The Edmonton Oilers have been an easy target for criticism early in this NHL season.
But on Monday, not only did they get their first win of the season, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, expected to be one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference, by a final score of 3-2, but they showed some resolve when needed.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the winner with 3:25 remaining in regulation. From a prime spot, he snapped a wrist shot past Ben Bishop for his first goal of the season.
Timing is everything.
Not only that, but the goal came less than three minutes after the Lightning and Brett Connolly tied the game at 2-2. At their worst last week, allowing 13 goals combined in two games against L.A. and Arizona, the Oilers couldn’t defend and couldn’t get quality goaltending.
Heck, even after the first game, a disgruntled fan tossed an Oilers jersey on to the ice following an Edmonton loss.
Despite a more improved effort, the Oilers still lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, resulting in their worst start in franchise history. With the Lightning in town, it looked like it could get much worse.
But after giving up the first goal early in the second period, Edmonton began to claw back.
Justin Schultz evened the score and then Taylor Hall, dangerous for most of the night, was rewarded with a penalty shot in the second period and he made no mistake with a sweet deke to the backhand.
The only NHL team without a win this season: The Carolina Hurricanes.