Too little, too late.
The Edmonton Oilers dropped a 4-3 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. The Oil actually trailed 4-1 entering the third period before goals from Josh Archibald and Kailer Yamamoto sparked a late game push. It wasn't meant to be as Corey Crawford was excellent in the Chicago net.
The first 40 minutes were infuriating if you were an Oilers fan...the last 20 were just plain stressful. I got the details for your reading pleasure.
This was a very wide open period that favoured the Blackhawks. The Oilers came into this one playing their fourth game in six nights so it was understandable that they didn’t wanna fall into a run and gun style of play.
The first good chance of the period came off the stick of Brandon Saad, who let a one-timer from the slot rip, but he couldn’t beat the left pad of Mike Smith. The Oilers responded with a few chances of their own, with Yamamoto getting an in close chance on Crawford that wasn’t able to find twine.
The back and forth play would continue, as Jonathan Toews would get stopped on a breakaway shortly after. Edmonton would get a chance on the PP and, while they would put on plenty of pressure, would not be able to solve Corey Crawford.
This would cost the Oilers as a defensive breakdown led to Patrick Kane netting his 30th of the season to give Chicago the 1-0 lead. Kane would nearly add to this lead a few shifts later but an uncalled hook by Tyler Ennis was able to disrupt him enough to miss the net.
The Oilers would fight off one penalty before the period ended and things would remain 1-0 at the end of 20. Edmonton needed to tighten things up in the defensive zone if they wanted to win this one.
If the first period was disappointing for the Edmonton Oilers, the second period was a complete disaster. An early breakdown in the defensive zone lead to Jonathan Toews wrapping the puck around into an empty net to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. This was then followed by Alex DeBrincat letting a point shot go that eluded everyone, including Smith, en route to the back of the net. All of a sudden it was 3-0 Chicago and it looked like the Oilers were cooked.
It wasn’t quite over for the Oilers yet, as Nugent-Hopkins continued extended his point streak to four games after putting away a give-and-go with Draisaitl to get Edmonton on the board. 3-1.
All the hope that was generated from that goal was swiftly taken away a few minutes later. DeBrincat would find some room in the slot and fire another long-distance missile past Smith to restore Chicago’s three goal lead. 4-1 and that was it for Mike Smith. Mikko Koskinen, who was the hero in Dallas, came on in relief.
Not nearly good enough for Edmonton. They head into the final frame down 4-1.
Thing started to slowly come back together for the Oilers in the this one. A few seconds after the opening draw Athanasiou rang a shot off past Crawford and off the post. This was followed by a few plays that showed that this Edmonton team had a little bit of gas left in the tank.
This play paid off in a big way as Zack Kassian would find Josh Archibald on a 2-on-1 who would finesse the puck into an open net. Chicago’s lead was cut to 4-2 with plenty of time left on the board.
A mere 40 seconds later Kailer Yamamoto was able to get a feed in front of the net and sniped his 11th of the season! It wasn’t initially called a goal but the buzzer would ring and it would eventually be deemed a good goal. All of a sudden we were at 4-3 game with lots of time to tie things up.
Caleb Jones would have a fantastic chance all alone in the slot but would be denied by Crawford. Then it was Draisaitl who was stonewalled after Nugent-Hopkins found him in the wheelhouse. This was as close as the Oilers would get.
Chicago fends off the third period comeback and take this one by a score of 4-3.
- Mike Smith....not a great night. All four goals against were rather weak. Can’t rely on your goalie every night.
- Edmonton needs to tighten up their play in the defensive zone. This was the third straight game that I thought they played a bit too loose. Each goal by the Chicago Blackhawks was preceded by a defensive zone meltdown. It could be a product of fatigue setting into their game but, whatever it is, it needs to be fixed soon.
- Andreas Athanasiou played his best game as an Edmonton Oiler tonight. His feet were moving all night long and he was inches away from getting his 2nd in an Oilers uniform. He should get another shot on McDavid’s wing this Saturday.
- Yamamoto and Nugent-Hopkins stay hot tonight with each of them recording a goal. I was impressed especially with Yamamoto’s ability to hold onto the puck in the last few minutes of pressure.
- This might anger a few, but I was very underwhelmed by Darnell Nurse once again. He failed to move the puck up the ice, pinched at weird times, and just didn’t play all that well. I know he is getting more minutes than usual because of Klefbom’s injury but I say it as I see it. Bear also struggled at times tonight, which is rare this season.
- Reffing was brutal tonight. I am not gonna blame officiating on the loss, there were many other factors we can pin that on, but one power play for the Oilers? I don’t buy it...I counted at least 4 obvious infractions that went uncalled.
- Khaira out, Haas in. It’s common sense at this point, isn’t it?
- The lose puts a dent in Edmonton’s pursuit of the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas remains in 1st place with 82 points while the Oilers are hot on their heels with 80. The Oil come home this Saturday with a chance to close that gap as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.