The Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers always seem to put on entertaining hockey games. These games aren’t necessarily wonderful if you’re a coach trying to cut down on the goals against, but as a hockey fan, they’re wildly entertaining. Friday night, the game between the Oilers and Rangers went beyond entertaining. It was historic and memorable.
It started with Kevin Lowe’s jersey retirement. It moved into a slow start by the Oilers but turned into a game right out of Lowe’s prime years as a high-scoring affair included a three-goal comeback, losing the lead and then tieing it again on why might be the goal of the year in the NHL from Connor McDavid when all is said and done.
There were so many takeaways from the 6-5 overtime win, it’s hard to narrow it down to three.
Kevin Lowe’s Number Goes Into the Rafters
An emotional and fitting ceremony included almost everything except an appearance by Wayne Gretzky who couldn’t be in the building. Former and current Oilers, friends, family, and fans all showed their appreciation for one of the hardest-working players in Oilers history. Lowe wasn’t a player who played for statistics but was a defenseman who battled for every inch of ice and absolutely hated it when the Oilers lost.
Craig MacTavish stole the night with his speech as he hit Lowe with a couple of witty zingers, including saying the whole ceremony was a lot for a person who wasn’t even the best athlete in his family and the seventh-best player on his team.
The only downside of the ceremony was that it was a long time for the Oilers’ current roster to sit and watch and they came out slow to start the first period.
Oilers Prove They’re Never Out of a Game
This game was the first time the Oilers had been down by three goals all season. Still, as poorly as the Oilers played at times during the first two periods, there was always a feeling they were never out of it. Down 4-1, they came storming back to tie the game 4-4. Two goals by Jesse Puljujarvi and two power-play markers helped get the Oilers back in it.
Mikko Koskinen couldn’t stop a beautiful wrist shot by Mika Zibanejad and the Ranger regained a one-goal lead late in the contest. Still, the Oilers pressed. They ended up out-shooting New York 39-25 in the game and 15-4 in the third period.
When it seemed like they were down and out the club never quit. They were dogged on the forecheck, tenacious on the backcheck, and pressed knowing they had to win the game with their goaltender struggling a bit. With Lowe and all of the Oilers alumni in the building, this was not a game the Oilers were willing to be outworked.
McDavid Scores Early Candidate for Goal of the Year
It’s probably not a stretch to suggest the final regulation goal for McDavid will win the NHL’s goal-of-the-year award. While some people will say it was just McDavid doing McDavid things, he never ceases to amaze and it’s like watching him on easy mode in a video game that includes multiple cheat codes.
Perhaps most impressive about the goal is that it came out of a broken play. He failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone and instead of going offside, he reset, waited for his teammates to get onside, and then attacked four Rangers players and went around all four, plus the goalie. He made all but one Rangers player look helpless and no one stood a chance.
Even his own reaction told the fans he realized he’d done something incredible. When he spoke about it after the game, he said he was ticked off at himself for not keeping the play onside so he just tried to “pick his way through” to make up for it.
Honorable Mentions for Takeaway Consideration
- Zach Hyman looked dangerous all evening. He had one goal and six shots on net.
- Puljujarvi is a fan favorite. The Bison King is beloved by Oilers Nation right now and when he plays at home, he’s a sight to behold. He had two goals but his slap shot on the first goal was a rocket.
- Koskinen stuggled a bit but Dave Tippett stuck with him. It will be interesting to see if Stuart Skinner gets a look soon.
- Darnell Nurse had three assists on the night and played 29:23 on the evening. His overtime pass to Leon Draisaitl was a beauty.
- Tippett calling a timeout in overtime was incredibly smart. It allowed the Oilers to keep their top guys on the ice and for Draisaitl to take a key faceoff. It worked as the Oilers scored just a few seconds later.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”