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Oilers 2, Islanders 1 (OT): Patient Edmonton hangs on till McDavid winner

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Eberle scores against his old squad, but the Oilers survived to overtime, McDavid time

Edmonton Oilers v New York Islanders
I’m innocent, he’s just stretching.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Connor McDavid scored 38 seconds into overtime to give the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 win in a low-scoring but exciting game the Islanders had a decent claim to win. Cam Talbot helped deny the home team with 36 saves, including 13 in the third period.

The Oilers were beginning a four-game road trip amid a struggling start that already has ignited talk of changes on the roster or behind the bench after last season’s playoff run created so much hope.

The Islanders were closing a brief home stretch before heading to the Central for back-to-back games in Dallas and St. Louis this weekend.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | Corsica | HockeyViz]

First Period: No goals, but much fun

The first period was scoreless but hardly uneventful. The Isles were buzzing to start the game, the Oilers slow to get going, but things leveled off in the rest of the first frame.

In a matchup between two heralded first overall picks, it was actually not John Tavares but Mathew Barzal whose encounters with Connor McDavid were most interesting. He held his check closely on assignments but McDavid muscled him off in the neutral zone on one exchange. Later, Barzal encountered McDavid in the neutral zone and simply chipped the puck around him, regained it and took it into the zone to set up Anders Lee with a golden scoring chance, stopped by Cam Talbot.

Earlier Barzal, who was again the most noticeable Islander on the ice, had undressed Oscar Klefbom a handful of times before running out of room to do anything beyond a low shot on Talbot.

The Isles had one power play and the Oilers two — the second one straddling the first intermission -- all three from tripping penalties. Though each team threatened, ultimately nothing to show for them.

Second Period: Deadlock, still fun

The Isles killed the rest of the power play and then the fun resumed.

Right after Brock Nelson’s wrist shot re-introduced itself with a zinger that went off the post on Talbot’s stick-side, Jason Chimera was pokechecked from behind at the offensive blueline by Milan Lucic to create a solo breakaway for Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl elected for the quick surprise shot as he caught up to the puck just short of the hashmarks in the Isles zone, catching Thomas Greiss before he fully set.

That gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead, but the lead lasted under three minutes. Barzal extended his point streak by gaining the zone and dropping an against-the-grain pass to Jordan Eberle, who sniped high for an equalizer against his former team.

The Isles had a terrible, lethargic power play late in the period after Eric Gryba sent Nikolay Kulemin awkwardly into the boards. Kulemin immediately went to the bench, then off the ice dangling his left arm, and didn’t return. On the ensuing power play, it took a very strong defensive play by Ryan Pulock on a one-on-one against McDavid to keep the Oilers off the board at the end of it.

If the knock on Pulock has been defensive play and mobility, he showed zero weakness while staring down the most dangerous player in the league. (Granted, the guidebook on playing a one-on-one is fairly standard, but still.)

Third Period: We from different conferences share the spoils

The third period was predictably tighter, with these two inter-conference opponents increasingly seeing the chance to guarantee a point and take their chances on a second. That meant, in many instances, an increasingly less entertaining game compared to the first two periods.

But the Islanders steadily stepped up the pressure and ended up outshooting the Oilers 13-2 in the period. It was their best period, alas it was Talbot’s best, too.

One scary moment against that flow, however, was a two-on-one with Zach Kassian and Draisaitl against Calvin de Haan, which Kassian took himself down below the goal line and tried to tuck in behind Greiss. Credit to de Haan for obstructing the passing lane in convincing fashion, and Greiss for holding firm against Kassian’s trickery.

Surprisingly, after returning to conservative play as the final five minutes began, creating fears of a disaster, the Isles exerted some serious pressure again with two minutes remaining. Lots of partial looks, a few shots but nothing to show as the stretch ended with a Johnny Boychuk point shot. They survived one more McDavid shift to reach overtime and bank a regulation point, having outshot the Oilers 37-24.

Overtime: Welp

It was all offense for the brief and lone shift of overtime. The Isles had a golden chance when Tavares’ pass was in too tight to Barzal right in front of the net after Nick Leddy rushed. That missed connection created a broken two-on-one the other way -- a tireless Leddy hustling back as is his strength in minutes 60-65 — where Draisaitl fed McDavid for the winner.

It was a brilliant shot from a sharp angle; Greiss had a chance, but McDavid rifled it to a location that would’ve required an excellent save.

This and That

  • A metaphor: On Ryan Strome’s first faceoff of the night, he was tossed from the draw against Mathew Barzal.
  • Banter: Casey Cizikas was mic’d up for MSG. Best exchange that made air: “Why you have to be so strong?” he said to big Adam Larsson after a goalmouth scramble where #53 was boxed out.
  • Roster Patrol: If Kulemin is out, well the Isles already have an extra forward technically on the roster. Alan Quine’s conditioning stint is ending and he’s already on the 23-man roster, so figure he’ll get the first call. And if there is more than that injury or Kulemin requires IR, well...?