The Edmonton Oilers were back in action on Rogers Place ice tonight looking for a little redemption against a visiting Toronto Maple Leafs side that showed them a thing or two about a thing or two last time out. Mikko Koskinen (7-8-0, 0.897 SV%) got the start for the Oilers with Michael Hutchinson (2-1-0, 0.943 SV%) between the pipes for Toronto.
The Oilers started this one well enough, generating the best of the chances through the first couple of minutes. Leon Draisaitl, Dominik Kahun and Kailer Yamamoto had a couple of looks before Connor McDavid flew through middle ice to force a save from Hutchinson. The early pace was pretty frenetic and the first whistle didn’t come until the 4:29 mark.
Edmonton was doing a fine job of keeping Toronto’s attack at bay, too, and didn’t surrender a shot on goal at all in the first 7 minutes. Unfortunately, that shot went in. A turnover just inside the Leafs blue line sent Toronto up ice before a nice passing play culminated with Zack Hyman finding a soft spot in coverage — Evan Bouchard had lost his stick on the play — and flicking a backhand over Koskinen’s right leg. 0-1.
Edmonton tried to respond with a couple of push back shifts immediately following the goal, but couldn’t break through and it cost them. William Nylander was first to act on a loose puck following a faceoff just outside the Toronto zone. He blew past Ethan Bear and rode a check from Evan Bouchard before flipping a pretty harmless backhand — Toronto’s second shot on goal — past Koskinen’s glove. Somehow. 0-2.
Perhaps predictably, the Oilers sagged a little after as Toronto grew into the game but still managed to draw its first penalty through Josh Archibald. Unfortunately, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was caught with his stick between Justin Holl’s legs off the draw and the PP was over 3 seconds after it began.
Nothing doing for either side during the 4v4 and shortly afterward, Adam Larsson took a hooking penalty of his own with less than 3 minutes remaining in the period. The Leafs PP made no mistake. Mitch Marner set one up for Morgan Reilly to step through just inside the Oilers blue line. It hit Darnell Nurse in front and deflected down and through Mikko Koskinen’s legs. 0-3.
No change through the last 2 minutes and the Oilers, once again put in a tough spot through some early goaltending struggles, had it all to do.
The Oilers — with Mike Smith in for Koskinen — came out to start the second period with the impetus of a team down 3-0 while the Leafs were content to absorb a bit of pressure and protect their lead. Edmonton put together a couple of nice shifts early and were eventually rewarded with another power play, this time courtesy Connor McDavid at the end of a pretty lengthy shift.
Dave Tippett chose not to leverage his one and only timeout and the first unit had to change earlier than usual after failing to get established right away. The second unit couldn’t do much either.
Shortly after the penalty expired, Edmonton drew another one through Jujhar Khaira. Again, however, the Oilers power play couldn’t really get established as Toronto’s penalty killers were doing an excellent job disrupting Edmonton’s entries.
Two chances to claw back into the game and nothing to show for it. It started to look like it was going to be another one of those games.
That theme continued, as with just over 7 minutes remaining, Nugent-Hopkins took another unnecessary penalty when the Oilers were breaking out. Luckily the Leafs couldn’t capitalize and truly put the game to bed. Edmonton threw out its biggest guns to capture some momentum from the successful PK but McDavid took a cross-checking penalty in front of Hutchinson while he was trying to create space. Edmonton had possession for this one, too.
Again, the Leafs couldn’t beat Smith — who was actually pretty good in relief when he had to be — so the Oilers had some hope. They couldn’t score a goal before the end of the period though, and remained down a field goal going into the third.
Edmonton again started on the front foot but, as has become a theme in the past few periods, couldn’t solve Toronto’s backup (‘s backup). A penalty to Alexander Barabanov offered a brief glimpse of hope but, once again, the Oilers PP couldn’t get themselves together. Jesse Puljujarvi had the best chance on maybe their only clean entry his shot trickled wide after squeezing through Hutchinson.
Credit to Edmonton, they kept trying and Connor McDavid even found himself with a bit of daylight coming in from the right side, but he couldn’t find the finish. It was one of those nights after all.
Near the end of the game, a handful of majors and misconducts were handed out as both sides engaged in a little bit of silliness. Nurse was cruisin’ for a bruisin’ when he chose to stop on Hutchinson’s lap and Zach Bogosian took great exception. Josh Archibald and Travis Dermott ended up fighting in the aftermath. Nurse and Bogosian both got misconducts while Dermott and Archibald earned fighting majors for their trouble. Alex Chiasson received a 10 minute misconduct at the end of regulation for cross checking Jimmy Vesey.
What can you say? The Oilers probably deserved a better result but the numbers will be kind to teams who chase the lead for 55 minutes. Mikko Koskinen was in tough to save the first shot but he should have the second at least 99 times out of 100. Unfortunately, tonight was the 1 and it changed the complexion of the game. The Leafs were able to sit back and absorb Edmonton’s and rode a nice performance from Hutchinson the rest of the way.
Right now these teams don’t look all that close to me — you’ll remember that Toronto was without their 1G and best player for these two games — and the Oilers haven’t scored a goal yet.
They need a result from the third game. They can’t get swept. Can they?
That’s how many periods the Oilers have gone without scoring a goal.