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Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored on Calgary’s Brian Elliott on his first NHL penalty shot Oct. 16, 2016, early in his second season, but he’s gone 0-for-3 since.
He’s had the last three Oiler penalty shots: here against New York Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson and the Carolina Hurricanes’ James Reimer, and in Pittsburgh, where Penguins ‘tender Matt Murray stopped him.
The puck bounced crazily on McDavid’s penalty shot at 1:48 of the third period Tuesday after Hurricanes defenceman Brett Pesce stuck his glove on a loose puck in the crease when it was unnecessary because Reimer was in position to save it anyway. On the shot, Reimer — who was beaten by Leon Draisaitl on one when he played in Florida Feb. 12, 2018 — breathed a sigh of relief when McDavid lost the puck.
“I must have intimidated him. I really scared him. Probably saw half the net and didn’t know what to do, surprised him,” joked Reimer. “I wasn’t expecting that, that’s for sure. Luckily that happened.”
The Oilers have scored on only five of their last 15 penalty shots, and you’d be surprised with two of the successful ones: Marc Pouliot in 2007 and Andrew Miller in 2015. Taylor Hall, Draisaitl and McDavid have the others.
Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian. IAN KUCERAK / POSTMEDIA
ORNERY IS JUST FINE
Oilers winger Zack Kassian may have taken some heat for his first-period penalty when he bowled over Martin Necas with 10 seconds left and Ryan Dzingel scored six seconds later on the power play to make it 3-0 for Carolina, but getting the only penalty for his goalmouth tussle with Reimer in the third was bogus.
When Sebastian Aho scored on the ensuing power play, Kassian cleared his throat and got a misconduct after leaving the box.
But this is why we like Kassian. His temperature rises. The Oilers could use more of what he brings, frankly.
And his two goals against the ‘Canes were, as usual, 5-on-5. He has 11 goals, all even-strength, the same number of five-on-five tallies as McDavid. All 21 of Kassian’s points are even-strength, too.
LOTS OF EMPTY SEATS
Overlooked in Oilers’ 6-3 loss to Carolina was the announced attendance of 16,175 at Rogers Place, and there were actually fewer people than that in the building.
That’s more than 2,000 under capacity at Rogers Place, and the lowest crowd count in maybe 15 years. They had a run of 549 straight sell-outs over 13 years (131 regular-season and playoffs at Rogers Place since it opened in 2016) until that ended Nov. 16 in Game 3 of the current season when the Philadelphia Flyers visited Rogers Place.
The economy isn’t good, Carolina’s not a great draw even if they made the conference finals last season, and it was a Tuesday, before Christmas, the fourth game of a homestand.
Never mind only making the playoffs once since 2006. But the Oilers have hit critical mass like so many other teams. While you can buy pretty cheap sell-off tickets online, prices for food and drink are way too high for a family.
The Oilers were chasing the game in the third period against Carolina, down 3-1 to start it, but it was still strange that Kris Russell played only three shifts and 2:32 in the last frame while his third-pairing partner Caleb Jones got seven and a half minutes in the third.
Russell finished with 11:48 of ice time and Jones 16:17. True, they were looking for some offence and Jones might provide more, but did Russell get hurt and they were holding him back?
This ’n’ that: Plus/minus is often misleading because it’s not always your fault when a goal’s scored and you’re on the ice, but Oscar Klefbom is going through a horrible stretch. He’s minus-15 in his last seven games and is minus-20 on the season. Part of that is his rotating set of partners — Joel Persson, Caleb Jones, Adam Larsson and others — but one of the game’s best two-way defenders is really struggling … In the last eight games, the Oilers have been outscored 20-8 even-strength. They are feasting off their power play (31 goals of 100 total goals) but if that ever goes cold, look out … James Neal had that incredible first month with 11 October goals but he has three in 19 games since. He’s minus-17 on the season because he has just four even-strength goals and six even-strength points. Hey, we knew he would cool off, right? … Louie DeBrusk is still ill so Drew Remenda once again was Kevin Quinn’s colour commentator for the Oilers-Hurricanes game. With the recent death of his mother Gina, Gene Principe didn’t work as Oilers TV host Tuesday and won’t Thursday in Minnesota. Sean Reynolds came in from Winnipeg for the Carolina home game and is also doing the broadcast for the Wild tilt … Mr. Game 7 Justin Williams continues to skate with retired Carolina goalie Cam Ward in Raleigh and hasn’t shut the door on a return in the New Year, even though he’ll really be chasing a train that’s left the station. “He’s pretty tight-lipped and he’s skating, which is obviously a sign, but the next month will be the tell-tale sign, I guess,” said the Canes’ Jordin Martinook … Rod Brind’Amour’s son Skyler, the Oilers’ sixth-round pick in 2017, is in his first year of college hockey at Quinnipiac. He has six points in 15 games, good for a freshman who doesn’t get to play much. “He’s definitely progressing and he’s enjoyed his time here. He’s been treated excellently by the Oilers. At every camp, he’s raved about it,” said Brind’Amour.