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Oilers Slump Continues in 3-1 Loss

The Oilers drop their fifth consecutive game to Ethan Bear’s Hurricanes

The Edmonton Oilers dropped their fifth straight game in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the lone Oilers goal while Sebastian Aho led to the Canes to the win.

The Oilers are entering dangerous territory as their record now reads 16-10-0 and could be out of a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

Let’s take a look at how we came to this conclusion...

First Period:

This might have been the most neutral start the Oilers have had to a game all season. Nothing of note was really going on during the first five minutes or so. The one thing I did notice was the overwhelming amount of love being sent towards Ethan Bear by the Oilers faithful. A loud cheer erupted throughout Rogers Place as Bear stepped out for his first shift against his former team. Man, do I ever miss that man.

Back to the game, Zack Kassian made the first noteworthy hockey play and it wasn’t a good one. He boarded Andrei Svechnikov and gave the Hurricanes the first PP of the game. Sebastian Aho would capitalize on a play in tight. 1-0 Hurricanes as Edmonton, yet again, gives up the first goal of the game.

Connor McDavid had a beautiful chance to tie things up after intercepting a pass and going in all alone against Frederik Andersen. Yet, he decided to force a pass that was blocked and the play ended without a shot on net.

Svechnikov was mere inches of extending that lead a few moments later. He beat Koskinen five-hole but caught iron.

Andersen was sharp in the Carolina net, as he denied Evan Bouchard on a point-blank shot with a calm pad save.

Edmonton would stage a last-minute flurry of chances but couldn’t beat Andersen. Carolina took the 1-0 lead into the second.

Second Period:

The action started to pick up at both ends of the ice as the second period got underway. Svechnikov beat out Niemalainen for a partial break that was stopped by Koskinen. Jesse Puljujarvi had a nice chance on the net at the other end but Carolina was able to redirect it wide of the net.

The Hurricanes would find the twine yet again after Nino Niederreiter beat Koskinen clean over the shoulder on a rush. Not the type of goal you want to give up while trying to bust a four-game skid. The Oilers now saw themselves down 2-0 nearly halfway through the game.

It wasn’t all bad as Puljujarvi sent Nugent-Hopkins on a breakaway where he let a wicked wrister go over the Andersen’s glove. Edmonton was right back in it as they cut Carolina’s lead to 2-1.

That would be all the scoring for the period. Edmonton would have to find one more goal to avoid a 5-game losing streak.

Third Period:

Carolina started to pull away on the shot clock with a few quick chances early on in the third. With 14 minutes remaining in regulation, the Hurricanes had hurled 29 shots toward Koskinen while the Oilers had only mustered 15.

With the team looking to knot things back up, Dave Tippett decided to load up McDavid and Draisaitl on the top-line. The dynamic duo went to work right away, testing Andersen with a few high-quality shots on net but the Danish goaltender was on his game.

Edmonton finally got their first shot with the man-advantage with 13 left on the board. A golden opportunity to tie things up. Hyman would get a couple of looks right on the doorstep but wasn’t able to capitalize.

Another PP chance a few minutes later gave the Oilers a chance for redemption. Hyman again had the best chance as he missed a wide-open net on a rebound. Another missed opportunity as the game entered its final stretch.

All hope of Edmonton making a comeback were squashed soon-after. A misplay by Koskinen behind the net popped out to Aho who slid it into an empty cage. 3-1 with a few minutes left in regulation.

Takeaways:

  • Once again Edmonton’s struggles came from a lack of support from the team’s bottom-six. The top guys seemed to be dictating the play when they were on the ice but any momentum that the team had gathered in that time was sucked away when they stepped off. Ken Holland was praising this team’s depth early in the year but it seems like those celebrations were a bit premature. We are back to the Oilers being a two-line team.
  • I am not one to criticize McDavid at all. He is the best player on the planet and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that. Yet, it seemed like he passed up more than a few quality shots on the net in favour of some low-percentage passes. When you are slumping as the Oilers have been, the focus should be putting pucks on net as much as possible.
  • Speaking of shots on net, Darnell Nurse should try doing it. The amount of times good cycles end with Nurse shot being blocked is way too high. He needs to work on finding lanes or start making other plays.
  • I thought RNH played his best game all year. He looked really good all game long. A positive amid yet another disappointing night.
  • Hyman is fighting the puck on the PP lately. He had a few chances, one of them on an open net, that he couldn’t pot. I like the player a lot and have faith he will get back to scoring those. Tough sledding for the player right now.
  • Mikko Koskinen had a game to forget tonight. While I thought he showed well for long stretches tonight the second and third goals were ones he needed to have. Holland not addressing the position during the offseason is starting to hurt this team.
  • Gotta wonder how much longer Dave Tippett has. The Oilers are on the verge of blowing their hot start to the season and could find themselves out of a playoff spot as early as next week. We’ve seen Stanley Cup winners go through a coaching chance mid-season before...
  • The Oilers drop their fifth consecutive game and drop 16-10-0 on the year. Things won’t get much easier as the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to visit town on Tuesday.