Edmontonians were guzzling champagne, lighting fireworks and blasting noise makers all over town Tuesday night.
Plus, it was also New Year’s Eve.
With all due respect to the turn of the decade, the 60 minutes of chaos at Rogers Place stole the celebration spotlight for hockey fans in Edmonton.
First, they were dancing in the aisles as the Oilers crawled out of their month-long funk to take a 6-0 lead on the visiting New York Rangers, then they were falling to their knees and giving thanks after they survived what would have been a catastrophic and historic third period collapse.
Somehow, in a stunning turn of events the Oilers still can’t fully explain, and don’t really want to, they let a 6-0 lead after 39 minutes deteriorate into 6-5 with 3:45 to play.
“We came out hard and strong in the first two periods and then we kind of sat back,” said Josh Archibald, whose goal to make it 6-0 at 15:04 of the second period somehow turned out to be the winner in a 7-5 thriller.
“We didn’t play our game, we were sitting back in our own zone waiting for them to pass the puck instead of going at them and playing our game.”
And the result was as mind-numbing as anything we’ve seen from this team in years. Maybe ever, considering that no club in the 102-year history of the NHL has ever come back to win after trailing 6-0.
“When I scored (to make it 6-0), I never would have thought that would have been the game winning goal,” said Archibald.
No kidding. It wasn’t until Kailer Yamamoto slide one into an empty net at 18:53 that anyone could exhale.
“At the end of the day we won the game,” said James Neal, who had a hat-trick in the win. “We’ll never turn down two points. You just move on and take the positives out of the game.
“The first two periods were really good, our special teams were good, I really liked our start. Obviously our mind wandered in the third and we kind of got ahead of ourselves in the third. It’s a fast league and that’s what happens sometimes. It’s a good win.”
They started out exactly how the Oilers wanted. It was as if all the things that have been ailing them in December were cured in 40 minutes.
Slow starts? Neal makes it 1-0 at 11 seconds.
Over passing? Oscar Klefbom floats a harmless looking point shot that Neal deflects in to make it 2-0.
Costly lulls? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deflects another one home to make it 3-0 Oilers at the first intermission.
Leon Draisaitl playing like (bleep)? He scores a back-breaker in the second period.
Power play losing steam? James Neal completes the hat-trick on Edmonton’s third power play goal of the night.
Secondary scoring? Josh Archibald makes it 6-0 with Edmonton’s third goal in less than four minutes.
It was over. The Rangers were dead and buried.
Right up until they weren’t.
Chris Kreider scored in the final minute of the second period. No big deal.
Ryan Strome scored at 4:48 of the third. Oh well.
Then Marc Stall at 11:29 and Artemi Panarin at 11:29 and 12:07 struck fear in the hearts of everyone in the building.
When Mike Zibanejad made it 6-5, you could have heard a pin drop.
“You try to stay calm,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who had a four-point night. “We played so well in the first couple of periods. When it’s going like that, you just have to stay calm and remain confident in what we can do.
“We got a little passive in the third. They have some high end skill that will make you pay if you sit back too much, but at the end of the day we got the two points and we’re happy with the win.”
It got crazy, and it very nearly turned into something they might have never recovered from, but all they’re going to focus on is the final score.
“We weren’t saying the sky was falling in, that’s for sure,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “We were just saying play, make some good plays. When a team is down 6-1 they are just throwing everything at the net.
“We made a couple of mistakes and they got some momentum and it starts running. But there was no panic on the bench. It was just get the job done, and we got the job done.
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Raptors’ Powell to return vs. Hornets; Ibaka, VanVleet out with injury – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Raptors will be without Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet when they take on the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, however Norman Powell will make his return from injury, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game.
Nurse also stated that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Powell will start in place of VanVleet and Ibaka.
Ibaka was previously listed as doubtful due to right knee soreness. He struggled in Toronto’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, finishing with five points on an abysmal 2-for-15 shooting, including a 1-for-10 mark from three-point range.
Overall, the 30-year-old has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2019-20. He’s averaging a career-best 15.9 points to go along with 8.0 rebounds per game.
VanVleet had not previously been on the injury report, however he is also listed as out due to left shoulder pain.
The 26-year-old is averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game in 48 appearances this year.
Powell, who hasn’t played since Jan. 31 due to a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand, figures to shoulder a heavy minutes load right off the bat due to VanVleet’s absence.
Earlier this season, Powell also missed a stretch of 11 games after dislocating his shoulder.
Through 38 games this year, the 26-year-old is averaging a career-high 15.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
The Raptors will also be without Marc Gasol, who continues to be sidelined with a left hamstring injury.
Zamboni driver turned NHL goalie David Ayres given his own hockey card – CTV News
The Toronto-area Zamboni driver who became famous after suiting up at the last minute for the Carolina Hurricanes has now been awarded a hockey card in his honour.
David Ayres, a 42-year-old from Whitby, Ont., joined the Hurricanes as an emergency goalie on Saturday after both their regular goalies left the game due to injury. Ayres went on to make eight saves on 10 shots to help the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3.
Since the win, Ayres has become an internet sensation, leading to appearances on the TODAY show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, to name a few. He was went to Raleigh, N.C., where he celebrated “David Ayres Day” in the city by signing autographs from Hurricanes fans and ringing the “siren sounder” before the game.
The stick Ayres used in the game has also been sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame, due to the fact he is now the oldest goalie to win in their NHL debut and the only emergency goalie to ever record an official win in the league.
Ayres’ 15 minutes of fame is not yet over, however, as the trading card company Upper Deck has created a hockey card in his name.
“When we saw the moment, we were blown away by how special it was,” Chris Carlin, head of customer experience at Upper Deck, said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.
Ayers is featured in Upper Deck’s “Game Dated Moments” collection, which are cards unveiled on a weekly-basis that highlight notable performances from the past week. Ayres’ card features him standing in the Hurricanes’ net, wearing the team’s jersey and Maple Leafs equipment, while the back of the card tells the story of the game.
Other cards in Ayres’ pack include an Alexander Ovechkin card highlighting his 700th career goal and one about Los Angeles Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi, who scored his first NHL goal just 10 seconds into his first shift.
Carlin said the cards for each week are chosen based on fan requests and that calls for an Ayers card were “like something we’ve never seen before.” It’s already one of their top-performing weekly designs.
“We knew it was a special moment, so it was important for us to dedicate all the resources we had to acquiesce to our fans,” he said.
“There is surprisingly huge demand for a 42-year-old rookie.”
Creating the card didn’t come without its own challenges, however. Because Ayres is not a member of the NHL Players Association, Upper Deck had to secure a deal with Ayres directly for permission to make the card.
“I was surprised myself that we were able to get this done in three days,” Carlin said. “Our window is so tight on these ‘Game Dated Moments’ cards that it’s really a tough one to get done. It’s not the hardest thing to go out and get an image rights deal with someone, but to get it done within three days is pretty much unheard of.”
Carlin said Ayres will also have a “Young Guns” rookie card in his name, which is set for release in mid-May and some autographed cards at a later date.
“We disputed perhaps calling it an ‘old guns’ given his age, because typically the players are anywhere from 18 to 20,” he joked.
Carlin added certain versions of Ayers’ rookie card will only be printed 10 or 100 times, meaning they could hold some serious value.
Oilers' Green (sprained MCL) out 3-4 weeks – TSN
EDMONTON — Newly acquired Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green will miss three to four weeks with a knee injury.
The Oilers announced Friday that Green has a sprained MCL. He was hurt in a loss against Vegas on Wednesday.
The Oilers acquired Green in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings early Monday, hours before the NHL’s trade deadline.
Green was playing his second game with the Oilers when he suffered the injury.
The 34-year-old Calgary native has three goals and eight assists in 50 combined games with Detroit and Edmonton this season.
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, Kailer Yamamoto and Kris Russell will be game-time decisions tomorrow after being re-evaluated. Both players took regular reps in practice.
Trade deadline acquisition Andreas Athanasiou, who left last game with a lower-body injury, is good to go. James Neal skated but is still a ways away from playing and defenceman Oscar Klefbom didn’t skate with the main group.
Zack Kassian returns tomorrow from a seven-game suspension and Mike Smith is expected to start on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers (33-23-8) entered Friday night’s action holding the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.
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