There it was, on a silver platter.
A chance for a losing team to build on its first win in eight games, Saturday’s heartening 5-3 victory over Calgary still coursing through the veins. An opportunity to build some momentum against a Vancouver team in the throes of a COVID-19 shortage, ripe for a home loss against what was supposed to be a confident Oilers club.
This should be easy, right?
What? The Canucks are starting Spencer Martin in goal?
Piece of cake, right?
Down 2-0 with less than 15 minutes to play on Tuesday, Ryan McLeod slipped a shot between Martin and the near post. It was Martin’s only mistake on a 50-shot night, but by the time they were done the Oilers had fought back for a 3-2 overtime victory.
In recent losing streaks of six and seven games, it was usually Edmonton’s netminder who would surrender that queasy goal at an important moment. But now, after winning two straight games, if ever you wanted evidence that perhaps Edmonton’s luck has turned, look no further than the smelly goal that opened the floodgates in Vancouver.
“It’s 16 games. It’s tough to blame it all on bounces,” Connor McDavid admitted of their woes of late. “We weren’t playing our best hockey, but bounces do go a long way, and ‘Clouder found a way to sneak one through.”
“(Martin) was playing unbelievable, shutting the door all game,” said McLeod, who has five goals in 27 games this season. “It’s just the little squeaker ones that go in first and open the door for the rest of the guys. Early in the shift, I had a chance to shoot and I made a pass. They’ve been telling me to shoot a little more. I decided to shoot.”
From there the Oilers dominated a Canucks team that has been gutted by COVID cases, showing up to play Tuesday with no Bo Horvat, no Tanner Pearson, no Conor Garland and neither of the goaltending tandem of Thatcher Demko nor Jaro Halak.
Cue Martin, the third-stringer who faced an even 50 shots and held Edmonton to two regulation goals. He had preceded McLeod with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and played against Connor McDavid back in their minor hockey days around the GTA. So the Oilers knew of him, if not how to beat him through the opening 45 minutes.
But once McLeod broke the seal, you could see Edmonton gain life. The Oilers outshot Vancouver 15-9 in the third period and 9-1 in overtime. Leon Draisaitl’s 29th tied the game halfway through the third off a lovely pass by the returning Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and McDavid scored his first since Dec. 31 to capture the second point in overtime.
The Oilers captain has been slumping for a few weeks. The jump has been there, just not the usual production.
“I’ve been a bit snake bit,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting my chances, but haven’t been able to put one away. It was nice to be able to contribute and find a way to score a goal.”
Nice to win two straight, something the Oilers last did in the two games between six- and seven-game losing streaks. They are still right in thick of the Pacific Division race with half a season to go, but only if they can win a goodly share of their games in hand.
“It’s important — we want to get on a little roll here. That’s the main focus,” said McDavid, whose team faces Nashville on Thursday before hitting the road for Montreal, Ottawa and Washington. “It was a big win on Saturday, it’s a big win tonight. We’ve got to keep marching forward.”
It was the second straight game that Edmonton fell behind 2-0 and then battled back to win. “Not exactly a recipe for success,” said McDavid.
They still never score first — this was the 10th straight game and 25th of 28 games they’ve gone down 1-0 — but give the Oilers credit. They dominated this hockey game, outshooting Vancouver 50-27 while garnering 62.5 percent of scoring chances and 81.25 percent of the high danger scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Meanwhile, Mikko Koskinen was his usual self in goal. And by that we mean you wondered about one goal, an Elias Pettersson snapper from the outside edge of the circle, but he stopped Tyler Motte on a crucial short-handed breakaway that immediately preceded Draisaitl’s game-tying goal.
In the end Koskinen allowed two, and in a 3-2 league his team won by that exact score. Consider it a game well goaltended.
Blues' head coach Craig Berube addresses Nazem Kadri threats: 'It's not a good thing' – The Athletic
St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube denounced social media threats made toward Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri Wednesday, days after the coach said he had ‘no comment‘ when he was first asked about them Monday.
“I’m not on social media. I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff,” Berube told the media Wednesday. “In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that. Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it.
“It’s not a good thing. So I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”
Kadri was subjected to racist comments and threats on social media following a collision with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during Game 3 of the Blues-Avalanche second-round series. Following the game, Binnington threw a water bottle at Kadri as the Avs forward was being interviewed by TNT.
In Game 4, Kadri scored a hat-trick en route to a 6-3 Avalanche win over the Blues. Colorado can eliminate St. Louis Wednesday night in Game 5 with a victory.
(Top photo: Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images)
Instigator call the turning point in Rangers’ Game 4 win over Hurricanes – Sportsnet.ca
Yep. They picked up right where they left off.
Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes ended with tensions high and there was some obvious carryover into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden that saw the Blue Shirts even the series with a 4-1 victory.
Whistles were few and far in between during a frenetic first half of the opening period as both teams traded chances. The Rangers controlled much of the high-paced action and eventually began winning more puck battles than the Hurricanes.
Then the key turning point of Game 4 occurred.
Jacob Trouba absolutely walloped Max Domi near the penalty boxes with a hard hit at the 11:38 mark.
Steven Lorentz was in the vicinity when the open-ice hit was delivered. Instead of merely taking Trouba’s number, Lorentz immediately came to the defence of his teammate and dropped the mitts with Trouba in a rare playoff scrap.
Trouba unquestionably contacted Domi’s head, just as the Hurricanes’ forward’s feet were sliding out from beneath him mind you, yet the officials deemed it a clean hit.
The sequence resulted in an instigator call on Lorentz.
Carolina’s bench, plus head coach Rod Brind’Amour, were visibly upset when Trouba only received five for fighting.
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant told the broadcast at the first intermission “it was a great hit” before adding “Domi had his head down a little bit.”
Domi, of course, was involved in the rough stuff at the end of that heated Game 3 over the weekend.
The instigator call certainly seemed to affect the Hurricanes on the penalty kill and the Rangers capitalized with Lorentz in his team’s locker room as part of the 2-5-10 he was assessed.
Carolina was relatively sloppy while a man down and a turnover in their own end led to a missed opportunity to clear the zone. That led to Adam Fox patiently making a cross-ice saucer pass to Andrew Copp who neatly slide the puck to Frank Vatrano and the winger beat Antti Raanta low glove to open the scoring.
Brind’Amour, while wanting his players to be more disciplined, was fairly subdued in his post-game comments. He did mention he thought Trouba should’ve been given a cross-checking minor for getting his stick up on Lorentz prior to the brief punch-up.
“We’re not out there to catch guys (with their heads down) or play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said of Trouba’s hit after the game. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we’re there and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two minutes changed the course of the game. … It’s not headhunting at all. It’s a good hit and their response warranted a penalty.”
Copp added his second assist of the period moments later when Fox, who leapfrogged Cale Makar for the active post-season lead in points among blueliners, tipped in his fourth of the playoffs on a Ryan Lindgren shot.
Lindgren, who has been excellent for the Rangers since returning to the lineup, was named the second star thanks to his two-assist night. Copp and Vatrano, both acquired in March trades, were named first and third stars of the game, respectively.
While there’s plenty of blame to go around on the Carolina side of the equation, Raanta’s performance is not why the series is even as it shifts back to PNC Arena.
Raanta did allow four goals on 28 shots, sure, however he also made a handful of highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.
Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin were both separately stopped by Raanta on breakaway backhand deke attempts and he flashed the leather on Chris Kreider, yet his best of the night was against Mika Zibanejad.
The bigger concern for Carolina continued to be the lacklustre power play. It was only 5-for-43 in the playoffs prior to Game 4 where the issues persisted.
Carolina didn’t have trouble entering the zone when a man up. It’s just they couldn’t do much beyond moving the puck around the perimeter once the zone was established.
Their first man advantage of Game 4 occurred midway through the second period although the best scoring chance and only shot on goal during that PP was generated by the Rangers.
Brind’Amour’s group couldn’t get anything going with Lafreniere in the box serving a goalie interference minor early in the final frame either and they finished the night 0-for-2.
The Hurricanes were down by three goals heading into the third period and to say putting three behind Ilya Shesterkin in a single period is a tall task would be an understatement.
The soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner had his shutout bid ended by Teuvo Teravainen in the third but that’s all Carolina could muster.
Brind’Amour didn’t even bother pulling his goalie in the final few minutes with the score 4-1.
There was some more pushing and shoving at the final horn with Ryan Reeves giving Domi the business – which was likely more fallout from the Game 3 rough stuff – but nothing escalated further.
The Hurricanes are winless on the road this post-season but perfect at home so they’ll appreciate Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.
This series is now officially a best-of-three.
Oilers push Flames to brink of elimination behind Nugent-Hopkins, Kane's 4 combined goals – CBC Sports
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the night with 3:27 left in regulation as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ second-round playoff series.
Evander Kane, with his NHL-best 11th and 12th of the post-season, and Zach Hyman had the other goals for Edmonton, which got 29 saves from Mike Smith. Leon Draisaitl added three assists.
Connor McDavid also had two assists to give him a league-topping 25 points in 11 playoff outings this spring for the Oilers, who kept their foot on the gas with a third straight victory over their provincial rival.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 shots.
“The main thing was that we had to keep pushing,” Nugent-Hopkins said after Rasmus Andersson scored short-handed from 150 feet away to claw the visitors all the way back from a 3-0 deficit. “Stuff like that happens, it’s hockey. Bounces happen.
“There was no quit.”
Edmonton interim head coach Jay Woodcroft credited Nugent-Hopkins, who was playing just the 32nd playoff game of his 11-season career, for stepping up with the team wobbling.
“It’s inspiring,” said Woodcroft, whose Oilers are now one win from making the Western Conference final for the first time since 2006. “There’s room for greatness from everybody on our team.
“Tonight was Ryan’s moment.”
After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 3-2 through 40 minutes, Calgary improbably knotted things in the third on an Edmonton power play when Andersson fired a 150-foot clearing attempt from his own end that somehow fooled Smith at 10:56 and stunned Rogers Place.
WATCH | Flames’ Andersson scores short-handed goal from distance:
But with the Oilers wobbling, Nugent-Hopkins shovelled home his fourth of the playoffs from Markstrom’s doorstep to send the nervous crowd into a frenzy.
Andersson then took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 2:40 left to effectively kill off the game before Kane iced it into an empty net.
“I can laugh now, right?” a relieved Smith said as throngs of Edmonton fans cheered wildly on the street outside the Oilers Hall of Fame Room where the team conducts its media availabilities. “I don’t think there’s been a time in my career where I’ve lost the puck, where I have no idea where it went.
“You don’t want that to happen … ever. It was an unbelievable goal by Nuge at the end there … a win is a win.”
WATCH | Nugent-Hopkins leads Oilers to big victory over Flames:
Edmonton also held a 2-1 series lead in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings only to play what the Oilers described as their worst performance of the month in a 4-0 loss.
They won’t be thrilled with this Game 4 either, but got the victory for a stranglehold on the series.
“We all believe in this group,” Andersson said. “We’ve been a good team all year and we’ve been strong on home ice. We’ve just got to go home and focus on winning one game and take it from there.
“Obviously we’re in a tough situation.”
Markstrom’s struggles, Oilers’ early lead
Markstrom, who had allowed 14 goals in the series before getting pulled after two periods with Calgary trailing Sunday’s Game 3 by a 4-0 score line, played the puck behind his own net on the first shift, but put it right on Nugent-Hopkins’ stick for him to bury his third inside a deafening arena.
The goal was the third-fastest in Oilers’ playoff history, just short of McDavid (19 seconds in 2020) and Fernando Pisani (16 seconds in 2006).
Calgary winger Tyler Toffoli then took a tripping penalty and the Oilers made the visitors pay when Hyman outmuscled a hobbled Chris Tanev — back in the lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the opening round despite a suspected upper-body injury — in tight to bury his fifth goal of the series and seventh of the playoffs at 9:53.
The Flames, who topped the Pacific Division in the regular season, pushed back with a couple of decent shifts, but Kane, who was coming off a natural hat trick in Game 3, made it 3-0 with 66 seconds remaining in the period on a shot that nicked off blue-liner Nikita Zadorov.
Calgary finally showed some life on slick power play in the second with Kane off for slashing, and Lindholm eventually picked the top corner for his fifth at 9:04 after the Oilers twice failed to clear the defensive zone.
Backlund got the Flames within one at 3-2 just 36 seconds later when he stepped past Duncan Keith and fired his fourth past Smith.
Smith made a good stop on a Lindholm power-play chance early in the third before the home side got its second man-advantage with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Markstrom kept his team within striking distance with a terrific pad stop on Draisaitl, who became the first player in NHL history to register three-plus points in four straight playoff games with an assist on the Oilers’ empty-net goal.
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