The Washington Capitals (31-18-9), fresh off a comeback win over the Calgary Flames, were in town tonight to take on the Edmonton Oilers (30-23-4) — who were losers to those same Flames last time out. Edmonton came into this one down both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi but up one Zack Kassian, who was playing his first game since missing 14 with a broken jaw. Mikko Koskinen, who has been in good knick lately, got the start for Edmonton with Ilya Samsonov in net for the visiting Capitals.
Edmonton started a bit sluggishly in the first minute or two, with Mikko Koskinen having to be sharp early to keep the game scoreless and allow his Oilers to grow into it. Fortunately, he was, and they did. Before long, the Oilers were generating a flurry of their own — complete with a few good looks — before drawing a power play via Devin Shore. Yep, you read that right.
The Oilers PP — still ranked near the top of the league despite very obviously struggling of late — hopped over the wall and started firing at Samsonov. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the game’s first goal despite looking better than they have in a few games at least.
Washington found a bit of pushback after their successful kill, but Edmonton didn’t really allow them too much, and were again on the front foot a few minutes later. Their impetus helped draw another penalty, this time through a questionable interference call on a Martin Fehervary hit on Zach Hyman.
This time, the PP reverted to (recent) form a little bit, and weren’t able to generate the same rate — or quality — of good looks as their first try. Washington killed it again.
The rest of the period was relatively uneventful, with neither side offering much. As such, the first period ended 0-0, with Edmonton enjoying a nice lead in terms of SOGs, 20(!!)-9. All in all, a pretty good opening frame for the hosts.
It took less than three minutes for Washington to take the game’s first lead. A broken play that saw an area pass deflected en route to the low slot, fell very kindly for Nicklas Backstrom to spin and fire a no-look backhand underneath a surprised Mikko Koskinen. 0-1.
Edmonton got back on the front foot almost immediately following the goal, but weren’t able to solve an in-form (at least tonight) Ilya Samsonov. Then they took two consecutive penalties — Zach Hyman for holding and then Evander Kane less than 20 seconds after the Oilers killed that penalty — but managed to kill them both.
Buoyed by the momentum of those two kills, Edmonton pressed forward once more and drew their third penalty — mostly thanks to Peter Laviolette’s inability to count to five — and, this time, were able to take advantage of the man...advantage.
Connor McDavid gathered the puck along the near wall before firing an absolute laser of a pass to Kailer Yamamoto to tap in on the doorstep. 1-1. Samsonov solved. Once, anyway. 1-1.
A shift or two after tying the game, Warren Foegele took a pretty indefensible offensive zone penalty that put the Oilers underneath it once more. And this time, it cost them. John Carlson was afforded a literal acreage of space at the top of the zone before being allowed — no, escorted — to the slot to pound one past Koskinen’s left ear. 1-2.
Or, was it?
Upon review, it was determined that Nicklas Backstrom was extremely offside and the goal was wiped. H/T to Jeremy Coupal, the Oilers video coach who has saved as many goals as Mike Smith over the past two weeks. 1-1.
The Oilers managed to kill off the rest of the Foegele penalty, and then took full advantage of the momentum swing and found their first lead of the night. Cody Ceci made a nice play just outside of Washington’s zone to turn the puck over and make a short pass to Derek Ryan for the controlled entry. The puck found its way to Brad Malone, whose shot handcuffed Samsonov and fell to Ceci. It took him two swings, but he eventually lofted a backhand past Samsonov thanks to some nice hand-eye. 2-1.
The rest of the period played out scoreless, and Edmonton took a one-goal lead into the second intermission. Washington got the better of the period 2 SOGs battle, outshooting Edmonton 15-9 thanks to a few PPs.
The first couple of shifts were relatively uneventful before Derek Ryan drew a penalty on Evgeny Kuznetsov. The ensuing PP was an absolute fire drill on Samsonov, but somehow Edmonton couldn’t find an insurance marker. One save in particular, in which Samsonov dove across and stuck out his right leg to kick out a one-timer, looms large.
But after escaping unscathed, Washington drew a penalty of their own. Unfortunately, the goal they scored wasn’t wiped. A bit of a snipe, sure, but a goal Koskinen might want back because of the angle it was scored from alone. 2-2.
Edmonton tried to hit back immediately, once again pushing for the go-ahead goal. And a few minutes later, they got it. Evan Bouchard collected the rim-around just inside the Capitals’ blue line. He fed the puck toward goal, where Brad Malone tipped it just wide. Zack Kassian was first to it, however, and flipped a nice, short backhand pass to a persistent Malone in front, and his first-time effort beat Samsonov on the near side. 3-2. Brad Malone’s first goal since December 2015. 2015! The Oilers still had Taylor Hall the last time Brad Malone scored an NHL goal.
Devin Shore — yes, I know — almost scored a wild goal after a nice move, but he couldn’t find the finish after doing 98% of the work.
Washington pulled their goalie with 2:49 to go in the third for a critical draw to Mikko Koskinen’s left. Edmonton averted the immediate pressure but faced a few more DZ draws before the final buzzer. Zach Hyman looked to be clear for a breakaway on an obvious and egregious hook by Alex Ovechkin, but the refs didn’t call it.
Unfortunately, that outrageous missed call mattered. With fractions left on the clock, the puck found T.J. Oshie in the very high slot and he absolutely blistered one beyond Koskinen a breath before the buzzer. 3-3.
Honestly, folks, my food came. But the crux of OT was this:
There was a lot of shenanigans leading up to that moment, but justice was served. 4-3. Final.
The NHL is a joke. The officiating is absolutely shambolic, across the board. I would never bet on a hockey game. I honestly forgot how aggravating it is to watch a full NHL game. Truly baffling that we all do this something like 82 times per year at minimum.
But, hey, the Oilers were pretty good tonight. They deserved to win. Don’t believe me? Check this out. In Jay Woodcroft We Trust. In Ken Holland We Do Not.
CF% - 57.65%
FF% - 53.73%
xGF% - 69.24%
GF% - 66.67%
Edmonton welcomes the Tampa Bay Lightning to Rogers Place on Saturday night. 8PM MST start. LFG.