The Oilers have a New Year's Eve date with the Flames in Calgary on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m MST. It can be seen on Sportsnet/Sportsnet 1 or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – After watching a two-goal lead disappear in the third, the Oilers pushed back and persevered in a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings.
The win was the Oilers first since December 7, and the first victory for Todd Nelson as the team’s interim head coach.
“It does feel really good,” Nelson said. “I don’t think it has really sunk in yet, but it is more or less a relief I think for everybody to get a win under our belt here and now we can build on the result.”
Derek Roy, acquired in a trade on Monday, recorded his first point with the Oilers as the home team jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 4:37 of the first. Roy set up Matt Hendricks alone in the slot for a one-timer and the winger buried it past Jonathan Quick. Oscar Klefbom earned the second assist on the goal.
The Oilers killed off a big pair of penalties towards the end of the first to maintain the lead heading into the second. Leon Draisaitl got called for a hook on Trevor Lewis at 15:53. Things were going great for the Oilers penalty kill unit, but a tripping call to Jeff Petry with 30 seconds left on the first offence gave the Kings a two-man advantage. A few timely clears helped the Oilers survive that scare.
The trio of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle came down the ice on a 3-on-1 rush about midway through the second period. Eberle passed it to Nugent-Hopkins and once he was in close, the centre tried to find a teammate backdoor but the pass sailed wide. They got the puck back however and Hall found Nugent-Hopkins for the snipe, which gave the Oilers the 2-0 lead at 9:32 of the middle frame. Eberle tacked on an assist.
Ben Scrivens, playing in his 100th career NHL game, made 15 saves in the second to help set the Oilers up well heading into the third. With roughly 12 minutes remaining in the third, Scrivens was solid again by making two big saves in succession. He stopped 37 shots total in the win.
“I thought the first two periods we played really well,” Nelson said. “We were hunting the puck down, we were doing a good job with our forecheck, we were creating turnovers and then once the third period came they cranked it up a couple notches and they hemmed us in and we had a tough time breaking the puck ahead of our zone and trying to get back into that forecheck that we had the first couple of periods. We bent but we didn’t break and the thing is that Scrivey gave us a chance to win. It was nice to get a win for this group. I think it’s very important right now.”
At the 9:58 mark of the third, Drew Doughty took a shot that might have snuck by Scrivens but the red light remained inactive. After play continued, there was further review and it was ruled a good goal for the Kings, which cut the Oilers lead to 2-1. Jeff Carter recorded the assist.
Justin Schultz took a high sticking penalty at 16:59 of the third, which eventually led to Los Angeles tying things up at two. Jake Muzzin squeezed a shot through the blocker side of Scrivens, assisted by Tyler Toffoli at 17:35 of the third on the power play.
It was really all Kings in the third, with the visitors outshooting the Oilers 15-1. However, the Oilers held on to send it to overtime.
“I think just getting that win is going to give us confidence to make plays late in games,” Roy said. “We’re going to need to make plays. We can’t be under siege like that with 15-1 shots. I think the more experience we have in winning and knowing how to win, we’re going to get better at it.”
With a minute to play in overtime, the Oilers began pressuring. Eberle and Hall traded chances with both teams seemingly exhausted. Petry had a wraparound try that was stopped by Quick. Then David Perron walked in on the goaltender but couldn’t connect, though he’d redeem himself in the shootout. Despite providing some pressure and outshooting Los Angeles 4-2 in overtime, the game transitioned to the shootout.
The drama mounted when Scrivens was forced to cover the knob of his stick with white tape, which was originally orange in colour.
“It’s just gamesmanship,” Scrivens said. “You’re trying to gain an edge anyway you can. I guess it’s a rule in the game. I’ll have to double-check exactly what it is. I think it’s that you’re not allowed to have black or dark coloured tape. I’m pretty sure bright orange won’t get mistaken for a puck but it is what it is. You’re trying to do whatever you can to get an advantage to win and that’s just gamesmanship.”
After that, Eberle put a great move on Quick and there was a chance that it had crossed the line. However, after review, it was ruled to be a save.
In the fourth round of the shootout, Justin Williams missed the net for the Kings. Perron played the role of the hero, roofing a backhand past Quick to lift the Oilers to victory. They now head to Calgary for a New Year’s Eve showdown with the Flames.
“I can’t really answer for Todd but I would assume that he’s quite happy about it,” Scrivens said of getting Nelson his first win, against the Kings. “I’m pretty sure he’s in the business of getting as many wins as you can. Obviously, the first one against a very talented and hardworking team is something he’s going to look back on with pride. But he’s no different than the rest of the group in that I’m sure he’s already focused on Calgary now. I’m sure he’ll enjoy this here until we get on the plane and then the focus goes to our game tomorrow.”