Mark Letestu

King Leon: Draisaitl collects four points vs. Ducks to give Oilers a Game 1 win

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So far, the Edmonton Oilers had been showing that they can win tight, low-scoring playoff games. And then the third period of Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks happened.

The two teams entered the final frame tied 1-1, with smaller breaks and bounces being the story. Then just about everything happened in the third, with Leon Draisaitl guiding the Oilers to a 5-3 win to take a 1-0 series lead.

Draisaitl ended up with a goal and three assists, extending his point streak to three games (seven points during that span).

He wasn’t the only Oilers player to raise some eyebrows, and actually, the other two starring members were a lot more surprising. Mark Letestu seemed to make the early difference with two power-play goals, while low-scoring defenseman Adam Larsson found the net twice, including on the game-winner.

Phew, that’s a lot to absorb, right? This video captures the wildest scoring stretch of that period, even if there would be more:

While Connor McDavid hasn’t been bad, he’s been quiet – by his lofty standards – so far in the Oilers’ run, and that was mostly true on Wednesday. He ended up with a mere secondary assist in this one,

Yet, that might just be part of the good news for the Oilers. They advanced after McDavid had spotty series against the Sharks, and they just gave the Ducks their first postseason loss of 2017 with Draisaitl and others stealing the headlines.

Things got nasty at the end of this game, with key Ducks such as Ryan Getzlaf being prominently involved. Such moments make it clear that Anaheim isn’t likely to bow out of this one easily (and perhaps not gracefully?) but that should only make for a captivating Game 2.

That Game 2 airs Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; you can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Keep an eye on Oilers’ Slepyshev (the Ducks certainly should)

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The breaks and breakaways frequently went the Edmonton Oilers’ way as they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their first-round series. Those results have been more of a mixed bag for Edmonton against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tonight, though.

Anton Slepyshev is a great example of those ups and downs.

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Slepyshev used his speed to score a breakaway tally that ended up being the game-winner. (See here for those friendly breakaways.)

Slepyshev’s been burning the Ducks with his speed on Wednesday, but the Oilers have been burned in the process. For one thing, John Gibson turned aside this big chance shortly after Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead:

Later on in that same second period, Slepyshev got a step on the Ducks defense again. This time, he didn’t just fail to score; he took a goalie interference penalty for bumping Gibson.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being among those hitting posts, it might feel like it’s all against the Oilers this time around, but crossbars/postsanother theme from Edmonton’s Game 6 win vs. San Jose – have more or less balanced out.

And, one break really went Edmonton’s way: a Ducks defender broke his stick on the Oilers’ 5-on-3 opportunity, opening the door for a crucial Mark Letestu goal:

The end result is a 1-1 tie, but give the Oilers credit for not getting rattled. If Slepyshev can keep up his efforts, his speed could be a factor in a series that looks like it could be a real tug-o-war.

Oilers come roaring back, dominate overtime to defeat Sharks

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What else was Martin Jones supposed to do?

The San Jose Sharks goalie had played out of his mind, especially in overtime, making a number of unbelievable saves as the Edmonton Oilers applied relentless pressure in search of the winner.

Of the saves Jones made, his best came off Connor McDavid on a two-on-one rush — a game-saving stop at the time.

Jones came sprawling across the crease in desperation to make a spectacular left-pad stop on the Oilers star. It gave his Sharks teammates a chance to find their legs again.

But that never happened. San Jose didn’t register its first overtime shot until after the midway point of the period.

The Oilers dominated the overtime and finally ended it on a goal from David Desharnais, taking a 4-3 win and a 3-2 series lead. That puts the defending Western Conference champs on the brink of elimination in the opening round.

Edmonton had 14 shots on goal in overtime. San Jose? Only two. It was completely lopsided.

The Sharks now need a win in Game 6 to force a seventh and deciding game, after they were 2:46 away from winning Thursday’s contest in regulation and instead sending this series back to San Jose with the chance to close out the Oilers.

Instead, the Oilers came roaring back, erasing a two-goal deficit. It started with a massive McDavid hit on Marcus Sorensen, picked up momentum on a Mark Letestu goal late in the second period and continued with an Oscar Klefbom rocket of a slap shot off the post and in to tie the game late in regulation.

A big question heading into Thursday was how would the Oilers respond after such a bad loss in Game 4? They had a great start in Game 5, then watched as San Jose took over on the score board with three straight goals.

But every time the Oilers have been forced to respond after a bad game (think back to their win in Game 2 after opening the series with a loss, and then the same situation from Games 4 and 5), they’ve been up to the challenge so far.

“It’s a cliche, but we played on our toes tonight,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan. “We were aggressively hunting pucks.”

Oilers lose ground in Pacific Division race after loss to Kings

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The Anaheim Ducks won on Tuesday. The Edmonton Oilers did not.

And that has put the Ducks four points up on the Oilers for the Pacific Division lead in the final week of the regular season. Edmonton still has a game in hand.

While the Ducks were involved in a nasty contest with the Calgary Flames, the Oilers were on the wrong end of a 6-4 result against the L.A. Kings.

The Kings struggled down the stretch drive to score goals and that problem ultimately cost them a playoff spot. But against the Oilers, they suddenly erupted offensively, erasing a two-goal deficit and then completely taking over in the third period.

“We just weren’t as sound as we normally are… You don’t win any games giving up six goals,” said Mark Letestu.

“Nobody’s not trying, it’s just a matter of cleaning things up and I’m pretty confident in this group that’s going to happen,” added Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored a beautiful goal for his second of the night and 18th of the season.

The Oilers play the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They wrap up their schedule with a home-and-home series against the Canucks over the weekend.

Report: Oilers interested in acquiring Brian Boyle

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Sounds like Edmonton’s in the market for some size and depth at center, per the Journal:

If you’re wondering what Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has been up in full buyer mode to with the NHL trade deadline three weeks away, he’s been looking at third-line centres.

He was spotted in Minnesota a few days ago when Tampa Bay was there.

Chiarelli was looking at Lightning unrestricted free-agent Brian Boyle, who’s averaging almost 14 minutes a game, is winning more than 50 per cent of his draws and has 12 goals.

Boyle, 32, would certainly be a fit with the Oilers, especially in the size department.

Edmonton already boasts some big bodies at forward — Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Matt Hendricks — but all four play the wing. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Boyle would provide a size upgrade down the middle, given bottom two centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Letestu aren’t exactly the most physically imposing specimens.

Boyle also has a ton of playoff experience, with over 100 games and back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances with the Rangers (’14) and Lightning (’15). Last year, he scored five times in 17 postseason appearances.

Two things to note here.

One, it’s still unclear if Bolts GM Steve Yzerman will sell off any assets (yes, even a pending UFA like Boyle). Tampa’s made a push lately, going 3-0-1 in its last four, and is just four points back of the final wild card spot in the East.

Two, it’s interesting to hear that Chiarelli’s in the market for forwards because — for a good chunk of this season — the talk in Edmonton has been about upgrading the blueline.

Back in late December, head coach Todd McLellan addressed his club’s need for more on the back end.

“It’s Christmas and we all have wish lists,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We’re coaches and we’re never happy but when you talk of those type of players … say a power play quarterback, somebody who puts up points, we don’t have that.”

History suggests Chiarelli would be more than happy to oblige. In Boston, he made it a near-annual tradition of stocking up on defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.

Of course, the Oilers could be getting a boost on the back end with the return of Darnell Nurse, who’s been out since mid-December following ankle surgery. Nurse has resumed skating, and could be ready to rejoin the club in a few weeks.