While much of the spotlight was on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, who made his NHL debut, it was the young guns of the Edmonton that shined in a 3-2 win for the Oilers. The Lightning looked out of sync and out of control for much of the evening, failing to sustain any offensive pressure and making egregious errors with the puck in all three zones.
Early on, Jonathan Drouin generated a little buzz skating with Valtteri Filppula and Tyler Johnson on the second line. That line saw a couple of good looks on Ben Scrivens including a nice deflection by Drouin that the Edmonton netminder stopped.
The Lightning appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the first on a Brett Connolly shot from the left side, but the goal was waived off as it was ruled Brian Boyle had interfered with Scrivens. Boyle was outside the crease, but that doesn't really matter per the rule. Boyle impeded Scrivens' ability to defend his goal, which is enough for the refs to waive it off if they so choose. The consistency of this rule's application can still be debated, but it's application in this instance fits with the way it is currently written and the score remained 0-0.
The Lightning had a few power play chances early on, the first after Drouin drew a penalty on Jesse Joennsu with 7:19 remaining in the first with some slick puckhandling through neutral ice. But the Lightning power play continued to struggle to generate shots or shot attempts, routinely settling for perimeter passing or failing to even establish possession in the attacking zone.
With the attack flailing, Ben Bishop was the Lightning's best player early on and for much of the night, stopping a handful of odd-man rushes in the first and second periods given up by a new-look Lightning blue line with Mark Barberio inserted and Victor Hedman out nursing a broken finger.
While Connolly's 1st period goal was disallowed, the Bolts did get the benefit of a 4th line goal to open the scoring in the game. Brian Boyle, Brenden Morrow, and Brett Connolly worked a cycle game down low with some success. A ackhand feed to the slot by Boyle found it's way off Justin Schultz's stick and past Ben Scrivens for a 1-0 Lightning lead.
Schultz made up for it just three minutes later, though, on a nice play in tight to cut into the slot and lift a backhander towards the net. The puck hit the knob of Ben Bishop's stick and deflected in to tie the game 1-1.
Bishop had to make a few more quality saves including an outstanding one on a great scoring chance for Jeff Petry in close. Bishop also got some help from his goal posts, which stopped a couple of screened point shots. That kept the game tied until Matt Carle was forced to pull down Taylor Hall on a clean breakaway, giving the young superstar a penalty shot. Hall converted with a nifty deke past Ben Bishop and the Oilers carried a 2-1 lead (and the balance of play) into the second intermission.
Neither team could do much at 4v4 to start the third, outside Vlad Namestnikov finding a loose puck in the slot. He was robbed by Scrivens to keep the Oilers ahead. Jonathan Drouin also nearly tied it with a wraparound chance on Scrivens just seconds later.
With Ryan Callahan injured at some point in the second period, Jon Cooper was forced to shuffle up his forward lines in the third, which may have contributed to a continued uneven effort from Tampa Bay, who failed to generate much pressure on Edmonton and struggled to muster much in the way of dangerous looks on Ben Scrivens. The Lightning had a great chance on a long shot from the point that Valtteri Filppula actually inadvertently blocked, preserving the Oilers lead.
A high-sticking call on Vlad Namestnikov gave the Oilers a power play and a chance to put the game out of reach with under 10 minutes remaining, but they failed to do so.Their best chance actually came after the man advantage off the stick of rookie Leon Draisaitl, who pounced on a loose puck and was left all alone in front of the net but was stopped by Bishop. The Lightning quickly countered and tied the game shortly after when Brett Connolly finished a very nice no-look feed from Tyler Johnson in the slot.
Just as the Lightning looked like they might salvage a point out of a mess of a game, Ondrej Palat made an ill-advised exit pass through the middle of the ice that was picked off and fired home by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to restore the one-goal lead for the Oilers.
The Lightning were again listless and ineffective with the goalie pulled, failing to challenge Scrivens at all, falling by a final score of 3-2 and giving the Oilers their first victory of the season in their sixth game played.
- Jonathan Drouin skated 16:10 in his Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL debut, and did not look at all out of place. The challenge moving forward will be finding new line chemistry ...
- ... as the Lightning suddenly have a bevy of forward injuries to deal with and a game tomorrow in Calgary against the Flames:
- That could mean Luke Witkowski will make his NHL debut, since Radko Gudas does not yet appear ready to return from his lower-body injury. Killorn and Callahan also appear very unlikely to be good to go vs. the Flames. There likely isn't enough time to make another recall from Syracuse, so Jon Cooper will have to use all the healthy bodies he has on hand in night two of a back-to-back.
- The forward injuries might contain a silver lining -- Brett Connolly was probably the Lightning's best forward tonight, scoring a (at the time) game-tying goal and having another tally waived off in the first. If he -- and Jonathan Drouin -- get a chance to move into the top-9 and stay there, it could benefit the Lightning in the long-run when Killorn and Callahan return.
- Taylor Hall's penalty shot goal was notable:
If both Killorn and Callahan are unable to play tomorrow in Calgary, there are no extra forwards currently with the team so that means 7D— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) October 21, 2014