With several of the 1980s Oilers in attendance to witness Glen Sather’s banner ceremony, the current Oilers roster did their best 80s impression in an offence-driven 7-5 win over the New York Rangers. Here are five things to take in from the win:
1. SATHER THE MOMENT
The Oilers honoured their former head coach and general manager, Glen Sather, who was the architect of their five Stanley Cups. They raised his name into the rafters to rest alongside the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
All but one of the Oilers banner boys were in attendance, alongside many of Sather’s management colleagues and friends. Sather gave a speech to the enthusiastic fans in attendance following a walk down from the catwalk and through the stands and cheering masses. There was even a cigar waiting for Sather, as is tradition.
The Oilers drew some energy from the night’s ceremonies.
“They’re legends and I’m sure they wanted to see a win as well,” Taylor Hall said. “There’s something about making those guys proud when they come to town. Having them in the building certainly contributed tonight.” He helped the Oil Kings win the Memorial Cup in 1963.
2. THE RISE OF DRAI
Leon Draisaitl is having about as impressive a second year as the Oilers could have hoped. He, along with his partner in crime Taylor Hall, has been an offensive revelation.
Draisaitl has 26 points (9-17-26) in 20 games this season. On Friday night, Draisaitl had four assists, while saucy passes and jaw-dropping plays are becoming a regular thing for the 20-year-old forward.
“He’s amazing,” said Hall. “Him and I have played so well together, but it’s all him. He sees the ice so well. He protects the puck so well. He does so many things I can’t do, and at the end of the day, we complement each other really well.”
Draisaitl’s spin move at the blueline and feed to Hall on the game-winning goal was spectacular.
The young German extended his point streak to four games on Friday. He has a goal and seven assists in that span.
3. TAYLOR THE TERRIFIC
It seems like almost every game recently Hall jumps off the ice. He has five goals and four assists during his current four-game point streak.
“He’s the catalyst right now. He’s the guy,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Leon plays a big part in it as well, but he seems to arise to the occasion all the time. Scoring big goals, putting big shifts together, and what’s kind of remarkable is a lot of it is even strength. It’s not a lot of power play stuff. If we can get that unit going on the power play, maybe they’ll have even more success."
Hall had two goals and two assists against the Rangers, including the game winner. He has scored the game-winning goal in three straight games.
Lauri Korpikoski scored three goals, including an empty-netter to seal the game, for his first career hat trick.
His first came at 6:35 of the opening period, as he hacked the puck underneath Henrik Lundqvist to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. He made it 2-1 at 15:47 when he roofed a rebound over the goaltender. His empty-net goal came at 19:22 of the final frame.
“It was a fun night, for sure,” said Korpikoski. “It kind of reminded (people) of one of those 80s games. It was high scoring. The pucks just seemed to kind of follow me tonight. Everything was going in. I’m happy for getting the goals.”
5. VARIETY OF VICTORIES
The Oilers are riding a five-game win streak.
“I don’t think anyone predicted that after the Toronto debacle,” said Hall. “We’re really happy with how that (homestand) went. Now it’s about at least getting .500 on this road trip, stay in the thick of things and go into Christmas feeling good.”
|Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers |
What has been even more impressive than five wins is that no matter the situation, Edmonton is finding ways to get victories against good teams during this stretch.
They beat Boston in a shootout, then Dallas in overtime. They controlled Buffalo in a 4-2 win, and followed that with a physical 4-3 overtime decision over San Jose. Friday night, they got into a track meet and outlasted the Rangers.
“Over those last five games, we haven’t won the exact same way every night,” said Darnell Nurse. “It hasn’t been perfect, like you saw tonight. We weren’t perfect, but we’re finding ways to win and that’s big.”
The Oilers got some great goaltending performances early in this win streak, but Friday night the offensive weapons bailed out Anders Nilsson giving him seven goals worth of support.
“That’s the sign of a team, a team coming together,” said McLellan. “The first four wins, we talked about winning a whole bunch of different ways. You can throw a fifth into the pile now.”
This was only the Oilers third perfect homestand of five or more games in franchise history. The last time they did it was in 1987. Glen Sather was the coach.