I’m sure James Neal, 32, has had many huge matches. He’s been involved in many playoff series, but as regular season games go, his four goal outburst against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night will surely be in the running for his own unforgettable game.
He was King Midas of the Ice Palace with almost every puck he shot transforming into a goal. Yet not one of them was a cheapie.
James Neal becoming Real Steal with dominant start to Oilers tenure
Of course, the night is all the more memorable because he had a wasted, horrid and humiliating season in Calgary last year, scoring just seven goals the entire year. He now has six in three games for the Oilers. Praise be to Ken Holland, once more, for pulling off that trade.
In the end, the Oilers’ 5-2 win was well deserved with Edmonton outchancing the New Islanders 14 to three (running count).
Leon Draisaitl, 8. Another beast mode game. Great hustle early on a PK to drive and stab the puck out of the Edmonton zone, then made a nice neutral zone pass to set up a hard-driving McDavid for a “B” scoring chance shot. On the power play, his turnover led to a New York Islanders breakaway and goal. In the second, Draisaitl struck back, setting up Neal for his hattie goal with a beautiful feed into the crease. A moment later more Draisaitl and McDavid magic came as they whipped the puck back and forth across the Royal Road (the centre area of the d-zone) to set up Zack Kassian.
Connor McDavid, 8 He kicked off one of the most gorgeous goal scoring sequences you’ll see this year, firing cross-seam to Draisaitl on the power play. Looking fast and dangerous out there, like he and Draisaitl have found a new level.
James Neal sets #LetsGoOilers record for most goals thru the teams first 3 games of a season with 5.
Zack Kassian, 7. He fired off a decent power play shot in the first period, then went hard to the net and drained the Oil’s fourth goal.
Edmonton coach Dave Tippett has 555 NHL wins; his next victory would tie Marc Crawford for 21st in League history. … Draisaitl has five points (one goal, four assists) in two games for the Oilers. … New York is 10-0-2 in its past 12 home games against Edmonton. The Oilers havent won in regulation at Nassau Coliseum since Dec. 14, 1999. … Bailey will become the sixth to play 800 NHL games with the Islanders. The 30-year-old forward was their first-round pick (No. 9) in the 2008 NHL Draft.
Tomas Jurco, 6. He was solid with the puck and was rewarded with an assist on Neal’s fourth goal.
Sheahan, who was injured in Edmontons preseason finale against the Calgary Flames on Sept. 28, will be activated off injured reserve and make his Oilers debut. … Koskinen, a second-round pick (No. 31) by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft, will start his first game of the season for the Oilers. … Cizikas, who took a maintenance day Monday, participated in an optional morning skate and will play.
RNH, 7. He jumped on a slot pass from Neal early in the game to get off Edmonton’s first Grade A chance of the game. Nuge did enough battling to force a turnover leading to Neal’s goal. A solid effort from RNH, who is a key part of a dangerous Oilers power play crew.
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James Neal, 10. Oh, so sweet to see a sniper in action. Neal’s first period bullet was the kind of goal only Draisaitl netted last year. He blasted it in off a bad Derick Brassard turnover. Next, he took his time working a low post passing play on the power play with McDavid before cooly pivoting and firing in a goal. Scored one more on the power play, finishing off the feast that Draisaitl and McDavid’s set on the table before him. His fourth goal came on a nifty one-timer from a sharp angle. In total, Neal had eight shots on net, five of them Grade A’ers.
Jujhar Khaira, 8. I had doubted a line with Khaira and Sheahan had enough speed to get the job done but they proved me wrong this game. I hope they continue to do so. Khaira came out in the first period like the Jujhar Khaira we have always hoped to see, skating hard, using his body and flashing some kill to set up numerous shots and a few Grade A chances. In the second period, his turnover led a dangerous Mathew Barzal opportunity. But he cranked it up again on some impressive shifts cycling the puck as the game went on.
Oilers center Connor McDavid has five points (two goals, three assists) in two games. He had a goal and three assists in a 6-5 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Riley Sheahan, 7. All kinds of good work in the offensive zone from this line. Sheahan won a battle and then screened the goalie as his line got two Grade A chances in quick succession late in the first. But his o-zone turnover led to Anthony Beauvillier breakaway and shot off the post.
Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson is expected to make his NHL debut. The 19-year-old was a first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2018 Draft.
Patrick Russell, 7. First took a one-timer pass from Khaira, then tipped the puck on two Grade A chance shots in the first. He worked hard all night and will surely get another game because of it.
The Edmonton Oilers will try for their third straight win when they play the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.
Joakim Nygard, 6. He’s got speed and aggression going for him, which we saw as he went hard to the net on a Grade A chance late in the second.
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Gaetan Haas, 6. I continue to be impressed with Haas’ defensive acumen. He knows where to position himself to head off trouble, though he did fail to stop the cross-seam pass on the second New York goal.
Darnell Nurse, 7. He laid down the law early, rubbing out star Isles attacker Mathew Barzal along the boards. Nurse kept it up with a brutal but legal open hit on puck-carrying Leo Komarov, shoulder to chest as I saw it. I had hoped Nurse would crank it up and play better teamed up with a superior passer of the puck like Bear, and that’s what we’re seeing. Nurse is best as a two-way aggressor, not a shut-down d-man.
Ethan Bear, 7. Sharp moves with the puck to get time and space and make a strong pass or clearance. Playing like a 10-year veteran right now.
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Oscar Klefbom, 7. He was moving like $10 million out there until he took a stick in the face from Brock Nelson. But he came back and kept up the solid play. Led the team with almost 27 minutes of playing time. So good right now.
Neal then put Edmonton ahead with a power-play goal after the Islanders Brock Nelson was whistled for a double-minor for high-sticking. Neal, standing to the right side of the net in front of the goal line, got a pass from McDavid and quickly put it past Varlamov with 30.3 seconds to go in the first.
Joel Persson, 6. In first half of the game, he looked tentative making plays. Halfway through the second, though, with Edmonton up 4-1, he finally showed some offensive merit, wheeling deep and around the New York net. He looked more settled after that.
Kris Russell, 7. He made a quick rush and got off a Grade A chances off a Granlund feed in the first. Solid on defence all game.
“Its the best game weve played so far,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “More towards the team game were looking for. We worked hard, managed the puck pretty well most of the time. Discipline was pretty good, power play was pretty good.”
Mikko Koskinen, 6. Not much in the way of difficult shots. He got beat on New York’s first two good chances, but one of them hit the post. Koskinen wasn’t otherwise tested much early, but was nonetheless solid on some hard outside shots with heavy traffic.
3h ago Oilers Neal has four goals against Isles James Neals hot start to the season continued Tuesday against the New York Islanders, with the veteran forward netting four goals for the Edmonton Oilers. TSN.ca Staff
James Neals hot start to the season continued Tuesday against the New York Islanders, with the veteran forward netting four goals for the Edmonton Oilers.
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Neal scored two goals in the first period, including one on the power play, before completing the hat trick in the second period on the power play. The 32-year-old added his fourth goal in the third period.