The Edmonton Oilers (21-20-3) played host to the Arizona Coyotes (19-21-3) for the Hockey Night in Canada late game Saturday night. The Oilers, unlikely winners last time out against Florida, would do horrible things to horrible people for some points right now. The Coyotes, missing an astonishing amount of regulars - including their starting goaltender Antti Rantta and leading scorer Brad Richardson - entered this one just a few points behind the Oilers, desperately hoping to stay relevant as the All-Star break looms.
The Oilers started well enough after the earliest work was done by their guests. Cam Talbot was forced into a big save early, but he started this one sharply.
Ty Rattie was given a push up the lineup back to his rightful place beside Connor McDavid tonight. This proved a wily decision early with McDavid springing Rattie for a partial break only for The Newest Answer to fire just over. He’d redeem himself a few moments later after a clever pass into the vicinity of Connor McDavid led to the Oilers’ first tally. McDavid gathered the puck from the feet of the two nearest Coyotes before burying a wrist shot through Darcy Kuemper’s legs.
But that was about as good as it would get in the first period for Edmonton. Arizona would push back for the rest of the period and asked a number of questions of the Oilers netminder. He was able to answer all of them, and the home side would get to the break ahead 1-0, despite trailing in most of the relevant rates and on the shot clock.
The Coyotes took no time in striking back. 1:16 in fact. A brutal play behind the Oilers net by Kris Russell led to a few chances for the visitors before former Oiler Jordan Oesterle beat Talbot to the right with a slap shot. 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, rookie Conor Garland was both fortunate - and very, very unfortunate - to score Arizona’s second. Oesterle found time and space just beyond the slot and his wrist shot found Garland’s temple before trickling over the line. He was also bleeding everywhere, and admitted later in an interview he didn’t even know he had scored until later. Toughness, right?!
The Oilers did manage to find some pushback after the Coyotes second goal and were probably the better side on balance throughout most of the middle frame. This would eventually tell as Russell managed to find a moment of redemption thanks to some nice work down low from Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins that led to him putting a loose puck into a mostly open net to tie the game at 2-2.
That’s how the period would end, and it would be all to play for in the third.
Unfortunately, both teams started the third in a similar way to how they began the second: with an early Coyotes goal. And, you’ll never guess who. That’s right. Young, upstart Conor Garland. After a forehead full of stitches and a heroes return, the Oilers newest nemesis barrelled to the front and brought a loose puck in there with him. It escaped Talbot and would prove to be the winner.
The Oilers offered basically nothing for the rest of the game. In fact, they were actually outchanced 5v5 (0-2 high danger) in the third period. This should be threat level: midnight territory for the Oilers and they couldn’t manage enough desperation / hockey to outplay the lowly Arizona Coyotes missing a handful of starters. This is Peter Chiarelli’s legacy.
The Oilers couldn’t muster much of anything and this game would eventually put us all out of our misery and end. 3-2 Arizona, moving them closer to both the Oilers and a wild card spot, while taking valuable points away from their not-good-enough division rivals.
How many different ways can you say that the Oilers need to clean house from (and honestly, including) Katz down and start fresh with a fresh with a whole new management team?
All numbers 5v5, all courtesy NaturalStatTrick:
Shots: 25-29 46.29%
CF: 48-43 52.75%
FF: 34-33 50.75%
SCF: 20-16 55.56%
HDCF: 12-4 75%
The Oilers get the Buffalo Sabres (23-16-6) on Monday night at 7:00pm local.