The Edmonton Oilers triumphed over the Montreal Canadiens on early Wednesday evening thanks to Dominik Kahun’s overtime winner, 27 seconds into the extra frame. The two teams finished off their season series, with Montreal winning five of their nine games. The Canadiens entered the game with 11 (!) regulars out of their lineup due to injury and the fact that head coach Dominique Ducharme wanted to rest his veterans before the playoffs, therefore giving younger players such as Jesse Ylonen a chance to crack the lineup before the playoffs.
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett decided not to give his top guns the night off, stating that if it were an 82-game season, he’d likely rest his two superstars, but since it is a 56 game season, they will play the remaining two games. Even though Connor McDavid was not sitting in the press box for this one, he spent much more time on the bench, as he only played 15:12, a far cry from his average of 22-plus minutes a game.
It was a back and forth game, which featured two power-play goals, a short-handed goal, a double deflection goal and, of course, an overtime goal. After phenom rookie Cole Caufield capitalized on a horrific yet reoccurring Tyson Barrie turnover to make it 1-0, the hometown kid, Alex Chaisson, took a James Neal feed got a lucky double deflection to tie the game. Nick Suzuki gave the Habs the lead with a solo rush up the ice, burying his first short-handed goal. The Oilers took a 3-2 lead thanks to a pair of power-play goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl, who is sitting on 199 career goals.
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Suzuki would tie the game 8:22 into the third, as his line capitalized on a tired Oilers group, as Caufield would set up Suzuki for the easy tap-in. That took the game into overtime and a bit of a surprise to start the extra frame, as Kahun started off with his childhood buddy Draisaitl. Kahun would make the most of his chance as he buried a slick feed from Draisaitl on an Oilers’ counterattack.
With the dynamic duo being rested more during games, the Oilers role players have made the most of their opportunity, combining 10 points in the past three games. Having depth scoring is crucial in the playoffs, so players other than McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins must be able to provide scoring each night. Although McDavid’s scoring run has been amazing to watch, it is likely unsustainable, especially in the playoffs against more formidable opponents. Players like Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kahun have given the Oilers depth scoring… at times, but they must become more consistent during the playoffs.
The newly formed third line featuring James Neal, Ryan McLeod and Alex Chaisson has been a success through two games, as McLeod got his first career NHL point during Monday’s game, and Chaisson got his 200th career point on the same goal by Neal. This line has meshed quite well together, with Neal providing some goal-scoring prowess, McLeod adding some speed and playmaking, and Chaisson providing the grit.
Dylan Holloway Signs With Condors
Oilers top prospect Dylan Holloway has signed an amateur tryout with the Oilers farm team, the Bakersfield Condors. This news comes after Holloway signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Oilers. Holloway had a great NCAA season but unfortunately broke his finger in the playoffs, delaying his professional debut.
Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft said that he’s “exploring” putting Holloway on the top line with Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody. Holloway certainly has the skill to play on that line, as he absolutely dominated the competition at the NCAA but using his superb playmaking ability and physical play to wear down opponents.
Finishing the Season
The Oilers will now head home to play the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night to finish the regular season. Heading into the game, the Oilers are on a hot streak, winning 12 of their past 16 games while many players are heating up before the postseason. Connor McDavid is currently on a seven-game point streak and has 35 points in his past 13 games. James Neal has made the most of his return to the lineup, as he has a three-game point streak. Tyson Barrie, who has 11 points in his past 11 games, retook first place in points among defensemen and will likely win that category.
The Oilers’ first-round schedule against the Winnipeg Jets has been released, with Edmonton starting their quest for the Stanley Cup on May 19. They will also have to play one back-to-back game in the first round because they have to wait for Calgary and Vancouver to finish up their respective regular-season schedule.