Dead and buried Edmonton Oilers stun Rangers with thrilling third-period comeback

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NEW YORK — If it hadn’t happened in the most famous arena in the world, no one would have believed it.

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Certainly no one who had watched the Edmonton Oilers fight their way through a potentially disastrous New York road trip.

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After losing 5-2 to the New Jersey Devils and 3-0 to the New York Islanders for their sixth and seventh loss in their last 10 games, the Oilers trailed 3-0 in the third period in Madison Square Garden, just 15 minutes away from flying home under the darkest cloud they’ve seen in years.

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Then it happened. The snake-bitten defender Evan Bouchard, who did not score a goal this year, scores at 4:39. And again at 7:32. Then Dylan Holloway, who had not had a goal in his young NHL career, equalized at 10:21.

Three goals in 5:42. Suddenly, the freezing Oilers spew fire and the New York Rangers struggle to come to terms with what just happened.

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Who wasn’t?

And then, in the finish everyone knew was coming, Leon Draisaitl blasts in the winning goal with 2:02 left in regulation.

Thus, a devastating defeat that could have broken the back of this team turns into the most exciting comeback in years.

“It was a good character win,” said Bouchard, who didn’t even want to think about what it would have felt like to come home from this trip 0-3, outscored 11-2 and dropped below .500 so late in the game. season for the first time since 2018. “Coming back like this is a match we have to remember.”

Who’s going to forget a four-goal comeback at Madison Square Garden?

“I knew the goals would come for us,” said Bouchard. “We had chances, we just couldn’t score. We just had to bite through. And once the first one went in, everything went in. We knew we had the offense to make a comeback.

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Even when they were losing, the Oilers pressed hard. They defeated New York 10–1 in the second period, and when the Rangers conceded a second goal at 2:32 p.m., it looked like it could be Edmonton’s night.

Then it didn’t.

New York scored twice in 1:55 to make it 3-0 after 40 minutes and it was time to put a fork in the Oilers.

Then it wasn’t.

The same Oilers team that came out in the second period imposed its will in the third, breaking the Rangers.

“I thought our team played great hockey,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft, whose club had 49 shots on the net. “It sounds strange, we were 3-0 behind, but I thought we played a very good second period. There were some individual mistakes we made in the goals conceded, but I thought we controlled most of the game.”

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The irony of this is that Woodcroft put together the superpower lineage, but Draisaitl and Connor McDavid didn’t get a point on equal strength. This time it was the kids who saved the day.

And the video coaches also played a big part in getting two Rangers goals off the board, one for a fraction of an inch offside in the first period and one for marginal goaltender interference that took a long time to judge in the second period .

“We were confident that neither was a fair goal,” said Woodcroft. “And in the end we were right.”

Holloway waited 17 games to score a goal and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

“That’s pretty special, a cool moment and a memory and a goal I’ll remember forever,” said the 21-year-old rookie. “It took me a bit of effort, but I’m glad I got the first one out of the way. It was really cool that it went in.”

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It is actually the second time this year that Edmonton has come back from a 3-0 deficit. The team also did it in the season opener against the Vancouver Canucks.

“It’s definitely not something we want to do too often, but it just shows that we have the firepower and team to push through,” Bouchard said. “Whether it’s one goal behind or three goals down, we have the team for the comeback.”

However, the Oilers aren’t fooling themselves into thinking that three-goal comebacks in the third period are anything but a rarity. They trailed 3-0 after 40 minutes against the Islanders and 3-1 after 40 minutes in New Jersey. While this one feels great, it’s no way to live.

“Obviously it’s a big character win, but we have to learn from our mistakes, and we also have to learn quickly,” said Draisaitl. “We can’t go down 3-0 every game. It’s exhausting for boys.

“But it’s a really big win for us and we need to build on that. It’s a step in the right direction, but we need to follow up on it. We can’t keep winning one, losing one, winning one, losing one. 500 won’t make the playoffs. We have to start winning some games consistently and do it the right way. I thought that third period was a nice step.”

Email: rtychkowski@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @Rob_Tychkowski

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) saves against New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) during the third period at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 26, 2022.
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) saves against New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) during the third period at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 26, 2022. Photo by Jessica Alcheh /USA TODAY Sports

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