rogers Place on Wednesday, trying to stay undefeated on the young season. Mike Smith (2-0-0, 0.953%), who has been fantastic through two games, got the nod for the Oilers while former Oiler Anthony Stolarz (0-1-0, 0.953% — weird) was in goal for the visitors.
The Oilers started this one brightly, carrying the play and all of the offense through the first 3-4 shifts. But Anaheim escaped unscathed and grew into the game themselves over the next few minutes. They eventually took the lead off of a pretty nice play, taking advantage of space left by a roaming Duncan Keith. Kevin Shattenkirk was the scorer. 1-1.
Edmonton responded just over three minutes later, as Warren Foegele lugged the puck between the blue lines before dumping it off to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was out late at the end of his shift. He worked around behind the net, just long enough for Zack Kassian to arrive at the far post to tap in his pass and tie it. 1-1.
About five or so minutes later, Mike Smith made a big stop on a one-timer from in tight, and the rebound fell to Jesse Puljujarvi down low. Head up, he found Leon Draisaitl in the neutral zone, who then feathered a wonderful little area pass for Connor McDavid to catch up with, gather, and beat Stolarz clean through the gates. 2-1.
The lead lasted just over two minutes, before Anaheim tied it through Sam Steel’s first of the season. 2-2. It stayed that way for a couple of minutes, but with just under a minute left in the frame, Puljujarvi drew two penalties on the same shift. You don’t see that every day.
Edmonton’s vaunted PP1 stayed out there and Leon Draisaitl banged home a Connor McDavid pass — Draisaitl’s 200th career goal — to put the Oilers back in front. 3-2.
The Oilers still had a 5v4 PP for the rest of the period but couldn’t find another one, opting to save 66 seconds of PP time for the start of the second rather than extend their lead. Shots were 11-10 in favor of Edmonton after 20 minutes
The second period was less exciting, especially if you’re partial to the home team. Edmonton generated a healthy amount of shots on goal — at one point owning a 13-4 advantage in the period before Anaheim generated a few more — but couldn’t beat Stolarz with any of them.
Evan Bouchard got so fed up he tried to murder Stolarz with a rocket from the right side! Right in the lips! That, too, didn’t beat him. Stolarz was shaken up for a moment, too, but he remained in the game.
Eventually, Edmonton were made to pay for their profligacy. First, in the ninth minute, through Nicolas Deslaurier after Zach Hyman fell down deep in the OZ and neither Darnell Nurse nor Tyson Barrie could overcome the odd-man rush. 3-3.
They were made to pay again just over a minute later. Again through Sam Steel. 3-4.
Mike Smith was pulled not long after the fourth goal, but speculation on the broadcast and Twitter was that it was an injury pull after Devin Shore kind of fell on his leg. In either case, the Mikko Koskinen era began anew for 2021-22.
Woof. Shots after 40 minutes were 29-22 Edmonton, which sounds alright on its face, but make no mistake — they were bad in P2. Dave Tippett swapped Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie midway through the period, by the way, in case you were wondering how that signing was going.
Bouchard started beside Nurse to open the third period, too. This proved beneficial for the hosts as he flashed a dangerous pass through the high slot before drawing a penalty within the first few minutes. Edmonton threw it around for awhile before the play ended with Jesse Puljujarvi being tripped while he was trying to corral a McDavid pass in the high slot. Somehow, they didn’t call that trip, and the Oilers had a 5v4 instead of the 5v3 they deserved.
It didn’t matter. The first unit was denied but the second unit — anchored by Bouchard and Puljujarvi — picked them up with a goal of their own. The puck worked to Bouchard, atop the circle to Stolarz’ right and his shot-pass was redirected by one of Zack Kassian or Puljujarvi in front. In either case, 4-4.
Moments later, Mikko Koskinen got caught dawdling in possession behind the net, and the puck bounced dangerously close to the bad side of the goal line before Connor McDavid — ever the defensive conscious of this team — swept it off the line and away from danger. Close.
A few minutes after that, Edmonton got back in front. A nice pass from Leon Draisaitl to Puljujarvi led to the entry. JP tried to float one in front of Bouchard but he couldn’t get on the end of it. Never a quitter, Bouchard took a flail at it with one hand in the corner. It went toward net and somehow banked in behind Stolarz. 5-4.
Edmonton found another power play with about five minutes to play, but couldn’t find another goal. Anaheim pulled Stolarz for an extra attacker at the 2:07 mark, but they couldn’t nab the equalizer before Edmonton poked one into the empty net. McDavid gathered the puck after a DZ draw, and found Hyman for the zone exit. He drove wide to create a 2-on-0 with Draisaitl, then deferred to the former MVP for the easy one. 6-4.
But hold up. Kevin Shattenkirk found another from the high slot after a bit of a broken play. 6-5 with just over 17 seconds remaining.
17 seconds they survived. 3-0-0 to start the 2021-22 season. Onward.
I mean, it is genuinely funny that Tyson Barrie lost his 5v5 job in game 3/82. It took less than THREE FULL GAMES to prove, I think definitively, that signing Tyson Barrie was an egregious mistake. He and Nurse combine to make almost $14MM next season (and beyond). Meanwhile, the Oilers will have no choice but to feed Bouchard minutes and opportunities in a contact year. Can’t wait.
Game 3 (Vs Anahiem): An entertaining, high-event game. Bouchard was excellent, especially when paired with Nurse, while Barrie massively struggled. The 2nd line was also not good, but the third line was outstanding and Keith - Ceci played really solid after a rough 1st period. pic.twitter.com/MMxSPyHhp0— Sid (@NHL_Sid) October 20, 2021
5v5 CF% - 46.74%
5v5 FF% - 48.53%
5v5 xGF% - 58.91%
5v5 GF% - 37.5%
Edmonton heads to Arizona to take on the Coyotes on Thursday night, with puck drop slated for a few minutes after 8PM MST. See you then.