Riley Sheahan, come on down! Final Score: 4-3 Oilers
With the way last week’s game against the Leafs ended, I didn’t know I could handle another night of having our barn taken over by opposing fans only to watch them have the time of their lives while the hometown faithful was left wondering what the hell is going on. Despite what the numbers say or how poorly the team has played over the past few weeks, I believed that the Oilers would find a way to get themselves back in the win column and save us all the embarrassment of another nationally televised loss. Not only that, tonight’s game offered the opportunity to toss away last night’s debacle and try to build some positive vibes around the club as they played their last home game before the Christmas break. I believed it could be done, but Gord knows I’ve been wrong before.
Much to our collective delight, the Oilers got the start they wanted as Connor and Leon provided an early goal and set them up with a lead while Josh Archibald was able to extend it to two goals only a few minutes later. It was the kind of start that we hadn’t seen in a while and enough to make me feel like we were going to be in for a fun night. Unfortunately, the good vibes stopped about mid-way through the frame when the Oilers gave up a shortie to Jeff Petry that really seemed to swing the momentum. In the second period, it was all Montreal for the first 15 minutes as the Oilers could barely clear their own zone let alone get anything done at the other end of the ice. So when the Habs clawed their way out of the hole and tied things up, it wasn’t exactly surprising considering how tilted the ice was in their favour. The bright side is that the Habs weren’t able to pull ahead on the scoreboard despite the plethora of chances they produced, which allowed a crack in the door that Connor McDavid kicked wide open with a highlight reel goal that gave his team back the lead.
Heading into the third period up by a goal, the Oilers were going to have to do a much better job than what we saw from them in the second because they were playing with fire with the way they allowed Montreal to do basically whatever they wanted with the puck. Unfortunately, Edmonton saw their lead disappear for the second time as they allowed Montreal the time and space needed to generate all kinds of offensive pressure and shots on goal, ultimately culminating in a ridiculous tying goal by Max Domi. If I’m being honest, I thought that goal was when the tides were going to turn completely in Montreal’s favour. The good news that the Oilers were resilient and managed to counter with another goal of their own, reclaiming the lead for the third and final time with a clutch goal by Riley Sheahan. And while nobody would say that this is the prettiest win, you have to admire the way they were able to bend without breaking and close out the victory anyway. Those are two big points that this team desperately needed.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers (1-0) on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 with the captain after he and Connor were reunited on the first line and wasted no time taking advantage of it. Draisaitl has taken a lot of shit over the last week or so, Tippett called him out specifically after going -4 in last night’s game against the Penguins, and I was looking for him to get back to being the warlord that took the NHL by storm in October and November.
- After a dogged shift in the offensive zone, the third (fourth?) line came up with a big goal as Josh Archibald deflected a hard shot/pass from Ethan Bear in the slot that beat Carey Price up high and increased the Oilers’ lead to two goals (2-0). Archibald may not score a tonne but I really like watching the guy play as he always seems to be mixing it up and trying to fight above his weight class.
- Right when it felt like the wheels were going to fall off this game entirely, Connor McDavid puts up another highlight reel goal on the power play after picking up the puck in full flight and leaving everyone in a white jersey in his wake. It was one of those goals where you saw just hot unstoppable he is at full speed and it’s a highlight that I’ll be watching over and over again.
- For the second straight game, Riley Sheahan found the back of the net for the Oilers as he and Josh Archibald executed a perfect 2-on-1 that Carey Price had no chance of stopping. Leading up to the odd-man rush, the Canadiens were buzzing in the Oilers zone but our boys got a bounce that allowed them to clear and turn things around with a quality chance that Sheahan would bury.
- Mikko Koskinen took to the crease for the 23rd time tonight as he looked to continue his fun of fine play and backstop his team to a much-needed victory. And while his stats for tonight’s game aren’t anything to write home about, he made the extra save that Price was unable to and it ended up being the difference. Considering both sides fired 26 shots on goal, we have a direct comparison between the two keepers and it was Koskinen that came up victorious. Despite this not being a perfect game for the big man and I’m sure he’d want that first goal back, but he made enough saves to win and that’s all that matters. Koskinen finished the night with 23 saves and a .885 save%. Also, did anybody else laugh out loud when Mikko went for the empty netter? I loved it!
- It was another huge night for Oscar Klefbom on the blue line as the former 19th overall pick finished the night with 28:05 on the ice, two shots on goal, four blocks and a takeaway.
- I know I mentioned them both above, but I wanted to give another shout to Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan tonight for their consistent hustle and I was pumped to see them both rewarded with goals.
- After going scoreless on the power play over their last two games, the boys were able to cash in a clutch goal on the power play which (temporarily) gave them back the lead at the end of the second period.
- Oilers finished the night at 52% in the faceoff circle, which was significantly better than the 45% they got last night against Pittsburgh.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jeff Petry brought the Habs back to within a single goal (2-1) after roofing a shorthanded marker on an odd-man rush that came as a result of the Oilers turning it over near the opposing blue line yet again. Are you surprised that Petry finished the night with three points? You’re not, are you?
- Philip Danault tied the game up at two apiece on the power play with a perfectly tipped shot from the slot that Koskinen couldn’t pick up on the redirection. Adding salt to the wound, it was Jeff Petry’s point shot that was tipped and it gave the former Oiler two points on the night.
- Max Domi tied the game up at three with a highlight reel goal that we’re probably going to have to see a bunch of times as he completely undressed Darnell Nurse before beating Koskinen low to the far side.
- Oh lawd that second period was uuuuuuuuuugly. To be honest, the Oilers were damned lucky to finish that period with a lead because the Canadiens were absolutely dominant, often pinning Edmonton in their own zone for shifts at a time.
- I feel weird being critical of one of the best power plays in the NHL, but I think they’re trying to work that cross-ice pass too often right now. Over the past few games, the opposition has been watching for that pass and have intercepted plenty of them which is something that didn’t happen in the early part of the season. I know they got a big PP goal tonight when they needed it, but I still can’t help but feel like they need to add a few more pitches to the arsenal if that makes sense.
- The Canadiens only got one power play chance tonight but they were able to convert on it, continuing the tough stretch the Oilers are working through with their PK over the past week or so.
|01:30||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (22) ASST: Connor McDavid (40), Zack Kassian (13)||0-1|
|11:51||Edmonton||Josh Archibald (2) ASST: Ethan Bear (8), Joakim Nygard (4)||0-2|
|14:19||Montreal||SHG – Jeff Petry (4)||1-2|
|08:29||Montreal||PPG – Phillip Danault (8) ASST: Jeff Petry (14), Nick Suzuki (10)||2-2|
|15:40||Edmonton||PPG – Connor McDavid (21) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (38), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13)||2-3|
|01:09||Montreal||Max Domi (8) ASST: Artturi Lehkonen (10), Jeff Petry (15)||3-3|
|07:48||Edmonton||Riley Sheahan (3) ASST: Josh Archibald (2)||3-4|
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) December 22, 2019
I mean, Petry is topical but (pours whiskey) I have things to say about Miro Satan
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 22, 2019
Immunizations; but instead of needles it's just a room where people medically administer Arby's to me while I sit in a hot tub pic.twitter.com/lLorvzlMGQ
— Danny Tatro (@DannyTatro12) December 22, 2019
Connor is the best. He will always be the best. The end.
— Arch (@Archaeologuy) December 22, 2019
We didn't need Petry we had Schultz.. we didn't need Schultz because he didn't win a Noris. It all worked out in the end duh!
— The Mad Hatter (@samakehurst91) December 22, 2019
Watching McDavid is just unreal
— Jillian Fisher (@FisherJillian) December 22, 2019
— Andolf (@AndolfAlberta) December 22, 2019
How could we not? Get your Bear Season tee exclusively at NationGear.ca.