Yes! Yes! Yes! … the irony.
Back in 2017, Jordan Eberle was a member of the Edmonton Oilers, and he netted zero playoff goals in 13 games. On Tuesday night, back in Edmonton but as a member of the New York Islanders, he kept his current team’s Stanley Cup dreams alive with the 2-1 game-winner in double overtime.
“The boys battled hard tonight,” said Eberle postgame. “Obviously, to score that and continue to move and give ourselves another chance in a couple days is huge.”
The Islanders’ entered Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay railing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Defenseman Ryan Pulock broke the ice — and an 18-game goal drought — in the first period on the power play. In the middle frame, Victor Hedman knotted things up and then the scoring went silent.
Both teams goose-egged in the third, so the game headed to overtime. And then another. And looked as if it was headed for a third until less than eight minutes left in the period. Off a fanned shot by the Lightning’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Anders Lee and Eberle broke out 2-on-1. The Isles captain then feathered the pass to Eberle who buried it to keep his team alive.
Eberle has quite the knack for scoring big goals on Canadian soil.
In 2009 at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa, he scored “The Goal” against Russia with 5.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the semifinal game. Canada eventually won in a shootout — where he also scored — and then won the gold-medal game against the Swedes.
The following year, in his hometown of Regina, Sask., Canada trailed 5-3 in the gold-medal game to the U.S. with three minutes left. He notched two goals in the final 2:49 to tie things up, but the Americans would go on to win in overtime.
“It’s the biggest one in a long time for sure,” said Eberle with a laugh and a big smile. “First you have to have the opportunity to do it. This team has battled hard to get to where we are and we’re not finished.”
“I think it’s just his demeanor,” said head coach Barry Trotz about Eberle’s big-game goal scoring. “He puts a lot of pressure on himself sometimes when he’s not scoring. He has a pretty high level of expectations that he puts on himself, but I think he just enjoys those moments.”
Tuesday’s goal was just the sixth of the postseason for Eberle after potting 16 during the regular season. And while he may not have scored any playoff goals for the Oilers, he did score 165 in 507 games for Edmonton’s hometown team — and a key one for the Islanders at Rogers Place, which, by the way, goaltender Semyon Varlamov celebrated with style.
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