Happy to have a point after being down by a pair, but it definitely should have been two. Final Score: 3-2 Sabres in OT
As I wrote in this morning’s GDB, the Oilers had the chance to take advantage of a Sabres team that was coming off a tough loss yesterday in Vancouver, and they needed to do a much better job of handling the opportunity than they did against Ottawa on Wednesday (*sigh*). With RNH and Kassian back in the lineup, I felt hopeful that those upgrades in the top six would make a sizeable impact on the way the team played, and that we’d see the impact on the scoreboard. With those guys out, we saw the holes in this team’s depth and I was hoping that neither of them had racked up too much rust because Gord knows we need them to be at their best. Would it make a difference tonight? No, not it would not, but I’m still happy they were back anyways.
As always, the most important things the Oilers could for themselves was to have a strong start and try to push the pace before the Sabres had a chance to settle in and get their legs moving. While Edmonton did get the quick start they wanted and plenty of good looks on net, they were unable to capitalize on those opportunities and it proved costly. At the other end of the rink, the Sabres were tighter with their puck choices, manufactured turnovers, cashed in a pair of goals, and left the Oilers in a sizeable hole when the game was only 10 minutes old. The good news is that home side didn’t stop battling or working for offensive opportunities, and they were able to erase the deficit and claw their way back into a tie game. In fact, the Oilers completely dominated the second period and the fact that they were only able to pick up a pair of goals is almost a shame.
Heading into the third period with the score knotted at two, the plan had to be to keep building on the strong play they had going in the second. With wave after wave of pressure being thrown the Sabres way, the Oilers looked primed to complete the comeback and walk from this night with two points despite the early hole they put themselves in. Unfortunately, Ullmark was up for the challenge and shut the door, getting the game to overtime where anything is possible. In the bonus period, the Oilers gave up the puck and couldn’t get it back, which set the Sabres up with the puck possession they needed cap things off. In the end, the Oilers weren’t able to overcome the tough start and it was especially frustrating given how much better they were than the Sabres for big chunks of the night.
Why can’t the Oilers beat teams on the back half of a back-to-back set? It’s a problem.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Not only did Riley Sheahan score his first goal as an Oiler after being sprung in alone on a beautiful stretch pass by Joakim Nygard which pulled the Oilers back to within a single goal (2-1), but he also fulfilled my NSOGDP from this morning’s GDB. I’m not saying that I’m a witch, but I might be a which. Either way, this was easily Riley Sheahan’s best game as an Oiler and we salute him for his first goal with the club.
- Powered by a skinny moustache for the ages, Joakim Nygard tied the game up at two apiece late in the second period by parking himself in the slot and deflecting Darnell Nurse’s point shot past Ullmark. The goal came just as a power play chance was expiring but the Buffalo player wasn’t able to get back into the play on time, leaving a momentary odd-man situation that the Oilers found a way to cash in on. Nygard had himself a hell of a night as he finished with the first multi-point game of his young NHL career.
- Darnell Nurse had a big night with a pair of assists to go along with his four shots on goal and 21:54 worth of ice time.
- Was everyone else as pumped to see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as I was? Of course you were.
- Oilers finished the night at 63% in the faceoff circle and that’s the kind of total I’d like to see more often.
- The special teams were rock solid yet again as the Oilers were able to kill off every penalty they took while managing to score a power play goal of their own.
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THE FACE PALMERS
- It’s tough to win games when you’re down by two in the first 10 minutes.
- Kyle Okposo opened the scoring for the Sabres with an early first period goal after Riley Sheahan gave up the puck in his own end with a pass to no one in particular, which gave Buffalo an unnecessary scoring chance that was entirely avoidable.
- Johan Larsson put the Sabres up by two goals after a strange sequence that saw a deflected shot bounced off Smith and into the slot where it sat like a baseball on a tee. Smith got caught moving and Larsson slipped it through a wide open five-hole.
- Colin Miller finished the game off in OT after banging home the cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson. The Sabres moved the puck around the Oilers’ zone with precision and Miller’s shot beat a sprawling Mike Smith, sending the Oilers home with only a single point on a night when they definitely should have had two.
- I swear, no one hits more posts than the Oilers do even though I have absolutely nothing to base that on. Just how I feel, ya know?
- Mike Smith got the start tonight and I was looking forward to seeing how he’d rebound after a pair of tougher outings that saw him finish with .868 and .846 save% against the Canucks and Senators respectively. That said, by no means do I hang that game against Ottawa on him, he came in to relieve Mikko Koskinen but I was still eager to see him get back to playing at his best. Early on, Smith looked shaky again but he really settled himself in as the game progressed through the second period and into the third. In overtime, Smith was beaten on a nice passing play by the Sabres and it’s hard to fault him for the game winner, though I’m sure he’ll say he probably would want at least one of the three that he allowed back. Smith finished with 19 saves and a .864 save%.
- I’m not a big Joel Persson guy, I’ve decided. I think he’s soft on the puck and I don’t believe that he’s the right fit alongside Klefbom in the top four.
- Draisaitl and McDavid both held pointless. It doesn’t happen often but it did tonight.
|04:08||Buffalo||Kyle Okposo (3) ASST: Marco Scandella (5)||1-0|
|10:43||Buffalo||Johan Larsson (3) ASST: Rasmus Asplund (2), Jimmy Vesey (5)||2-0|
|08:25||Edmonton||Riley Sheahan (1) ASST: Joakim Nygard (2), Darnell Nurse (12)||2-1|
|15:56||Edmonton||PPG – Joakim Nygard (2) ASST: Darnell Nurse (13), Gaetan Haas (4)||2-2|
|01:13||Buffalo||Colin Miller (1) ASST: Jack Eichel (24), Marcus Johansson (8)||3-2|
Not a Persson person
— Tim Plamondon (@TimPlamondon) December 9, 2019
My boyfriend just inhaled bong water by accident and said that was more enjoyable than the first period.
— Kaylee Biggart (@KayleeBiggart) December 9, 2019
Oilers have been flipping it and chipping it around, passing up shots, like style points matter. Put pucks on the net and get after them. Less hot dog. More mustard.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) December 9, 2019
— ALΣX.McJ (@AlexJovanovic) December 9, 2019
— Ian (@irkushner) December 9, 2019
— El Cola Grande (@kingofcolas) December 9, 2019
Nygard putting the team on his shoulders with 1g and 1a through 40mins
— Real Steal 18 (@RPW_1832) December 9, 2019
— Joachim Chau (@joekdo) December 9, 2019
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