Oilers 3, Ducks 4 (OT)
Edmonton Oilers fought back twice to earn a point in Anaheim on Wednesday, but a new bugaboo came up to bite them on the rear end for the fifth time this season. That would be the tendency of their stars to overstay their welcome on the first shift of overtime and get burned in the second minute. Their previous four losses in OT came at 1:14, 1:13, 1:09, and 1:14, with at least one if not both of their top players stranded on the ice sucking wind after an overlong shift. The goal happened a bit later this time, at 2:05, but the key turning point came when a tired Connor McDavid took a tripping penalty at … wait for it … 1:09 of the extra frame. This just seconds after the superstar eschewed an opportunity to make a safe line change after an already-long shift.
Credit where due, McDavid first played a key role in the one point, earning secondary assists on all three Edmonton goals, but his lapse in OT proved costly. It was a ticky tack call — the kind McDavid never seems to get when he is on the receiving end of various hacks, whacks, and worse — but he did tap Sonny Milano on the thigh pad, and Milano sold it like a pro.
Milano went on to score the game winner on the subsequent powerplay, his second of the night in his Ducks debut. He was among eight players on the two teams playing their first game with a new team after a flurry of activity by both clubs at the trade deadline.
McDavid’s two new wingers, Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou, set each other up for a goal apiece, while Leon Draisaitl also connected on the powerplay. That was enough to overcome some dreadful defensive lapses that led to all three Anaheim goals in regulation. Oilers actually controlled large sections of this one, outshooting the Ducks 32-21 and holding a 17-11 advantage in Grade A scoring chances. But their defensive breakdowns tended to be major lapses and ultimately, their undoing.
#6 Adam Larsson, 5. Got on the wrong side of Milano in overtime and failed to tie up his stick, which was quickly used to tap home the game winner.
#15 Josh Archibald, 5. Stepped into Kailer Yamamoto’s spot with Draisaitl and RNH, but the trio failed to click. Arch’s energy was down a couple of quarts, but the same could be said for a significant number of Oilers on this night. Found himself replaced by Chiasson and returned to the bottom six in the third. Did chip in 2:41 on the penalty kill. 0 shots, 2 hits.
#16 Jujhar Khaira, 5. His game continues to come around as he’s been winning more battles along the walls and cycling the puck well. Had a glorious chance on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with RNH in the third, but the pass was ahead of him and he redirected it wide of the target.
#23 Riley Sheahan, 4. His bad turnover started the sequence of pain on the first Ducks goal, as his teammates played flag football behind him. 0 shot attempts and plenty of struggles making clean plays with the puck.
#25 Darnell Nurse, 3. Seemed to be lacking his usual fierceness. Burned on the second Ducks goal when he collapsed away from the slot, leaving it wide open for the goal scorer to cruise into and score easily. Also got burned on the 3-2 when he barreled into the corner and took himself right out of the play, which quickly collapsed behind him. Also beaten by a pass on the overtime winner. Not his night.
#27 Mike Green, 4. Showed the reason he was acquired on his very first shift with a crisp 30-foot breakout pass right on the tape of a teammate. For some reason he turned away from the slot on the first Ducks goal, leaving Milano carte blanche to reach out and chip a one-handed shot past Smith.
#28 Andreas Athanasiou, 7. Made a good impression in his Oilers debut with a goal and an assist. Made a lovely pass through a defender’s skates and right on to the tape of Ennis for the first Edmonton tally, then scored the third himself when he went hard to the net front and was able to find the puck that had trickled through John Gibson and tap it home with just 4:35 left in regulation. Was a little too deferential on one play when hye twice had the puck in good shooting position but chose to pass it off both times.
#29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. Dangerous all night with 10 shot attempts, one of which found twine when he buried his 37th of the year and 13th on the powerplay to tie the game at 2. Rang another rocket off the iron, and had a third from point blank range blocked by a hero play by Hampus Lindholm. Even without sparkplug Kailer Yamamoto his line controlled play and shot shares. Another heavy workload on the dot, where he posted 14/24=58%. But, his soft defensive coverage was part of the problem on two Ducks goals and ruined what was otherwise a pretty good night. Did make the highlight reels with a mind-boggling reaction play to control a puck that was shot behind him inside the blueline. Played 23:57 to lead all forwards.
#39 Alex Chiasson, 5. Chipped in on 3 Oilers scoring chances, all of them on the powerplay where he does his best work. One a pass in tight to the net, one a goalie screen, one a short-trange shot which he tried to jam home from inside the blue paint. In other words, business as usual for the rangy French Canadian. Quiet at even strength, though, and seemed out of synch when he got promoted to the Drai-Nuge line in the third.
#41 Mike Smith, 5. Just so-so. While he could sue for non-support on several Ducks goals, he was at least partly at fault on the first with a mis-timed poke check just as the shooter chipped the puck past his blocker hand. Not enough big saves, though he did deliver a critical one with 90 seconds left in regulation when he stuffed Michael Del Zotto’s redirection from the edge of the blue paint. 21 shots, 17 saves, .810 save percentage.
#52 Patrick Russell, 5. One ugly turnover led to a dangerous shot against, but he also chipped in on two good looks at the offensive end. His usual strong work along the walls.
#60 Markus Granlund, 4. If his assignment was to make 7 minutes of the game disappear without incident, mission accomplished. Did the little things right, and the big things not at all.
#63 Tyler Ennis, 8. Edmonton native and Knights of Columbus grad had a standout performance in his Oilers debut. Skated hard and with purpose with and without the puck. Went hard to the net and made an expert deflection of Athanasiou’s pass to give Edmonton life at 2-1 down. Enabled the tying goal with a hard outside rush and shot which probably should have been stopped and held, but wasn’t, allowing A.A. to chip the rebound home. Led the Oilers in shots (4) and hits (3).
#74 Ethan Bear, 6. Has taken his game to another level in recent times, consuming monster minutes (26:51 in this one) while assuming additional responsibility in the absence of Oscar Klefbom. Clearly the d-corps’ top puckmover at this point in time. He put on a master class in playing the point on a third period powerplay, roaming the full width of the line to handle several passes and a couple of clearing attempts, keeping the puck in and the pressure on, which eventually resulted in the 2-2 goal. Chipped in on 6 Grade A scoring chances for the Oilers. Was among those burned on 2 different Ducks goals, but it was a more a matter of being unable to put out the fire than actually starting it.
#82 Caleb Jones, 6. Nearly scored from the lip of the crease and drew a penalty in the attempt. Took a punition of his own for a needless hold in the corner. Is playing with more confidence by the week and imposing his considerable strengths — mobility, puck movement — on large portions of each game.
#84 William Lagesson, 5. Surprise starter in the eyes of some, who thought him to be the logical choice to come out in favour of Green. Instead he partnered with Green as Matt Benning drew the short straw. He too is looking more comfortable as he gains experience, making decent outlet passes and firing his sneaky hard wrist shot from unexpected spots. But an apparent miscommunication between him and Green was a contributor to the first Anaheim goal.
#91 Gaetan Haas, 5. Played 8:38 during which not a lot happened. Did manage one decent jam shot from very close range.
#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. Jumped on McDavid’s deflected pass right in the slot, but made the quick decision to quickly move the disc to Draisaitl, who buried it. Fired 4 shots of his own and did some good work on the penalty kill. Never saw the ice in overtime.
#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Found some chemistry with his new linemates, even as there’s work to be done. Made one area pass to an spot Athanasiou had already skated through, suggesting there’s a speed adjustment that needs to be fine-tuned. Assisted on all three Edmonton goals, secondaries all, but he got the puck into good places for others to finish the job. His hands weren’t at their best, as he had a couple of uncharacteristic bobbles and whiffs. Chipped in on a whopping 11 Grade A scoring chances for the Oilers Also posted a stellar 11/13=85% on the dot. Made one stellar defensive stop to thwart a backdoor play, but made a critical mistake in the last 90 seconds of regulation when he lost track of his man, Michael Del Zotto, who burst free to the edge of the crease for a great chance at would have been a killer goal-against. Drew one penalty but it could have been three or four, given he was spilled by one defender who got his stick between 97’s legs, and taken down by a diving Josh Manson on a would-be breakaway. But when McDavid was on the other end of a borderline call, the stripes didn’t hesitate. In overtime… and that was all she wrote.
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