A double gut-check 3-2 victory for the Edmonton Oilers in Tampa Bay: Cult of Hockey Player Grades

A double gut-check 3-2 victory for the Edmonton Oilers in Tampa Bay: Cult of Hockey Player Grades

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers and Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight for the puck during a game at Amalie Arena on November 08, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers and Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight for the puck during a game at Amalie Arena on November 08, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers won a highly emotional 3-2 win in Tampa Tuesday, ending a 3-game losing skid.

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But attention to the game itself was temporarily suspended after Evander Kane went down with a stomach-turning injury. A skate slashed his wrist, causing Kane to sprint to the gate followed by the medical team. Behind him, the ice was left red, and the players’ faces white as sheets. We understand Kane underwent surgery in hospital later and will eventually be o.k. Our thoughts are with Evander Kane, his family, and teammates after a frightening incident.

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To the result on the scoreboard: The last time the Oilers had won in Tampa Bay was December 9th, 2009. 13 years and an accumulated 0-8-1 record over that dry spell. In context, the club was down to 10 forwards (lined up 11-7 & then lost Kane) on the second of back-to-back’s (and didn’t get to their hotel until well after 3am). And this was the championship caliber Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a real gut-check win, including break-out performances by several players who have struggled mightily. And the Oilers beleaguered PK? 5 killed out of 5.

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A lot to cover, not the least of which was the ability of the players (on both sides) to compartmentalize the Kane incident and still perform at a high level.

Here’s the tale of the tape…

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

JACK CAMPBELL. 9. Jack Campbell certainly answered the bell in the 1st Period, facing 16 shots including the game’s first 10 before his mates could answer back with one of their own. Those stops featured a tricky early deflection off Nurse’s stick, a strong backhand from Sergachev, and a dangerous chance off Point’s stick in the slot. Little chance on the 1-1 goal against, a perfectly executed 3-on-2. Met another Point challenge in the 2nd. The 3-2 against was a perfectly placed deflection. A massive glove save off Stamkos in the dying seconds. Stopped 35 of 37. Campbell was named the game’s 1st Star. His biggest performance this year, especially considering the heat he was surely feeling after a slow start to his life as an Oiler. Good for him.

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CONNOR McDAVID. 8. Assessed a real ticky-tack hooking minor in the 1st (like he hasn’t ensured 100’s of those without a call) but his mates scored on the ensuing PK. Fed Puljujarvi for 3 separate chances on a dominant 1st Period shift. Opened a 2-1 lead in the 2nd by depositing a Barrie pass into the net. A power move past Hedman to the Bolts net in the 2nd. He & Bouchard cleared the zone under duress during a 2nd Period PK. Set up Draisaitl for a glorious 2nd Period chance. Took Cernak hard to the net in the 3rd. Hit a post with 7 minutes left. 5 shots, 4 hits. The game’s 3rd Star.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 7. Smart, well executed performance. Slapped a loose puck off the Barrie shot across to McDavid for the 2-1. A cool defensive play under fire in his own end helped kill a 2nd Period Tampa PP. Excellent PK stick in the 2nd. Excellent 3rd Period defensive play on Perry in front. A puck battle seconds later earned a PP.

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JESSE PULJUJARVI. 6. No less than 3 scoring chances on a strong late 1st Period shift with McDavid but he could not find the range. Drew a 2nd Period penalty. A couple smart defensive stick plays in the 3rd. His 5 shots led the team.

DARNELL NURSE. 5. Big shot block on a 1st Period PK. It was Nurse’s man that deflected home the 3-2. He went a dash-2 on the night, not-so-flattering HDSC numbers on his watch (1-8). Nurse and Barrie faced a steady diet of Tampa’s best and while they most certainly bent…they only “bent” twice. One was a 2-on-1 that neither Nurse nor Barrie was primary to blame for, and the other was a deflection.

TYSON BARRIE. 6. Took a 1st period minor for manhandling Corey Perry in the crease after the latter high stick the Oilers goalie not once but twice. Started the play on the 1st Period Ryan breakaway with a slick outlet pass. Careened dangerously into the end boards after a missed 1st Period icing call. Earned an assist on the 2-1 by getting the puck through to the net. Played a bunch against Tampa’s best.

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LEON DRAISAITL. 7. Part of the hard-pressing PP sequence on the 2-1. Extended his goal scoring streak to 5 consecutive games with a sharp backhand. Draisaitl created room in front and swept McDavid’s “poke pass” home. Fired a McDavid pass late in the 2nd wide. Ticked a post with a nifty behind-the-net attempt. Part of the sequence against on the 3-2. Terrific back-track and steal in the 3rd, the best example in a game filled with string defensive play by #29. 67% on draws, of which he took a ton of.  4 shots, 2 blocks.

EVANDER KANE. Incomplete Grade. Taken out of the game by a serious injury early in the 2nd. Tossed to the ice, a passing skate appeared to cut his wrist. Earlier, could not handle a pass at the Tampa blueline and the puck got turned back for a 3-on-2 and to make matters worse Kane was a half-second late on the back-check. But the play on the ice is immaterial compared to the player’s well-being.

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ZACH HYMAN. 7. Drew a 2nd Period PP. Net front on the 2-1. Helped win a critical board battle on the 3-1 (belatedly awarded with a deserved an assist). Excellent defensive play on Sergachev in front. Forced an Oilers PP with a hard forecheck that resulted in a puck over the glass. Appeared to have scored the 4-1 but it was ruled he had done so with a distinct kicking motion. A play on Koepke in the defensive slot saved a goal.

BRETT KULAK. 6. The coaching staff rewarded their trust in him by having him on the ice to protect the lead late. Skated miles. 3 shot blocks in 18: 22.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 6. Solid bounce back game for a player who has had a serious case of the yips lately. He and McDavid teamed for a smart zone clear on a 2nd Period PK. Bouchard also had a couple nasty turnovers but neither one ended up costing him. 5v5 High Danger Scoring Chances For/Against was 5-0.

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RYAN McLEOD. 6. Disrupted the play in the Tampa zone then hit Foegele in-stride for the 1-0 shorty. Effective backcheck on a subsequent PK. Split the Tampa D on a lightning-fast break in the 2nd but was denied on the back hand. Set up Foegele for a good 3rd Period chance. 2 shots.

WARREN FOEGELE. 8. Warren Foegele played as if his NHL job was on the line. Lifted a massive monkey off his back with a short-handed goal in the 1st Period. Foegele’s 1st of the year, he started the play with a good stick and ended it with a wrist shot stick-side for the 1-0. A very good shift the next PK, too. Good 3rd Period shot off a nifty McLeod pass. His shot block melted the final few seconds off the clock. Very good on the Pk (1: 44), 4 hits including one of the thundering variety. Excellent performance. The game’s 2nd Star. His teammates’ celebration after the goal spoke volumes.

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KAILER YAMAMOTO. 5. Put forth a physical effort, credited with 5 hits (to lead the club). On the positive side of Chances For/Against but 0 shots.

MARCUS NIEMELAINEN. 4. Crushed in shot shares and Scoring Chances For/Against. Did have 4 hits in just 7: 22.

CODY CECI. 7. Very well-played 1-on-1 against Kucherov late. It was indicative of a strong performance by Ceci, largely against elites. His HDSC For/Against was 3-4. 3 blocks in 18 minutes of work.

DYLAN HOLLOWAY. 5. Had a shot and 3 hits in 5: 43. Mostly played on a makeshift 4th line with others rotating in.

DEREK RYAN. 4. Sprung for a 1st Period breakaway but as he deked Vasilevskiy the puck rolled on him. Absolutely crushed in 5v5 CF (4-11, 26%). Took a penalty. 50% on draws. -1.

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RYAN MURRAY. 7. Easily his best game as an Oiler. Saved a goal by deftly batting a puck off the goal line in the 3rd. Amazing hand-eye co-ordination. Scoring Chances 10-6, HDSC’s 5-1 on his watch. A hit and a block in 15: 35. Surely earned another game with that performance.

A day’s rest before they take on Carolina. And a big win to buoy their spirits.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins, on Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, and now on Mastodon at [email protected]

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