How Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers ran ragged on the Ducks to force a Game 7
After an emotional and incredible Game 5 comeback win in Anaheim, the Ducks had a chance to put away the Oilers and advance to the conference final on Sunday night.
Not only did they fail, they got absolutely destroyed.
It was a pure bloodbath straight from the start. The Oilers scored five times in the opening period of Game 6, sending the home crowd into an absolute frenzy and creating a spectacle to behold.
The star of the night was Leon Draisaitl, or the Oilers’ most promising young forward not named Connor McDavid. The 21-year-old German stud might get a bit overlooked because of McDavid’s star power (he’s basically the Malkin to Edmonton’s Crosby) but it’s important to remember he had 77 points during the regular season. Opponents should be very afraid of him.
You can argue that his excellent stat line this season was largely helped by playing on McDavid’s line for much of the year, but Draisaitl reminded us all on Sunday night that he doesn’t need McDavid to be great. He had one hell of a night in a must-win elimination game and he did so while playing away from No. 97.
After being dropped down to Edmonton’s second line — centering Milan Lucic and Anton Slepyshev — to help spread out the Oilers’ offensive firepower, Draisaitl recorded his first career playoff hat trick and had five points in the Oilers’ 7-1 win.
In addition to offensive dominance, he also helped contain Ryan Getzlaf, who has been a monster for much of this series for the Ducks. Getzlaf was held without a point on Sunday.
Edmonton came out flying and they deserve credit for that, but there really are no words to describe just how bad Ducks goalie John Gibson was in his very short night of work. Gibson was pulled less than nine minutes into the game after facing just six shots and allowing three goals. All three of those goals managed to sneak either between his legs or under his pads and were stoppable shots.
Yes, it was a very bad night for Gibson indeed. It wasn’t that much better for Jonathan Bernier either. Anaheim’s backup came in and gave up four goals on 29 shots, though two of those goals came on the power play.
The Oilers also got a significant offensive contribution from Mark Letestu, who finished with two goals and two assists on the night. The only Edmonton line to finish without a point on the night was the Benoit Pouliot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle line. They were also on the ice for Anaheim’s only goal, scored by Rickard Rakell.
Also held without a point on Sunday? Uh…Connor McDavid.
If you were to tell me that the Oilers would hang seven on the Ducks with a goose egg attached to their 100-point man on the box score, I’d probably call you crazy. But as they often do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, things got crazy.
Now the series will head back to Anaheim for a Game 7, and all that’s on the line is a chance to face the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final. For the Ducks, what lies ahead is either incredible relief or complete and utter crushing disappointment, though one that the team is entirely familiar with at this point.
With a loss on Wednesday, this would be the fifth straight season in which the Ducks are eliminated in a Game 7 on home ice after losing the preceding Game 6.
Maybe history repeats itself, but if anybody knows that a team can bounce back from a crushing loss in these playoffs, it’s the Edmonton Oilers.