Big Picture: This game deserved to end in a regulation tie. It was even-steven throughout, all things considered, and the Vancouver Canucks deserved the point. The fact that they almost snuck out of Edmonton with a second point in the shoot-out would have been Christmas in October.
The first period was fast paced and extremely entertaining. No lulls, other than Alex Chiasson seeming a bit discombobulated. This may have been nerves coming back to play against his most recent former team or just getting up to speed in general.
The most impressive element for the Vancouver Canucks early was their forecheck. It remained aggressive throughout and made the Oilers transition game difficult. You could say the same thing for the Oilers forecheck. One of the biggies for Vancouver was getting in goalie Mike Smith’s lanes on his puck retrievals. We didn’t see Smith making 100-plus foot breakout passes as a “third defenceman”, something he did regularly in the preseason. Part of this had to do with the effective timing of the Canucks line changes and their style of chip/dumps.
On the goal, it looked as though Tyler Myers had a bit of Draisaitl-on-the-brain disorder. I like the way the Canucks handled Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the most part in the first, but Myers was definitely cheating toward the circle when Jesse Puljujarvi found himself all alone in front to tally on a rebound. He had plenty of time to bury it. To be fair, three other Canucks may have had McDavid-on-the-brain on the other side of the ice.
The Canucks showed patience on their break-out, even under pressure, and were controlled through the neutral zone.
Edmonton – Puljujarvi (1) – Darnell Nurse and McDavid, 16:55 Even Strength
Edmonton Oilers 1, Vancouver Canucks 0.
In the second period the Canucks were the dominant team at even strength. It’s that simple. They cycled effectively in the offensive zone and had a number of glorious scoring opportunities. Oilers goaltender Smith may have a bruised sternum tomorrow morning, the Canucks fired that many shots right into his chest or bread-basket. That’s being picky though, because there’s rarely anything wrong with putting the puck on net. Nothing worse than seeing pucks constantly flying past posts, something you’ll see more and more as shooters try to fine-tune their shots.
Same level of entertainment in terms of skating and opportunities. Chiasson seemed to find his legs and had a good scoring chance heading into the first TV break. By the way, if you ever wondered what determines the commercial breaks, the basic guidelines call for TV time-outs following the first stoppage other than a goal or icing when the clock gets below 14:00, under 10:00, and under 6:00.
Both teams had two power play opportunities in the second period, and the Canucks had a third that carried over into the 3rd. Jason Dickinson and Matthew Highmore were effective getting sticks in lanes on the first kill, but on Edmonton’s second opportunity, it was power play clinic-esque. McDavid cross ice to Draisaitl to Hyman for the stuff job in the crease all alone.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the first player to be burned by the new cross checking crackdown, he didn’t do a whole lot to earn the call at 6:47, with a push on the pants of Derek Ryan along the boards. The Canucks killed that penalty. They didn’t kill a too-many-men on the ice call at 16:17. Tough break as a puck hit Tucker Poolman as he was going to the bench after his replacement had already taken the ice. It was one of those stretch passes from goalie Smith that forced the issue.
Edmonton – Zach Hyman (1) – Draisaitl and McDavid, 17:12 PP
Edmonton Oilers 2, Vancouver Canucks 0.
The third power play for the Canucks fizzled out starting the third period and it was followed by the game’s first lull. Credit to Vancouver for correcting it quickly, with waterbug Conor Garland the catalyst. Five minutes in, the Canucks were back at it five-on-five creating opportunities, and earning their fourth power play of the game, a legit cross checking call to the Oilers Kris Russell at 6:14.
Maybe that wasn’t a good thing. Can a power play destroy momentum ………… they did get four shots on the PP, but nothing doing. Maybe they’re turning the corner …
Back to five-on-five, Garland the catalyst again, beautiful rush up the right wing boards, beautiful in that he used some figure skating moves to dart deep and draw a tripping penalty on Tyson Barrie at 10:59. You could sense the, “OK, boys, gotta have one.”
Can a power play destroy momentum ………. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s point wrister deflected in off Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stick in the high slot and past a screened Mike Smith.
The Canucks pressed at this point, calmly utilizing the momentum gained off the goal. Quinn Hughes cruised into the Oilers zone, held on to the puck along the left boards and timed a shot behind a moving Elias Pettersson screen. It snuck under the right armpit of Smith inside the post.
Vancouver – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1) – Nils Höglander and Garland , 12:28 PP
Vancouver – Quinn Hughes (1) – Höglander and Miller 17:11 ES
Vancouver Canucks 2, Edmonton Oilers 2.
Overtime: The usual 3-on-3 circus.
EDM – Draisaitl – shot, stick save, FAIL
VAN – Pettersson – deke, backhand, shot it into Smith’s glove, FAIL
EDM – McDavid – wait, shot, save, FAIL
VAN – JT MIller – shot, save, FAIL
EDM – Tyson Barrie – deke, lost puck, FAIL
VAN – Garland – shot it over the net, FAIL
EDM – Nugent-Hopkins – slot, shot, GOAL
VAN – Bo Horvat – Heavy deke, delay, roofs it, GOAL
EDM – Turris – shot, 5-hole, GOAL
VAN – Tanner Pearson – shot, wide, FAIL
Edmonton Oilers 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 – Shoot-out
Simmer’s Vancouver Canucks 3-Stars:
3) Nils Höglander
2) Oliver Ekman-Larsson
1) Thatcher Demko
Big Moments: Conor Garland’s shifts after power play failures, getting the team’s legs back quickly.
Tyler Myers blowing up Duncan Keith, Canucks fans’ favourite villain from his Chicago days, with a massive, clean hit at 13:15 of the 2nd period.