Oilers golden against Vegas
The idea was two-fold.
a) Despite your expansion team position in the NHL standings, prove you could at least beat the expansion team.
b) Return to being the team that was tough to play against in your own building and give the local customers something to cheer about.
The sputtering Edmonton Oilers looked like the 103-point team they were last year and the surprising Vegas Golden Knights looked like the expansion team they were expected to be.
Like so many games against first-year expansion teams, it was a game to pad your statistics, get out of the doghouse and make a game fun again in a notso-much-fun start to a season.
The Oilers ran up the score to 8-2, their highest number of goals this season and largest margin of victory.
The Oilers’ opponents had scored first in 10 of Edmonton’s first 17 games of the season. When the Oilers went to the dressing room with a 3-0 lead, it was an occasion to celebrate considering the way this season has started. And Connor McDavid didn’t have a point on any of those three goals.
McDavid finished the game with two goals and an assist to give him nine goals and 22 points for the season and move him into the top-10 in league scoring.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season, while snipes by Oscar Klefbom, Pat Maroon, Matt Benning and Mark Letestu got them at least one paw out of the doghouse.
Yohann Auvitu registered his first point as an Oiler, with Maroon, Klefbom, Letestu, Jujhar Khaira (2), Ryan Strome, Milan Lucic, Kris Russell, Zack Kassian and Leon Draisaitl (2) adding assists.
The only stats that didn’t get particularly padded belonged to goaltender Cam Talbot, who returned home to Rogers Place where he has a .894 save percentage this season, a complete contrast to his excellent .944 save percentage on road.
Giving up two goals on 24 shots didn’t change his much.
There’s been nothing seriously wrong with the Oilers on the road, where they’ve gone 3-3-2 overall and 2-1-1 on their most recent road trip.
The problem has been at home, where Edmonton won two of its previous eight games after that impressive but obviously not tone-setting season opening 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
Generally, the idea is to play no worse than .500 on the road and better than .667 at home. The Oilers went into the game playing .333 at home.
Last year, Edmonton achieved the 103-point season going 22-14-5 on the road and 25-124 at home. By Nov. 5, with that rancid 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers had already recorded their sixth home defeat of the season.
That’s where the home fans left the team. Rogers Place has went from the madhouse scene the team and the town created last season and especially in the playoffs, to essentially an arena full of fans giving the Oilers the silent treatment for most of the third period.
Only one game before reeking against the Red Wings, it looked like the Oilers had decided to get back to being that team that combined skill with winning the little battles and races and using their size, as exemplified by Adam Larsson with his 13 hits in that 6-3 win over New Jersey.
The shock of the stink-thejoint-out, get-away-day game against Detroit was there was zero follow-through traction from the example they provided themselves against the Devils. So, what to make of this one? There will be those who will point out the Oilers have produced points in the standings in four of their last five games. But it’s going to be a lot closer to Christmas before anybody declares the 2017-18 Oilers to be tracking like they were supposed to be tracking.
On the road trip, the Oilers decided to be a checking team. Much of what happened in the first period Tuesday may have resulted from starting there. But the rest was pretty much river hockey.
While the Oilers registered their first back-to-back wins of the season on the last road trip, they have yet to win two in a row at home. And you all remember what happened the last time they gave Edmonton fans a bunch of goals and a win at home. They totally soiled the sheets two nights later against Detroit.
So, make absolutely nothing of this. Nothing at all. But be back Thursday to see if they learned anything from their last onesided win in this rink.
The Edmonton Oilers had many occasions to celebrate Tuesday night, as they scored eight times on the visiting Vegas Golden Nights to record a big 8-2 victory at Rogers Place to kick off a homestand that continues Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.