Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Game 3 - A Two Man Show

On an evening in which Connor McDavid potted the first goal of his career, the Edmonton Oilers were badly outclassed by the Dallas Stars. While a final score of 4-2 may suggest a different story, in actuality it was the performance of netminder Anders Nilsson that kept this one from being a blowout. 

The former New York Islanders third round pick was kept busy from start to finish, facing 51 shots in his Oilers debut and gave his team a chance at pulling out points from a game they had no business being in. Unfortunately for Nilsson, he would love a mulligan on two of the three goals he allowed. With that said, taking issue with a 48-save performance from your backup goalie seems kind of silly. 

Had the Oilers actually remembered to show up for last night’s tilt with the Stars, they would have likely been heading home from their three-game road swing with their first win of the season firmly planted in their pocket. While Edmonton’s goaltending put them firmly behind the eight-ball to start each of the previous two seasons, the duo of Nilsson and Cam Talbot have done the complete opposite. 

And yet the results continue to be the same. Outside of a ninety-second stretch during the second period in which McDavid and Oscar Klefbom erased a two-goal deficit, the Oilers barely tested starter Kari Lehtonen. While they showed a flicker of life over the final ten minutes of period two, Edmonton was a complete no-show over the final twenty minutes of play. 

Despite being outshot 20-6 in the third, Nail Yakupov had an opportunity to give the Oilers the lead with five minutes to go but was turned aside by Leftonen on a clear-cut breakaway. It certainly was an opportunity missed but one that came as no real surprise. With the exception of the McDavid - Benoit Pouliot - Yakupov line, the other nine forwards didn’t accomplish much of anything. 

After solid showings against both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators to kick off their 2015-16 campaign, this was certainly a step back for Todd McLellan’s side. From a scheduling standpoint, the league did not do the Oilers any favours in having them play five of their first six games on the road but that is the hand they were dealt. Surviving the opening month of the season was never going to be easy. 

Add to that the fact they are without Jordan Eberle and the lack of points in the standings should surprise no one. However, this group is nowhere near good enough to survive the sort of performance they gave in Dallas. No one said this was going to be easy, but these players have to give themselves a fighting chance. Hopefully, they can right the ship in time for Thursday’s home-opener against the Blues because you can bet Ken Hitchcock’s side will be looking to pounce from the drop of the puck. 

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