Tucker Poolman scores his first Stanley Cup playoff aim as Winnipeg closes Connor McDavid and Edmonton
Their task was to slow down soon-to-be NHL MVPs Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers duo and the top two goalscorers in the league during the regular season.
Tucker Poolman did better.
The East Grand Forks Senior High and UND defender scored his first goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs and helped shut down the Winnipeg Jets, McDavid and Draisaitl in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Winnipeg won 4-1 and took the lead in the best-of-seven series.
Poolman’s goal fell at 11:02 in the second period and equaled the game to make it 1-1.
On goal, Poolman won the offensive blue line, made a drop pass to teammate Blake Wheeler and then drove a track to the net. Wheeler fired a shot that was stopped by Oilers goalkeeper Mike Smith, but Poolman hit Oilers defender Adam Larsson to rebound and slid five holes at him.
It marked Poolman’s first goal of the season. During the regular season, Poolman had no goals and one assist in 39 games. His last goal was against Arizona on March 9, 2020.
It was Poolman’s first Stanley Cup playoff goal. His last playoff goal came when he was a sophomore at UND. Poolman scored in the 2016 NCAA regional semifinals against Northeastern in Cincinnati. The Fighting Hawks won the NCAA National Championship that season.
“These are playoffs, man,” said Wheeler. “If you want to be successful in the playoffs, you have to have guys moving up.”
Poolman, the 2017 National Collegiate Hockey Conference Defensive Defender of the Year, wasn’t the only unlikely goalscorer for Winnipeg. Former Minnesota Duluth striker Dominic Toninato, the NCHC’s 2017 Defensive Forward of the Year, also scored his first NHL goal of the season to make it 2-1 for Winnipeg.
“This is really very much in line with playoff hockey,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “We have seen that so often. The ability in a way cancels itself, and it’s the guys who go into the net, put a puck in the net, stand in front of the net… that’s their game all year round. Playoff hockey is becoming their game and they are good at it. “
Poolman, Lila, LaDue
With his goal, Poolman joined a rare society.
He was the first East Grand Forks player to score an NHL playoff goal. He’s only the third from Greater Grand Forks to do it, alongside Fido Purpur and Paul LaDue.
Purple scored a Stanley Cup playoff goal as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1944. His goal came in the semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings.
LaDue scored a Stanley Cup playoff goal as a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2018. His goal came against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Jets Slow Down Oilers
McDavid led the NHL with a staggering 105 points in 56 regular season games. Draisaitl was second in the league with 84 points. Nobody else in the NHL reached 70.
But McDavid and Draisaitl had no point in Game 1 against the Jets. An eight-game points streak ended for McDavid, who had 21 points that run. McDavid didn’t have a shot on goal in the first two periods.
“You have to expect a team with the top two goalscorers in the league. There will be periods of this game where they will control one offensively,” said Maurice. “They were in with us, they had zone time and they put a few scrum pucks on the net. But we could still tone down some of the odd-man (rushes) or even the tough two-on-one games on the corner of yours own end. Our stratification wasn’t that bad. “
Poolman played 18:17 and had a plus-2 rating. Former UND defender Derek Forbort played 21:09 for the Jets and was Plus-2.
Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. in Edmonton.
“It’s a game,” said Maurice. “I thought both teams were a bit hesitant in some of their early games with the puck, which is understandable. It was a bit more physical at times, so not many moves were made. Neither team made much of the onslaught.” tonight, which is only prototypical for playoff hockey. I thought they did a better job getting to our gates and throwing pucks. (Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck) was really good in heavy traffic within two feet of the blue color. This is an area where we need to improve.
“I think we’ve all watched a lot of playoff hockey. You know this is what the game looks like at some point. And that’s what it looked like tonight.”