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I Watched This Game: Overtime own goal caps off Canucks loss to Oilers

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl's dominance was just enough for the Edmonton Oilers to win Game 2 in overtime.
The Vancouver Canucks coughed up three one-goal leads en route to a 4-3 overtime win for the Edmonton Oilers.

“There are a lot of storylines to this game,” said Rick Tocchet, “but I think the top storyline is that [Connor] McDavid and [Leon] Draisaitl were terrific tonight.”

Who am I to argue with Rick Tocchet?

After the Vancouver Canucks stole Game 1 with a stunning comeback, the Edmonton Oilers were eager to avoid heading back home down 2-0 in the series. So, head coach Kris Knoblauch loaded up his top line, moving Draisaitl to the wing with McDavid and Zach Hyman.

It was a bold move, especially since Draisaitl was a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury. According to Knoblauch, that was part of the reason why he put him with McDavid.

“Mostly, it was just to protect Leon and not have him play his heavy minutes in the middle — the faceoffs, it’s a little more physical, a little more demanding on the body,” said Knoblauch. “We felt that if he played left wing, we can protect him. But there was no need to protect him, the way he played tonight.”

The combination of McDavid and Draisaitl was lethal for the Oilers all night and the Canucks simply had no response. That was a major problem as they barely left the ice, with McDavid playing over 28 minutes and Draisaitl over 27. 

When McDavid and Draisaitl were on the ice together at even-strength, shot attempts were 36-to-9 for the Oilers, shots on goal were 16-to-3, and goals were 3-to-1. Add in the power play goal they combined on in the first period and you have all four Oilers goals.

The Canucks did so well at shutting McDavid down in Game 1 but with Draisaitl at his side, they just couldn’t manage it. The biggest issue wasn’t even how they played defensively against his line — instead, it was that they never forced McDavid and Draisaitl to defend in their own zone.

“The problem was, we didn’t play very well in the offensive zone,” said J.T. Miller. “We made it very easy on them. I talk all the time about how the best defence is playing forward and sustaining O-zone time and we didn’t do that one time today. That’s on us. If we’re not going to spend time in the O-zone, good luck at that point against them.”

Miller suggested that they simply didn’t win enough battles to earn the puck. When you lose as many battles as they did, you’re gifting two of the best players in the world possession time. That’s not a recipe for success.

“I thought we defended well once we were in there but you can’t play the whole night against them in that zone and expect them not to get something,” said Miller. “We’ve got to be better.”

The real trouble is that the Canucks couldn’t even win the minutes when McDavid and Draisaitl weren’t on the ice. That’s the key: if the Oilers are going to load up their top line, the Canucks have to make it costly for them to do so. They didn’t.

“With them loading up that line, we maybe need to capitalize on some chances elsewhere,” said Quinn Hughes.

There is a bright side: the Oilers treated this as a must-win game and put all of their eggs in one basket, playing McDavid and an injured Draisaitl massive minutes. And they only just barely won, squeaking out a victory with a lucky goal in overtime. 

The Canucks know how to win on the road — they won all three road games in the first round — and now they’ve seen the best the Oilers have to offer. This series has only just begun.

“Listen: lose in overtime; beat them last game; we’re in this series,” said Tocchet.

Like the vast majority of the Oilers’ lineup for the vast majority of the night, I watched this game.

  • The most positive aspect of this game? Elias Pettersson finally — mercifully — scored a goal, ending a ten-game goal drought that had led to some of the dumbest narratives imaginable. Hopefully, we can lay those to rest but, let’s be real, Canucks fans are definitely not going to lay them to rest.
  • It was also the first power play goal the Oilers have given up all playoffs and it came off a gorgeous pass by J.T. Miller. He came down the left side, looking for all the world like he was going to shoot, then sent a picture-perfect, no-look, cross-seam pass to Pettersson for a wide-open net. It was the best no-look pass since Matthew Stafford in Super Bowl 56.
  • The Oilers responded with a power play goal of their own. Arturs Silovs was brilliant on the penalty kill but there was nothing he could do about the give-and-go Draisaitl worked with McDavid to create an open look from the slot. The two Oilers stars isolated Carson Soucy for a 2-on-1 and Dakota Joshua didn’t recognize the danger in time to collapse back on Draisaitl like a hide-a-bed, so it was all too easy for him to snap the puck past Silovs.
  • Pettersson could have had another goal on the power play later in the first period, as Miller set him up again for a one-timer. This time, though, Pettersson’s stick snapped in twain, with his rent-asunder twig flying further than the puck. Just when it seemed like his luck had changed…
  • Derek Ryan took a gutless cheap shot on Nils Höglander after an altercation, spearing Höglander right in the, well, hög. Considering the NHL has often given five-minute majors, game misconducts, and even multi-game suspensions for that kind of cheap shot, it seemed a little ridiculous that both Höglander and Ryan went to the box for off-setting minors. We’ll see if the league hands Ryan any supplemental discipline, though I won’t be holding my breath.
  • The Canucks and Oilers traded goals on the 4-on-4, with the Canucks striking first. Miller won the faceoff back to Nikita Zadorov, he relayed it to Carson Soucy, and his point shot was neatly tipped in by Brock Boeser. He gave the puck a quick tap, much like Ryan gave to Höglander’s midsection. 
  • A turnover down low by Soucy and Zadorov led to the Oilers’ response 23 seconds later while still at 4-on-4. Miller, while trying to recover his defensive positioning after the turnover, skated right past McDavid in the slot, which is, generally speaking, not the thing to do. Fortunately, Draisaitl’s centring pass hit McDavid in the skate; unfortunately, it deflected right to Mattias Ekholm to snap past Silovs to tie the game 2-2.
  • Pettersson evidently took a number when Darnell Nurse hit him headfirst into the boards in the first period, as he was aiming to blow Nurse up in open ice in the second period only to narrowly miss the hit. You know that things are starting to get heated when Pettersson is trying to Scott Stevens someone.
  • Officiating is going to be a huge part of the story of this game and for good reason. There were missed boarding calls both ways — not just Nurse on Petteresson but also Myers on Mattias Janmark, though Myers seemed to take the worst of it. The most egregious missed call, however, was when McDavid high-sticked Hughes in the face, cutting open his cheek for what should have been a four-minute double minor. The evidence was literally bleeding down the side of his face. 
  • “The officiating, they’ve got a really hard job and usually both sides are yelling at them, so I feel for them,” said Hughes. “We’re lucky that we have the guys in the league that we do have and I’ll just leave it at that…I haven’t looked at the clip, so I can’t comment on it but, from my perspective, I got hit in the face, that’s all I know.”
  • “Tough job,” said Tocchet about the officiating. “The only thing I don’t like is the slewfoots. I like Kelly [Sutherland] and Eric [Furlatt], maybe they missed them, but there were a couple of slewfoots on Huggy I didn’t like. But other than that, what are you going to do? It’s a tough job.”
  • This hit by Evander Kane is the one that stands out the most as being a slewfoot, as he kicks forward with his left leg to upend Hughes and send him crashing awkwardly down to the ice. It’s understandable why Tocchet took issue with that — it’s tough for a player to protect themselves from a slewfoot and it can lead to serious injuries.
  • There’s something important to keep in mind, here. If the officials are going to be swallowing whistles and limiting penalty calls, that’s ultimately to the Canucks’ benefit. The Oilers’ power play is dynamite and nearly unstoppable. The Canucks’ power play is very much stoppable. As much as it’s galling to see the officials look off bad hits, high sticks, elbows, interference — whatever it is — it’s better for the Canucks for there to be fewer power plays for both teams than to let this series become a special teams battle.  
  • Nikita “Great Big Zee” Zadorov is turning into a folk hero in Vancouver these playoffs. He already had one assist when he jumped up the left wing, got in deep, and then caught Skinner off his post. It was a carbon copy to his Game 5 goal against the Nashville Predators, as he sniped under the bar from a terrible angle for his fourth goal of the playoffs. 
  • The third period was just plain bad for the Canucks, as they got pinned down like a butterfly collection in the defensive zone. Shots on goal were 15-to-2 for the Oilers in the third period, as they were all over the Canucks like CoComelon on a toddler’s iPad. 
  • “Too many guys were flipping pucks out when they didn’t have to,” said Tocchet. “That’s the only thing I didn’t like about our team in the third. I guess that’s playoff experience. If you have the puck and you have somebody at your back, skate with it, keep your heart rate down. I just felt as soon as somebody got it, they flipped it — like, everybody. I think there were plays to be made. We never gave them anything to defend and that’s what happens.”
  • The Oilers’ tying goal was a disasterpiece of bad decisions from the Canucks’ shutdown pair. First, Carson Soucy tried to throw an open-ice hit on Zach Hyman and not only missed but also collided with Pettersson, who was the first forward on the backcheck. To make matters worse, Tyler Myers gambled on the loose puck, not recognizing that the best player on the planet was racing to it. McDavid burst past Myers for a breakaway and McDid what McDavid McDoes.
  • “That third goal, you’ve got to know who’s on the ice,” said Tocchet. “You’ve got to make sure you don’t throw blind pucks out, things like that. Hopefully, we learn from those mistakes.”
  • That comment from Tocchet suggests that he lays some of the blame on Nils Höglander for McDavid’s goal, as he made the centring pass that was broken up and led to the rush the other way. But boy oh boy, I hope I’m either misinterpreting him or that he changes his mind when he watches it again on video, because Höglander did nothing wrong. He was just trying set up a scoring chance and the Canucks had plenty of players back defensively.
  • With the game all tied up like water at its highest point on a beach, the Canucks were just holding on for dear life, caught in the undertow of wave after wave of Oilers crashing into the offensive zone. It was ugly hockey and it made my eyes sad.
  • It was such ugly hockey that apparently Sportsnet decided to spare their viewers the pain of watching it. During a critical sequence in the Canucks’ zone, the broadcast inexplicably cut to the Oilers’ outdoor viewing party for three agonizingly-long seconds. The decision to do so was the only call all game that both Canucks and Oilers fans agreed was bad.
  • Despite the lopsided third period, the Canucks got the game to overtime and had a chance to pull out the win. So, of course, they lost in the stupidest way possible: an own goal. Evan Bouchard threw a pass toward Zach Hyman at the backdoor but, before it could get there, the puck went off Ian Cole’s stick and in. Cole couldn’t have tipped it in anymore perfectly.
  • It’s easy to blame Cole, especially after his nightmarish Game 1 performance, but it wasn’t entirely Cole’s fault. Cole was attempting to pick off the pass but when Silovs kicked out his pad to do the same, his skate hit Cole’s stick just before the puck arrived, pushing his blade back to the perfect angle to tip the puck into the net. It was brutally bad luck.
  • On the other hand, Tocchet suggested that Cole’s stick shouldn’t have been in the crease in the first place: “We always tell our D, get out of that blue — bad things happen in there.”
  • “We had the game where we wanted it,” said Hughes. “Sometimes we’ll close that out and sometimes we won’t…Like I told you guys the entire year, we’re not going to get too high or too low. I thought for the most part we played a pretty solid game and now we just look forward to Edmonton.”