Despite having (arguably) the best hockey player in the world on their roster, the Edmonton Oilers have underwhelmed pretty tremendously this year.
Except for when they’re facing the Vegas Golden Knights, that is.
The Golden Knights may be one of the best teams in hockey, but the not-very-good Oilers have surprisingly given them fits all season. The Knights’ first opportunity to defeat their division rival came in November, but they were run out of Rogers Place after being walloped 8-2. They were much more competitive in their second meeting with Edmonton in January, but they still went on to lose that game 3-2 in overtime.
Thursday night, though, Vegas had a third opportunity to take down Connor McDavid’s Oilers. This time, they’d be the ones getting the two points.
The game didn’t get off to the most exciting start, but Vegas did manage to get on the board first after Ryan Carpenter knocked in a juicy Deryk Engelland rebound to take the one-score lead.
Things picked up a bit in the second period. At least for the Golden Knights.
Around four minutes into the middle third, Jonathan Marchessault tipped a Nate Schmidt wrister past Cam Talbot to pick up his 21st goal of the season.
A little later in the period, William Karlsson took advantage of a McDavid hooking penalty by scoring his 30th of the season to give Vegas the 3-0 lead.
Just before Karlsson’s tally, Marc-Andre Fleury made a huge save to neutralize a shorthanded two-on-one rush.
The scoring wouldn’t end there, though. Erik Haula kept the party going in the final period just as a Vegas power play expired, scoring his 22nd goal of the season. The goal was briefly reviewed to determine whether Haula kicked the puck past Talbot, but the call on the ice would remain unchanged.
Edmonton nearly spoiled Fleury’s shutout, but the 33-year-old goaltender got a little help from the iron to keep the Oilers off the board.
A few minutes later, though, Leon Draisaitl did get one past Fleury. No free doughnuts this time, guys.
Soon after Draisaitl’s goal, Colin Miller (!) dropped the gloves with Jujhar Khaira. Predictably, things didn’t go too well for Miller.
Miller may have lost the fight, but he’d get the last laugh when the clock hit triple zeros. After losing their first two games against the Oilers, Vegas finally beat their division rival to reach 80 points on the season.
Beating a bad team usually isn’t something to get too excited about, but this one must feel pretty good for Vegas. Not only did the Golden Knights beat the team that’s had their number all season, but they also kept McDavid in check all night, holding the 21-year-old phenom to zero points and a minus-one rating.
With this win, the Golden Knights have officially beaten every team in the Pacific Division. This also gives them a little breathing room as the top team in the Western Conference.
Vegas will return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. PT when they take on the Montreal Canadiens in the fourth contest of their seven-game homestand.