We, as people, rarely forget our firsts. On Sunday night, my Edmonton Oilers made sure that I would never forget my first ever live playoff victory. Leon Draisaitl had the game of his life, scoring 3 goals and 2 assist in a 7-1 win over Anaheim in Game 6.
“[Draisaitl] stepped up big,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said. “We needed someone to step up and he’s stepped up like he has all season long. He came up huge for us when we needed it the most.”
Ducks goaltender John Gibson was pulled after allowing three goals on the first six shots. Obviously, he wants to be better than that. However, Jonathan Bernier, his replacement, did not fare much better. The two combined for seven goals against on the night.
As somebody who was sitting among “The Orange Crush” as the Oilers scored five first-period goals, I was beyond-words excited about the best Oilers period of hockey of my life.
“A first period like that, you give yourself such a big lead, and I thought all four lines were very dangerous tonight,” Draisaitl said. “Obviously, the season was on the line and we all had to step it up a notch and I thought the whole group did.”
Mark Letestu had two goals and two assists in the contest, and he has four goals in the series. I first saw Letestu play as a member of the Bonnyville Pontiacs in 2004-05 when I was a writer for the Alberta Junior Hockey League. It makes me extremely proud to see him having this type of success at the NHL level. Zack Kassian and Anton Slepyshev also scored, and Cam Talbot made 34 saves.
Obviously, this was an epic response after giving up 3 goals in the final 3:10 of regulation and losing in double overtime in Game 5. It was especially impressive given the controversial nature of the Ducks’ tying goal the other night. Plus, the Oilers were without two top defenseman in Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera, both of whom were injured in Game 5. Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart stepped in and had solid outings in this key Game 6 victory.
Perhaps even more surprising than the score in Game 6 was the fact that MVP front-runner Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet entirely. That’s just a testament of the depth on this team.
Thank you, boys, for this unforgettable experience! I will never forget the reaction of the fans after the game. The streets were crazy!
We are all about to witness another first for many of these young Edmonton Oilers as the team heads to Game 7. It will be the first Game 7 of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is a situation anybody who plays the game of hockey dreams of!
Featured Image via NHL.com