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GENE'S BLOG: A night to remember

In his latest blog, Gene Principe recounts the energy in Rogers Place and the accolades from the Oilers latest come-from-behind victory over the Washington Capitals

by Gene Principe / Special to

It was the second-last Thursday of October but felt more like a game meant for March. The stretch drive would have seemed a better place to put the game between Washington and Edmonton on the calendar. At that point, it could have been a playoff-positioning encounter. Instead, we "settled" for an early-season scorcher that lit up Rogers Place like a firecracker.

The building was jumping and so were the Oilers. At least they were in the third period and sudden death when Kevin Quinn got the chance to use his marquee "OOVVEERRTTIMMMEEEE WINNER!" call.

It was the eighth time Kevin has had the opportunity to call it out after a finality provided by Leon Draisaitl. Eight times, which puts Leon at the top of the Oilers all-time list for overtime winners. He broke a tie with his captain Connor McDavid and the legendary Jari Kurri (in case you're wondering, overtime started in 1983).

Video: Draisaitl, McDavid lead Oilers to overtime win

Now the funny thing is, the stat could be flip-flopped considering it was McDavid who set up Draisaitl for the 4-3 OT winner on a play so fast the puck was in and out in a flash. Let's call it another flash of brilliance between this dynamic duo who willed the team to victory.

"You do think about it (shooting) when you're in the slot," explained McDavid, whose late-game goal pushed the contest past 60 minutes. Instead, his pass played out to perfection.

"I wouldn't have minded if he put it in himself," laughed Draisaitl after the two extended Edmonton's home record to a perfect 5-0-0.

It certainly appeared the record of perfection at Rogers Place was in jeopardy when Alexander Ovechkin scored goals 666 and 667 of his career. A 3-1 lead for Washington, who had won four in a row coming into Rogers Place. Not the greatest situation to be in.

While Leon and Connor combined for a dazzling ending, it was the play of goaltender Mikko Koskinen that allowed it all to happen. Any Oilers fan who watched the game on Sportsnet or watched it in person was left mumbling in utter exuberance about the third-period push and the win in overtime. I was one of them, but lost in the excitement - at least temporarily - was the play of Koskinen. 

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Draisaitl 10.24.19

To win five Stanley Cup titles, you need great goaltending at some point. Success cannot be accomplished with a singular source. The past brought Edmonton netminders named Andy Moog, Bill Ranford and Grant Fuhr. All have their names etched on the Cup.

However, none of the above or any other Oilers greats who wore pads and carried a blocker and a catching glove - Curtis Joseph, Tommy Salo and Dwayne Roloson also come to mind - ever accomplished what Koskinen did against Washington. He became the first goalie in franchise history to start a season 5-0-0. Hard to believe considering all the great teams of the past, but a huge credit to Koskinen.

Think about it… he didn't even start the first game but this is how his season has unfolded so far. A historical beginning for a goalie who looks like a Finnish basketball player and has done a really nice job of rebounding from last season.

It was game 11 on the Oilers schedule. Still 71 more to go. Hard to imagine any could feel the same as what occurred versus Washington as two superstars and a goalie capped off a night to remember.

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