The Oilers started brightly, especially the best player you’ll ever see Connor McDavid. He was nuts early. It’s like whatever Leon Draisaitl has lost via a high ankle sprain, McDavid has gained it. Like he has some sort of buff that allows him to gain health and skill bonuses or something. He started like he was shot out of a cannon. On his first shift he absolutely pasted Sean Durzi in the far corner just because he could.
Unfortunately for Edmonton, they couldn’t capitalize on the McDavid of it all early, and were held scoreless through the first 10 minutes. Los Angeles couldn’t get anything going either, and were, in fact, held shotless for the first 7 or so minutes. They did manufacture one good look in that time though, as Adrian Kempe was camped in front and got a one-timer off from a really dangerous location, but it hit Darnell Nurse’s thumb and deflected well wide. Otherwise though, not much from the visitors.
For some reason I simply cannot understand, Josh Archibald played like second-line winger minutes in the first period. His line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Derek Ryan appeared to be charged with sawing off the Phillip Danault minutes and, while they technically did, they got their show run more often than not, and the Kings enjoyed their most productive shifts against that trio.
Penalties were, almost certainly, taken in the first period, but not a single one was called. One particular sequence saw Alex Edler raking a stickless Derek Ryan in the far corner, stopping only to change which part of the boards he was ramming Ryan’s face into, but there was no call.
The McDavid shifts continued to yield half chances and zone time, but still the Oilers couldn’t find the all-important first goal. But neither could LA. 0-0 after 20. It was nervy.
Edmonton has been quite good in most of the second periods in this series, and that wonderful trend continued tonight. From almost the first shift, they put the boots to LA and never really took them off.
The Oilers attacked in waves, only ever relenting — it seemed to me — when the 10-93-15 trio was out there. Even then, most of LA’s shots were coming from outside, but they almost always accompanied traffic in front, and you just never know. Thankfully, none of those shifts yielded anything of note for the visitors.
And then, finally, the Oilers never-ending pressure told. After another wonderful, absolutely monstrous shift by the Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto line, Edmonton finally got the game’s first goal. Said monstrous shift saw the puck find Connor McDavid behind the LA net. He operated for a moment — after operating for many moments just prior — before selecting and executing the exact correct pass to Cody Ceci, who was beginning to creep in from the blue line. He collected the feed and beat a challenging Jonathan Quick cleanly to send Rogers Place into a frenzy. 1-0. LFG.
Just under a minute later, as the Oilers continued to push, Durzi hauled a pinching Evan Bouchard down in the slot just as he was bearing down on a juicy rebound in front of an already down Quick to take the game’s first penalty.
While it would have been fantastic for all involved if the Oilers managed to find the killshot on the PP while they had so much momentum, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. But that didn’t stop them from attacking in waves until about the last 90 or so seconds in which LA found a little bit of life. Fortunately, Mike Smith was sharp and able to answer any questions they asked him. 1-0 after 40 minutes. Shots after two periods were 34-18 Oilers. LFG.
The third period was a blur for me. I apologize. I cannot recall anything about what I just sat through at a level of detail worth repeating except for one very specific detail.
Connor McDavid is the best player ever. He capitalized on a loose puck inside the OZ blue and took it to the house. Durzi had no choice but to assault him, and he drew a penalty on the play despite not getting a shot off. And then he decided. He kept with it, kept possession behind the net, wheeled back in front, and eventually outwaited a flailing Jonathan Quick and buried a backhand to become the second player ever to have 6 multi-point games in an NHL playoff series. Points on 10 of the Oilers last 10 goals. Absolute masterclass.
“I’m just part of the team, man.” - Connor McDavid in the post-game.
I’m extremely happy for him. I’m still trying to comfort my cats that, no, I’m not losing my absolute mind.
ROUND TWO. OPPO TBD. LFG.