One of the interesting things about the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night was that new Oiler Zach Hyman scored the first hat trick of his NHL career. Well, actually he didn’t. Instead, a successful challenge by Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan on an offside call negated the goal and rendered Hyman sitting with only two goals instead of three goals. Obviously, it was disappointing for the first-year Oilers’ player who’s become such a stellar sidekick for Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid.
The Victory Wasn’t Easy for the Oilers, But They Gutted It Out
It was a difficult game for the Oilers, and it really looked as if the Penguins were going to come back and take the game over during the third period. However, Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen held the fort and kept his team in the game. In addition, the Oilers scored the third goal to go up by one. After that, it seemed that the Oilers’ fortunes turned, and they were on their way to victory.
When the Penguins pulled their goalie with about three minutes left in this contest, the Oilers were playing against a Penguins’ team with a man advantage. However, as it often happens, they were able to turn the tables on the Penguins, intercept a pass and break down the ice.
The Sequence of the Insurance Goal Against the Penguins
During that sequence, Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid broke in on a two-on-one with Hyman on his right. Every Oiler fan knew that McDavid wanted to pass the puck to Hyman. However, for as good a passer as McDavid is, he was simply unable to find his winger with the puck that would have completed the hat trick that had been just previously taken away from Hyman. McDavid had no choice but to put the goal in himself to secure the victory for his team.
When McDavid returned to his bench, he didn’t crack a smile. It was obvious that he had tried so hard to get the puck to Hyman; however, it was also obvious that he couldn’t. He had no choice but to score himself. He went all business.
Hat Tricks Don’t Come Easy in the NHL
McDavid was disappointed he couldn’t help Hyman score his hat trick. You could see it on his face. He had seen how much that hat trick meant to his teammate.
That event shows two things about McDavid as a leader. First, he thinks about his teammates. He had seen Hyman’s response to having the first hat trick of his career. Sadly, that response had been taken away. And, as a teammate and the team leader, he wanted his playing partner to receive those accolades.
Second, he knew the importance of the game and winning it. He wasn’t about to mess around with trying some pretty play that might or might not have worked. Such messing around could have easily backfired and sent the Penguins the other way for a goal. He wasn’t about to take that chance. He had no choice but to score himself.
McDavid Shows the Signs of a True Leader
In those two actions, (a) concern for a teammate’s success and (b) the desire to secure a game victory, McDavid showed two crucial qualities for a good NHL team leader. He’s the captain for a reason, and he showed it last night during that third period.
The Edmonton Oilers are lucky to have him as the captain of their team. And it isn’t because he is simply the best hockey player in the world. It’s also because he is one of the best leaders in the NHL.
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