The Edmonton Oilers were in Montreal for the first of two games on Monday night with only the playoff fortunes of other NHL teams at stake. The Oilers, fresh off a milestone night on Saturday night, were looking to keep the good vibes going against a Canadiens team needing just a single point to clinch their playoff spot. A Habs win would eliminate the Flames, but an Oilers win — and a Jets win over Vancouver — would cement Winnipeg as the third seed and, thus, the Oilers’ round one opponent. Lots to play for despite there being very little to play for, really.
The game started out with both sides trading barbs and neither doing much with them. Montreal drew the game’s first penalty through a Kailer Yamamoto trip on Brett Kulak, but they couldn’t generate much on the ensuing power play.
Events were hard to come by through the first eight minutes, and the shots on goal read 3-3 at the 12:15 mark. But then it got interesting.
A bad pinch from Tyson Barrie saw Darnell Nurse trying to stop a Jake Evans partial breakaway. Evans put the brakes on, sent Nurse for a hot dog, and beat Koskinen clean over the left shoulder. 0-1.
Edmonton equalized almost immediately. Nice work from Alex Chiasson and James Neal allowed them to gain possession in the near corner before Chiasson walked behind the net and threw it in front. Ryan McLeod got a little touch on it and sent it back toward the near post where Neal was waiting to tap it home. 1-1. McLeod’s first NHL point. More history.
The Oilers kept coming and found a second a few minutes later. A wonderful stretch pass from Caleb Jones found Leon Draisaitl at the OZ blue. He deferred to Kailer Yamamoto, whose unintentional dummy froze Jake Allen and left Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with an easy finish, by NHL standards. 2-1.
That’s how the first would finish, with the Oilers coming all the way back from an early deficit to take a one-goal lead into the break.
Edmonton started the second period on the front foot but couldn’t pad their lead, and it came back to bite them. James Neal took a tripping penalty on Alexander Romanov behind the Canadiens’ net.
The Oilers killed the penalty but Montreal tied it seconds after it expired. Paul Byron was the beneficiary of some poor net-front awareness by Edmonton and was left all alone at Koskinen’s far post for a tap in. 2-2.
Edmonton kept coming though and restored their lead a few shifts later. This time, Connor McDavid — who hadn’t factored on either of Edmonton’s goals yet tonight which is statistically unlikely this season — got involved. He picked up the puck at the near dot, broke Tomas Tatar’s poor little ankles, and threaded a pass to precisely and only where Dominik Kahun could tap it in. 3-2.
Montreal pushed back some for the last few minutes of the period but couldn’t find the equalizer. I’m not sure they know it’s actually Denzel Washington and that he’s an actor. Anyway.
Another good period for the visiting Oilers and another one-goal lead to bring into the intermission.
Hoping for something other than 19 minutes of getting shelled here, been a good performance so far— x - Copper & Blue (@CopperandBlue) May 11, 2021
I should have known.
When you get to the Game Flow, you’ll see that I didn’t get what I’d hoped for. Instead, it was a 19 minute exercise in seeing how squeaky your bum can get as the Canadiens pushed for the first thirteen of those minutes — even scoring one that was pulled back for offside — until the dam broke and they tied it up for real.
The Oilers cleared the zone but weren’t able to retain possession. On the ensuing entry, Artturi Lekhonen fired one from an extremely stoppable spot along the near wall. Nobody told Koskinen it was extremely stoppable, however, and it somehow escaped him at the near post. 3-3.
Frustratingly, that’s how it regulation would end. Not for any reason other than I had to keep watching a game which meant mostly nothing from the beginning. The Oilers donating a point to the Canadiens is otherwise fine because it eliminates the Calgary Flames from playoff contention. Eat shit, Flames.
Limiting the Canadiens to a single point means they don’t leapfrog the Winnipeg Jets into third place in the North. So, about halfway through overtime:
Could they have drawn it up any better? Punting Calgary and keeping Montreal at bay at the same time?!
You do, indeed, have to love it. You do, indeed, love to see it.
101. An impressive number of Dalmatians. A more impressive amount of points through 54 NHL games in 2021.