The Edmonton Oilers were as good as Tom Kowal and Greg Kimmerly were bad.
And if you saw the dreadful train wreck of officiating Thursday night at Rexall Place, that's saying something.
On a night when the old Oilers might have thrown their arms up in frustration at what many veteran observers called the most poorly officiated game they've seen in years, the new Oilers didn't.
They threw them up in celebration instead, after Nail Yakupov tied it with 4.7 seconds left in the third period and Sam Gagner won it in overtime, giving them a wild-and-woolly 2-1 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings.
"If we do end up making the season special, I think this is a night that we can look back as being the start of it," said Taylor Hall. "I know it's only the third game, but for us to show the wherewithal to stick with it was very impressive."
It was nuts. Kowal and Greg Kimmerly called everything, real or imagined. Anything from faceoff violations to anything that resembled aggression was deemed illegal, resulting in 20 of the first 40 minutes being played on special teams.
They rang the teams up for 12 separate minors in the first 27 minutes alone, giving Edmonton the worst of it.
The Oilers played shorthanded for 10 of the first 14 minutes.
And still they kept fighting back.
"I was surprised I got an instigator because (Jordan Nolan) dropped his gloves first," said Smid, who took 19 minutes in penalties for a mutually-agreed upon bout. "I asked him if he wants to go and he said yes and dropped his gloves. Both sides were really frustrated with the penalties. I've never seen so many."
Then there was the phantom goaltender interference penalty that wiped out what would have been Ryan Nugent-Hopkins's tying goal with 1:05 left in regulation, resulting in a wave of half-priced litter on the ice at Rexall.
And still, there was no I in quit.
"We score with a minute left in the game and it's waved off," said Smid. "Then we score again with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. It was a bizarre night, honestly for both teams, but I'm glad we were able to come back and win it.
"I think we showed lots of character."
Last-minute Yakupov goal propels Edmonton Oilers to 2-1 win over L.A. Kings
Edmonton Sun | Jan 25