The defending Stanley Cup champs triumph to sink the Oilers in a 5-2 loss at Rogers Place on Wednesday
EDMONTON, AB - In a measuring-stick matchup against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the margins were minimal until the final moments.
It was a close affair in the final minute after captain Connor McDavid notched a goal and an assist and Leon Draisaitl factored in by extending his point streak to seven games (7G, 6A) with two helpers, but two empty-net goals in 27 seconds put a stamp on a 5-2 defeat for the Oilers to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
The Oilers wrap up a three-game home stand on Friday against the New Jersey Devils. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.
Three-straight goals for the Blues in the opening two periods were sandwiched between tallies from McDavid and Zack Kassian as the visitors skated away with their sixth-straight victory to remain atop the Western Conference.
Kassian's wrist shot with under 10 minutes to go that cut the Oilers deficit to one brought on a cascade of pressure from the hosts in the dying minutes, culminating in a 6-on-4 opportunity with the net pulled that couldn't be converted before the Blues added the two empty-netters.
"I think this was a lesson for us," defenceman Oscar Klefbom said. "This was a playoff game, and obviously we have some work to do. We're going to play a lot of good teams that play this way, and we have to be ready."
The message at this morning's skate was to take it to them hard and take it to them early with the Blues playing the second half of back-to-back games.
"They played last night, but they played a solid game," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "They made the plays that counted."
Just as McDavid and Draisaitl did on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes, the duo combined in the early moments to lift the Oilers to an early lead when goaltender Mike Smith used his puck-playing prowess to record his first assist of the season and start the play that led to McDavid firing five-hole beyond Jake Allen 2:37 into the contest.
Smith backstopped the Oilers with 20 saves on 23 shots, but Allen was equal to the good all night in the opposing crease with 32 stops.
St. Louis was 5-1-2 in games where they score a power-play goal coming into tonight, boasting the league's seventh-best efficiency with the man advantage, and the champs capitalized on their first two opportunities from Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo before Robert Thomas put them up by a pair before the second-period break.
The Blues went 2-for-3 on the power play and received a goal and two assists from Pietrangelo.
"They're a big d-core that can skate well," forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said post-game. "Against a team like that, we have to find a way to get those second and third opportunities and get those loose pucks. That's where chaos is created and we'll have success out of that."
In the final game of the three-game home stand on Friday against the New Jersey Devils, Tippett expects reinforcements to arrive in the form of speed, size, and veteran play from a number of injured bodies capable of returning.
"We're getting healthy," he said. "(Riley) Sheahan is going to be ready to play. (Josh) Archibald will be ready to play. (Joakim) Nygard is close. (Adam) Larsson a couple of weeks probably, so we'll inject some speed into our lineup."