The Edmonton Oilers (4-0-0) were in Las Vegas on Saturday night to take on the Golden Knights (1-2-0) in their second game in as many nights. Mikko Koskinen (2-0-0, 0.959%), reprising his role as “guy who played too much too often too early” from a year ago, got the start for Edmonton, while Robin Lehner (1-2-0, 0.909%) got the nod for Vegas. The Golden Knights were missing a veritable handful of key players, including Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Alec Martinez, giving the Oilers a puncher’s chance at a perfect start to the 2021-22 season.
The Oilers started this one on the back foot, perhaps due to playing the Coyotes in Phoenix 24 hours earlier. As a result, Vegas carried the play for the first couple of minutes, and took the lead on the back of that initiative. Duncan Keith’s stretch pass was intercepted in the NZ, Vegas caused some ruckus, the puck worked back to the point, and the shot was deflected past Koskinen. 0-1.
The hosts continue to press for a shift or so before Edmonton stabilized a little bit and gave Koskinen a chance to breathe. Before long, they drew a penalty through Keith after he got tangled up, and held, by Reilly Smith.
The Oilers power play — maybe the best ever — hopped over the boards and tied the game almost immediately. Leon Draisaitl found Connor McDavid at the top of the right circle. McDavid attacked the slot before working the puck to the paint, where Zach Hyman somehow won a 1v4 and shoveled the puck home. It went in off his skate but they didn’t even look at it. 1-1.
From there it was a bit more of a back and forth affair with Vegas getting the better of the chances until the Edmonton took two quick penalties — through Tyson Barrie and Darnell Nurse — that led to a lengthy 5v3 for the hosts. Koskinen stood tall early in the PK and Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ate some time toward the end to kill them both.
Vegas carried the play the rest of the way but, again, Koskinen was immense and the Oilers did just enough to survive, carrying a 1-1 tie into the break.
The Golden Knights took just over a minute to restore their lead, again via deflection in front. This time, Nolan Patrick was able to get his stick on a pretty soft wrist shot from the right point that went underneath a committed Koskinen. 1-2.
Edmonton picked themselves up almost immediately and began funneling pucks toward Lehner, and found the tying goal just a few minutes later. Jesse Puljujarvi retrieved the puck to Lehner’s left before shoveling it low to McDavid. He worked around behind the net and found Zack Hyman between the hashmarks to rifle — and I do mean rifle he shot the shit out of it — top shelf and beyond Lehner. 2-2.
And shortly after that, they found their first lead. Lehner couldn’t handle Kris Russell’s — yes, that Kris Russell — wrister from the point and the rebound fell kindly for RNH. His tap pass to a lurking Draisaitl was precisely in the wheelhouse and Draisaitl banged it home from a tight angle. 3-2.
Edmonton continued to press and earned themselves a two-man advantage thanks to penalties drawn by Kailer Yamamoto and then Connor McDavid when they were already on the PP. Unfortunately, despite going close a number of times — including a fluffy one from McDavid off the near post — they couldn’t extend their lead.
After the kill, Vegas gained momentum and carried the play for the remainder of the period. Koskinen was again resolute, the Oilers managed to do just enough to dodge a goal against.
Vegas continued their momentum into the final frame and got the equalizer just over two minutes in. Nicolas Hague gathered after the OZ faceoff, drifted toward the middle and simply beat an unscreened Koskinen with a bomb. 3-3.
The Oilers continued to reel for a couple of shifts after giving up the GTG before striking again to restore their lead. This time, Keith picked off a Hague pass, and found Zack Kassian with a stretchy pass of his own to send him in all alone. Kassian opened Lehner up and tucked it home to put Edmonton back in front. 4-3.
A couple of minutes later — again following a spell of Vegas outplaying the Oilers — Kassian was called for interference as Warren Foegele was bearing down on Lehner. The Oilers did well to kill it, with Koskinen making a couple of key stops.
Vegas continued to push the pace following their unsuccessful PP — they were significantly better than the Oilers for almost the entire period — but the Oilers hung on.
The Golden Knights pulled Robin Lehner with less than two minutes left, but they couldn’t solve Koskinen. Eventually, the puck fell to Leon Draisaitl after a bit of chaos in front of Edmonton’s net, and he sent it 190’ into the vacant net. 5-3.
It was ugly, but it counts. 5-0-0. Pretty impressive result on the second half of a SEGABABA, even if they were outplayed for large chunks of the game. We’ll take it, and see you next time.
CF - 40.2%
FF - 38.46%
xGF - 44.96%
GF - 50%
OVR - 5-0-0
The Oilers get a couple of days off before returning home for a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, October 27.