You want to hand it to the Oilers.
Despite a shameful first period, it was no small feat climbing their way out of a four goal hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everyone they needed to show up did - Roy, Yakupov, Pouliot, Nuge, Eberle, Lander. Everyone chipped in but it was for naught. You get the sense that every moral victory they win feels considerably less victorious than the last one.
The Oilers arrived in Pittsburgh pondering the futility of life, presumably.
They stood through the national anthems at Consol Energy Centre as though they had no business being there and the outcome was already decided. As the puck hit the ice, they could feel nothing, they watched life move in slow motion, and they each said silent prayers that maybe none of this was really real. I assume. That’s how they played the first period, anyway.
Even though the first four Penguins goals went in from only 13 shots, you can’t really blame Ben Scrivens entirely. All of the Oilers looked completely bewildered for the entire first period while the Penguins operated at a tempo twice as fast their own.
The Penguins’ Brandon Sutter came popping right out of the box with a chance or two before eventually robbing Justin Schultz at the blueline for a breakaway and scoring a shorthanded goal. And then five minutes later he got a second goal. And then it got ugly.
The Oilers slid their way down to a 3 - 0 deficit.
You could only feel sorry for Oscar Klefbom as he bounced off Sidney Crosby while Sid did whatever he wanted. Justin Schultz looked unsure and indecisive.
Then at the end of the first a beautiful angel of hope appeared - Matt Hendricks. He sacrificed his face to some Ian Cole punches and in turn threw some punches of his own. He chirped at the Oilers bench on his way off his ice and that was enough to pull them back to cold, hard reality.
The Oilers, eventually, actually had some commendable moments. Nuge and Letang got into a heated exchange. They were both handed penalties and young Nuge continued to stand up for himself. He stood up in the penalty box and beaked off Letang and everyone’s hearts sang.
And the Penguins eased up. They looked totally confident the Oilers wouldn’t do anything for the remaining 39 minutes. It made all the difference for the Oilers who were just getting revved up.
It started with Lander slamming one in. Then Eberle shoves one in. The second period ends 4 - 2 and there might be a hockey game after all.
The Oilers tied it up in the third with Pouliot and Roy making it a 4 - 4 hockey game. There was much back patting and celebration all around. If only the hockey game ended there. Alas, it did not.
The Penguins shook their heads and realized they had blown a four goal lead to the Great Oil Tanker. With five minutes left in the third the Penguins woke up and bashed in a couple goals and the Oilers just couldn’t keep up.
I imagine this would be a hard loss for an Oilers team pretty used to losing. It was another example of battling hard, and everyone pulling together to save a sinking ship. They kept up with a superior team for a little while, won a series of small victories, and then just ended up losing again.
They probably don’t feel any particular pride for what they got right. They probably just feel like Matt Hendricks’ face right about now and, once again, have nothing to show for it.
16:39 PENGUINS PENALTY Nick Spaling Interference drawn by Derek Roy
15:44 PENGUINS SHORTHANDED GOAL Brandon Sutter assisted by Daniel Winnik, Ben Lovejoy. Penguins poke checking the puck from Oilers up the boards until Brandon Sutter robs Justin Schultz at the blueline creating a breakaway for himself. Scores on Scrivens on the backhand. 1 - 0 Penguins
13:47 OILERS PENALTY Rob Klinkhammer cross-checking drawn by Ian Cole
10:23 PENGUINS GOAL Brandon Sutter assisted by Steve Downie, Daniel Winnik. Oilers look completely bewildered trying to exit their own end. It is eventually lobbed out but Winnik stakets right back, passes to Steve Downie. Downie shoots and Sutter picks up the rebound. 2 - 0 Penguins.
7:53 Nail Yakupov with a great pass to Teddy Purcell; shot goes wide. Then soon after a quick backhand that flies through the crease.
6:24 PENGUINS GOAL David Perron assisted by Sidney Crosby. 3 - 0 Penguins
5:39 PENGUINS PENALTY Chris Kunitz slashing drawn by Martin Marincin
1:04 FIGHT Matt Hendricks and Ian Cole.
Shots Oilers 5 - Penguins 12
19:31 OILERS PENALTY Derek Roy tripping drawn by Chris Kunitz
18:59 PENGUINS POWERPLAY GOAL Sidney Crosby one-timer assisted by Kris Letang, Evengi Malkin. Oilers switch goalies; Richard Bachman in net. 4 - 0 Penguins.
9:42 PENGUINS PENALTY Ben Lovejoy highsticking drawn by Matt Fraser
7:53 OILERS POWERPLAY GOAL Anton Lander. Oilers get to work. Chuck the puck on net and Lander whacks at it until it goes in. 4 - 1 Penguins
4:49 OILERS GOAL Jordan Eberle assisted by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Fayne. Fayne shoots on net from the blueline as the enter the zone, Nuge knocks the rebound out of the air and Eberle jams it in. 4 - 2 Penguins
1:22 PENALTY Kris Letang high-sticking and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins crosschecking. Letang whacks Nuge and Nuge shoves him back. They’re getting testy with each other and the ref throughs them both in the box. They continue yelling at each other in the box. 4 on 4.
Shots Oilers 16 - Penguins 11
16:20 PENGUINS PENALTY Steve Downie highsticking drawn by Keith Aulie. After a hit, Downie chops at Aulie’s face.
15:08 OILERS POWERPLAY GOAL Beniot Pouliot assisted by Derek Roy. 4 - 3 Penguins.
9:56 OILERS GOAL Derek Roy assisted by Ben Pouliot. Pouliot shoots and the rebound bounces off Roy who is crashing the net. Tied 4 - 4.
5:22 PENGUINS GOAL Steve Downie assisted by Maxim Lapierre. Lapierre shot, Downie knocks the rebound in the short side. 5 - 4 Penguins.
4:16 PENGUINS GOAL Patrick Hornqvist assisted by Sideny Crosby. Crosby skates circles around Klefbom and other Oilers chasing him around. 6 - 4 Penguins.
2:24 OILERS PENALTY Anton Lander tripping drawn by Evengi Malkin. Goalie was pulled, Malkin was breaking out of the Pens’ end and Lander tripped him to prevent a sure goal.
Shots Oilers 8 - Penguins 11
Total shots Oilers 29 - Penguins 34
Coming up next…
The Oilers complete their five game depression journey without a break, playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow at 5 pm GMT.