GDB 70:0 WRAP UP: DESPERATE TIMES
The Edmonton Oil Kings are in the fight of their lives right now. The Tigers are breathing down their necks for the final playoff spot in the East and losing just isn’t a luxury they can afford.
When all was said and done, the Oil Kings did what they needed to do to eke out a win tonight in Lethbridge. It wasn’t a perfect game by either team, but between two exhausted clubs, it was Edmonton that wanted it more.
The margin of victory wasn’t much, but it was enough.
1:55 second into the game Giorgio Estephan won a faceoff allowing Brayden Burke to pick it up and rip it passed Payton Lee. The Oil Kings would answer back in the second half of the period. With the Canes on the PK, Brett Pollock made a nice centering pass to Lane Bauer. Bauer was all alone in the slot and fired a hard shot passed Skinner to tie things up at 1.
Edmonton would get another on the powerplay before the end of the period. With Atwal sitting for cross checking, the Oil Kings broke in on a 3 on 2, dropped to the trailer and (thanks to a deflection and some interference on Estephan), beat Skinner. The Hurricanes would answer back shortly after. With 45 seconds on the board, Andrew Nielsen took advantage of a furious scrum in the blue ice and poke home a greasy goal to tie things up.
Things opened up early in the second. There were defensive breakdowns for both teams and both Skinner and Lee were forced into making some clutch saves. For his part, Skinner made stops on three clear cut breakaways.
On the other end of the ice, Payton Lee denied Wong on a breakaway and then twice stoned Merezhko on blasts from the slot. Unfortunately for Lethbridge, a point shot by Aaron Irving in the final seconds of the period would beat Skinner and give Edmonton a 3-2 lead.
Things were cagier in the 3rd period. Payton Lee and the Oil Kings defense did a good job of denying Lethbridge the tying goal. With the net empty and a man advantage, Pollock scored from his own zone to put Edmonton up 4 – 2. Estephan would get a goal on the next shift to make things interesting – but it just wasn’t meant to be. As hard as they pressed, the Canes just couldn’t manufacture the goal they needed. Final score, 4-3.
- The Canes got out to a strong start with the early Burke goal. Extra credit to Estephan for the faceoff win.
- I love seeing defensemen get into the blue paint when the situation calls for it. Nielsen did just that on his goal.
- Stuart Skinner was a difference maker . He turned aside four clear cut breakaways in the second period alone. Were it not for him, this game would have gone South early.
- The PK got beat up a little tonight. A night after surrendering two special teams goals to Red Deer, Edmonton had scored two more before the end of the 1st period.
- The Canes struggled to contain the Oil Kings’ long passes. Edmonton stretched the ice and generated multiple odd-man rushes. It was most evident in the 2nd period. The Canes just weren’t good enough defensively in the first half of the game.
- Not enough desperation in the first half of the game from Lethbridge. They started moving the puck much better in the 3rd period and you could see the intensity level rise, but it was ultimately too little too late.
THIS AND THAT
- As Herald Sports Editor Dylan Purcell noted on Twitter, there was an abundance of clutching and grabbing permitted in tonight’s game. Get used to it. That’s just how things are in the post-season.
- Three games in three night’s is tough sledding. I will give the Canes the benefit of the doubt on some of the breakdowns tonight. This is a team that will fall just shy of 50 wins. Sometimes we (myself included) tend to lose sight of that when critiquing one game. The body of work has been sensational this season.
I have hockey tonight so apologies that the wrap up is a little shorter than normal.
Ultimately this was a game that Edmonton needed and the Hurricanes didn’t. It’s not the right mentality but it can’t be denied. Edmonton needed the win and they got it. The Hurricanes weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. It was a game between two tired clubs and the road team found a way to make it happen when the home team couldn’t.
There’s no reason to get too down or upset after this one. The Canes must turn their attention to their final weekend of the regular season. A double header against Medicine Hat.
Keep tuned to Canes Domain this week as we will likely have some mid-week content to bridge the gap between games.