Wednesday, July 17, 2024

NHL Rewind: Oilers score Battle of Alberta victory in Heritage Classic, Ducks hand Bruins their first loss

Another week of the NHL season is in the rearview mirror, and the hockey has been excellent. There was so much action it was hard to keep up, but CBS Sports has you covered with the weekly NHL Rewind.

This past week saw the first outdoor game of the season in a matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, two teams in dire need of a win and some improved vibes around the facility. The Oilers got just that in front of a fired up crowd at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday night.

Elsewhere in the league, the upstart Anaheim Ducks handed one of the league’s best teams its first loss of the season in dramatic comeback fashion. Plus, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar dropped some jaws on Long Island.

Let’s take a look back at the best highlights and biggest storylines from the week that was in the NHL.

Goal of the week: Cale Makar walks through the Islanders

Every time Cale Makar touches the puck, something special can happen — and the New York Islanders were on the wrong end of special last week.

In the first period of the Colorado Avalanche’s win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Isles decided to execute a line change as Makar was picking up the puck in the neutral zone. Better decisions have been made.

As the Islanders were trying to regroup, Makar picked up a head of steam and crossed the offensive blue line. Makar swerved around Ryan Pulock like he wasn’t even there and flicked a backhand shot over the shoulder of Ilya Sorokin.

Makar made the play look relatively easy, but he just blew past NHL skaters and beat perhaps the best goalie in the NHL with the flick of a wrist. Makar now has nine points in his first eight games, and he already has eyes on the second Norris Trophy of his career.

Save of the week: Igor Shesterkin robs Andrei Kuzmenko at point-blank range

Igor Shesterkin has had an up-and-down start to the 2023-24 season. However, the New York Rangers goalie made quite a spectacular save against the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday.

With the game tied 3-3 in the overtime period, the Canucks had a huge opportunity to come away with two points. Just over a minute into overtime, Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko had the puck on his stick with multiple opportunities to win it.

Kuzmenko received a pass from teammate Elias Pettersson, and he made his way toward the slot in the offensive zone. The Canucks winger stick-handled the puck between his legs before getting in front and went backhand to forehand. 

Shesterkin stopped the initial shot with his glove, and Kuzmenko even had a chance to deposit his own rebound into the back of the net. However, Shesterkin was up to the challenge and gloved the rebound shot from point-blank range to freeze the puck.

It was easily one of the top individual efforts we’ve seen from a goaltender this season.

Oilers prevail in first outdoor Battle of Alberta

For the first time in the rivalry’s 43-year history, the Battle of Alberta was played outdoors on Sunday night. Both teams have been struggling out the gate, and the Edmonton Oilers got off the mat to get a decisive win over the Calgary Flames.

Offensive wizard Brett Kulak (19 career goals) got the scoring started with an excellent read in the offensive zone. Kulak dished the puck to a teammate, saw a seam to the net, and took it. No Flames even bothered to look at Kulak, and he finished a rebound kicked out by Jacob Markstrom.

The Oilers got into some penalty trouble in the first period, and that included a pair of 5-on-3 power plays for the Flames. Edmonton managed to kill off the first, and they got an odd-man rush when Leon Draisaitl got out of the box. He slid a perfect pass around Calgary defenseman Mackenzie Weegar, and Zach Hyman poked it into the net for a 2-0 lead.

One of the only signs of life the Flames showed all night was Nazem Kadri’s first goal of the season. It was probably good for him to get that weight off his shoulders, but that is about the only positive takeaway for the Flames.

Evan Bouchard gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead late in the first, and the Flames managed to cut it to 3-2 late in the second period, but the game was never that close. Edmonton was the better team for three periods, and it really put the game out of reach with Vincent Desharnais‘ first career goal that skipped over the shoulder of Markstrom.

Evander Kane capped off his three-point night with an empty-net goal, and the Oilers got two points and some badly needed good vibes. The Flames, on the other hand, continue to disappoint and are running out of time to get back on track.

Ducklings hand Bruins their first loss of the season

The Anaheim Ducks have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, and that makes them an incredibly fun team to watch. Well, that and their 30th anniversary Mighty Ducks of Anaheim jerseys.

The ducklings faced a tall task on Thursday. They were in Boston to play the undefeated Bruins, and they trailed 3-1 with under two minutes remaining. That’s when the Ducks’ young core stepped up and found a way to steal a win.

Leo Carlsson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 draft, started the comeback when he punched home a rebound for an empty-net goal with 1:55 left in regulation.That was his second of the season, and while Anaheim is trying to manage the rookie’s workload, he might be forcing his way into the lineup on a nightly basis.

The Ducks still needed one more goal, so they kept applying pressure and got a fortunate bounce to level the game. Troy Terry threw a pass into the low slot, and it ramped up off a Bruins stick and found its way into the net to force overtime.

In overtime, it was Mason McTavish playing the role of hero. McTavish, the No. 3 overall pick in 2023, took a great pass from Carlsson on a 2-on-1 and beat reigning Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark.

Last year, the Ducks were the worst team in the NHL with aging veterans and unproven young talent struggling to hold their own. This year, Anaheim’s young core looks much more competitive, and this is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining groups in the league.

Blackhawks dish Golden Knights their first defeat

The Vegas Golden Knights got off to a 7-0-0 start this season as they’ve begun the defense of their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. However, an unlikely team ended up getting the better of them in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks came away with a massive 4-3 overtime win on Friday to hand the Golden Knights their first loss of the 2023-24 season. 

Connor Bedard was one of four goal scorers for the Blackhawks. Bedard ended up scoring on a terrific chipped pass from fellow forward Nick Foligno when he snapped a quick shot past Golden Knights netminder Adin Hill.

The Blackhawks led the contest 3-2 in the third period, but Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore tied the game at the 11:28 mark, which ended up forcing overtime.

Just 2:50 into the extra session, Blackhawks forward Philipp Kurashev was able to take advantage of a power-play situation for his team. Kurashev utilized a spectacular screen from teammate Corey Perry and sniped the game-winning goal past Hill.

The Golden Knights did bounce back with shootout wins over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Still, it was a huge win for a young Blackhawks squad against a team that has looked downright dangerous throughout the early portion of the campaign.

Appointment viewing this week

Coyotes at Ducks | Wednesday, Nov. 1: As mentioned above, the Ducks have some really special young players, but they aren’t alone. The Coyotes are in a similar position, and it should be exciting to watch these teams go back and forth for 60 minutes.

Hurricanes at Rangers | Thursday, Nov. 2: The Metro Division is a three-team race this season, and these are two of the teams that will be vying for the crown. The Rangers are off to a hot start while the Hurricanes have been more inconsistent, but both sides should be at their best for this one.

Maple Leafs at Bruins | Thursday, Nov. 2: This is always a fun rivalry, and they are currently the top two teams in the Atlantic Division. Auston Matthews is off to an incendiary start, and the Bruins are chugging along despite the loss of Patrice Bergeron.

Avalanche at Golden Knights | Saturday, Nov. 4: Late October might be a little early for Western Conference Final preview talk, but that might be what this matchup is. Vegas and Colorado have been the top-two teams in the Power Rankings for the last couple of weeks, and that makes this a can’t-miss regular season game.

Bruins at Stars | Monday, Nov. 6: The Bruins’ schedule gets significantly tougher this week, and it will be interesting to see how they handle it as the difficulty increases. On Monday night, they have to visit the Dallas Stars, a legit contender for the Stanley Cup this season.

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