Bet won for Oilers head coach: Kris Knoblauch has balls made of hardened steel

Bet won for Oilers head coach: Kris Knoblauch has balls made of hardened steel
Bet won for Oilers head coach: Kris Knoblauch has balls made of hardened steel

EDMONTON | It took balls of hardened steel to choose to send Calvin Pickard in front of the net in a game that his team should not lose.

After all, in 15 years of professional career, the 32-year-old goalie’s playoff experience was limited to four games and one period.

Kris Knoblauch still won his bet. Pickard calmly turned aside 19 of the 21 shots Canucks players directed his way. In doing so, he helped the Oliers win 3-2 and, at the same time, level the series at two victories on each side.

“He looked like a guy who had already played 100 playoff games,” said Knoblauch, not a little proud of his shot, after the game.

Getty Images via AFP

Comfortable from the start

Veiled by Dakota Joshua, Pickard saw nothing of Conor Garland’s throw, the first to deceive his vigilance. Joshua was also in Pickard’s hands when he deflected Brock Boeser’s shot.

“I tried to control my emotions as much as possible. It wasn’t easy because of the importance of the match for us, said the New Brunswicker, elected second star of the match. But, I felt comfortable from the start. »

In fact, when you think about it, Pickard even though he had hardly played in the NHL over the last six seasons, before his recall in November, could not do worse than Stuart Skinner.

In three games against the Canucks, the Albertan had given up 11 times on 58 shots, for an atrocious efficiency rate of .793. Adding his starts against the Kings, his efficiency rate increases to .877. Since the 1980-81 season, this is the seventh lowest rate after eight starts.

It now remains to be seen whether Knoblauch will continue the adventure with Pickard or whether he will return with Skinner.

“I haven’t made a decision on it yet, but the way it [Pickard] has worked allows us to have full confidence,” he said.

The two-headed monster divided

That said, the evening almost turned into a nightmare for the Oilers. Up 2-0, they saw the Canucks score two goals in the third period, including one that tied the score with less than two minutes remaining in the third period.

For 62 seconds, we thought this match would require overtime. It was at this moment that Evan Bouchard beat Arturs Svilovs with a point shot. On the sequence, Leon Draisaitl collected his second point of the match.

“When you give Bouchard a chance to have a good shooting line like that, usually it goes in,” said Vincent Desharnais.

Speaking of the German, he was at the heart of another successful decision from Knoblauch. Looking for a solution to stimulate the production of his forwards, until then the affair of a single trio, the Oilers pilot deployed Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on separate trios [à l’exception de quelques présences éparpillées ici et là].

The strategy paid off as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made the red light shine for the second time in the playoffs. It was just the eighth goal for an Oilers forward whose last name isn’t McDavid, Draisaitl or Hyman.

That did not prevent the representatives of the Alberta capital from using their weapon of choice, the massive attack, to open the scoring.

Draisaitl, who others, assisted by a sublime pass from McDavid, allowed the Oilers to hit the target on a power play in a ninth straight game. This is the longest streak in the history of the dealership.

The two teams now meet in Vancouver on Thursday for the fifth match of this series.

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