The Battle of Alberta produced a surprise winner in a surprising way when the Edmonton Oilers best the Calgary Flames in overtime in Game 5 to win the Western semi-final series four games to one on the road. First, when the series began the smart money was on the Calgary because they had dominated the Pacific Division. Second, even if the Oilers would have won, to do it in only five games was a bit of a gob-smacker.
In this post, I’ll look at four key players who contributed heavily to the Oilers’ win in five games to their arch rival the Flames.
Related: Oilers Beat Flames In 5: Crazy Series Ends In Crazy Fashion
Contributor One: Leon Draisaitl Piles on four more helpers
Leon Draisaitl was injured during this series, but you would have never known it to watch him play. Last night, he assisted on four of his teammates’ goals to help carry the team to the win. Three of his assists were primary, which is an amazing total in itself. As his coach Jay Woodcroft noted after the game, Draisaitl is the best passer in the game (then he said “the world”).
What Draisaitl has done in this series is historic. In all five games of the series, he’s had three or more points. For the series against the Flames, he ended the five games with two goals and an amazing 15 assists. Including the first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, he’s scored seven goals and an amazing 19 assists in 12 games. That ties him with the postseason scoring leadership with none other than his great teammate Connor McDavid.
Contributor Two: Connor McDavid Scores Game Winner & More
Speaking of McDavid, although he noted that he was off his game tonight, he was there when it counted to score the game-winning and the series-winning goal on a feed from none other than Draisaitl. It was the first game of the series when McDavid did NOT have a multiple-point night. But he sure showed up when it counted.
The 25-year-old McDavid has been nothing but amazing against the Flames; however, over the past two games McDavid has been slowed down by the Flames relentless checking, It surely looked as if Calgary was working hard and checking hard to close out McDavid’s space to operate.
The Flames did just that, and it almost worked – and almost is the operative word.
On the postseason, McDavid now has seven goals and 19 assists in 12 games. He’ll lead his Oilers into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in his career. It isn’t for sure who the Oilers will face. It will either be the Colorado Avalanche or the St. Louis Blues.
Contributor Three: Mike Smith Battles for the Win
Mike Smith is so fun to watch. He isn’t the most technically sound goalie, but he’s a battler. Last night, he won his fourth straight postseason game and held his team in the game after the Flames took another 2-0 lead in this game as they had in two others.
However, after a crazy second period where both teams scored two goals each in a span of 71 seconds and the Oilers scored four goals in total, Smith held the Flames off the score sheet in the third period and kept stopping the puck until McDavid’s game-winner. As a fan, it’s hard not to root for the 40-year-old goalie.
Contributor Four: Zach Hyman Shows Why the Oilers Paid Him Well
Zach Hyman seems to get overlooked during the media conversations after the game, but he’s hard to miss while the game is being watched. He’s a dominating definition of work ethic in motion. He can, and will, play any kind of a game the opposition allows. Nobody is better at puck-battling.
But Hyman also shows up on the score sheet night in and night out. Last night he had a goal and two assists in the overtime win. He also had a breakaway that was stopped by Flames’ goalie Jacob Markstrom. He’s been a buzz saw for the Oilers.
After the game when speaking to the media, Oilers’ head coach Woodcroft noted that he switched Hyman with Evander Kane at the start of the second period as a way to energize the team’s first line. It worked. The Oilers picked up their pace and roared back to tie the game 4-4 at the end of the second period.
During the Flames’ series, the 29-year-old Hyman has scored six goals and two assists in five games. During the playoffs he now has scored eight goals and four assists (for 12 points in 12 games). He’s showed fans this series why the Oilers chose to sign him for such a large salary.
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