The final knockout Ice hockey star Leon Draisaitl experienced the fight for a place in the final of the Stanley Cup from the bench. The ailing Edmonton Oilers hockey pro got a breather on Monday (local time) after just over 25 minutes on the ice when Artturi Lehkonen scored in the second minute of overtime to make it 6-5 for the Colorado Avalanche.
The game and best-of-seven series came to an end. Draisatil and his colleagues found themselves in the loser role as the Denver team happily accepted the congratulations. The two-time NHL champion won the Western Conference Finals 4-0. In the final of the North American professional league NHL, the Avalanche, in which Augsburg’s Nico Sturm was not nominated, meet the New York Rangers or the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
For the Edmonton Oilers, on the other hand, the summer break begins. After a season in which more seemed possible after the change of coach in February, disappointment initially prevailed at Draisaitl. “It feels crappy at the moment,” said the 26-year-old from Cologne.
Despite a leg injury, Draisaitl fought his way through and put in a strong performance. He prepared four goals. The forward is only the second pro in NHL history to make at least seven three-point games in the playoffs. Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky even managed this feat three times.
Draisaitl’s congenial strike partner Connor McDavid also shone. He scored once and had two assists. Together, they become the ninth pair to each have at least 30 points in the playoffs. “I thought it was good that we didn’t give up on each other as a team,” said McDavid. “That’s a good sign, but we obviously missed the opportunity.”
Colorado acted more alert in the crucial moments and the Oilers lacked the quality behind Draisaitl and McDavid to master the test. The Canadian teams’ wait for their first title win since 1993 continues. Back then, the Montreal Canadiens had won the Stanley Cup.
The Oilers will try again next season. Draisaitl left no doubts about that after the end. “We want to go even further. We have to make sure we come back next season,” he said.
Former national coach Marco Sturm also believes that Draisaitl “will hopefully win the cup at some point”. But you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your shoulders, said the current assistant coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
The trophy, which traditionally every player of the winning team is allowed to present in their hometown, will not find its way to Cologne in 2022. Instead, he could be examined in Augsburg. Because Nico Sturm could be the fifth German after Uwe Krupp, Tom Kühnhackl, Dennis Seidenberg and Philipp Grubauer to win the oldest trophy in North American sport.