Ryan Nugent-Hopkins equalized with 11 seconds remaining, but the Oilers would fall 3-2 in the shootout on Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes.
EDMONTON, AB - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored with 11 seconds remaining in the third period to force overtime, but Vinnie Hinostroza provided the final act in the shootout to sink the Oilers in a 3-2 defeat on Tuesday night at Rogers Place.
Adam Larsson notched his third of the campaign after the Oilers trailed 1-0 heading into the final frame, then Hinostroza restored the advantage for the Coyotes. Equalizing at the death with the goalie pulled, the Oilers then pummelled the visitors for eight shots in sudden death before Hinostroza went backhand over Mikko Koskinen to win it in the fourth round of the shootout.
The Oilers had recorded 116 shots in their previous three outings and peppered 37 shots tonight the way of Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who improves to 5-0-1 in his career against Edmonton.
"We're getting closer and closer to the results," Leon Draisaitl, who recorded two assists, said post-game. "I think we've played four really good games in a row and probably could've won all four games. We just didn't score enough. But this is another step in the right direction. We're going to have to keep building here game-by-game and see how it goes.
Koskinen made 27 saves, and Andrej Sekera played 17:33 on the Oilers blueline in his return to the lineup after spending 323 days and the entirety of the 2018-19 NHL campaign on the sidelines with an Achilles injury.
The Oilers drop their sixth game in a row and sixth-straight on home ice, falling to 24-29-6 on the season.
"This is six of the last seven games we've played well, but we had a little bit of a soft second period, lost a lot of faceoffs, and ended up defending a lot," Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Some days you can control your lineup and it's loaded, and some days it's not. Today it wasn't, but we still battled hard."
With Connor McDavid a late scratch before tonight's game due to illness, Leon Draisaitl took on the role of first-line centre alongside Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic. The German was fed by Leon Draisaitl just inside the Coyotes' zone in the opening minute before Draisaitl backhanded it back to Lucic, who was kept out early thanks to a sharp save by Kuemper.
Alex Chiasson looked to be gifted an open net five minutes into the contest after Colby Cave sent a mishandled Coyotes puck across goal to a wide open Chiasson, but Kuemper sprawled out to get a piece on the shot that looked to be going wide.
Koskinen then matched his counterpart in the opposite crease, stoning Vinnie Hinostroza with the right pad in close after first turning away Lawson Crouse's initial effort.
The netminders shined in a scoreless first period that ended 9-8 in favour of the visitors for shots.
A relentless start by the Coyotes to the second frame was quelled by Koskinen with the Oilers hemmed in their own zone, making two saves point blank on Mario Kempe in succession.
The Coyotes would finally break the deadlock 7:12 into the second and solve Koskinen when Josh Archibald notched his eighth of the campaign off a rebound to the left of the Finn.
The Oilers would be outshot 16-5 in the middle frame.
The home side drew even to the start of the final period when Larsson let fly a pinpoint slap shot from the point that avoided traffic in front and snuck under the crossbar past Kuemper to make it 1-1 with 16:27 to go in the final period. Kassian and Draisaitl would add the helpers.
But Arizona answered back, with Hinostroza tapping home the rebound to restore the lead at 2-1 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
The Oilers would pull the goalie as a last-ditch effort, and the rolling of the dice proved worthwhile. Nugent-Hopkins was right at the doorstep to bang in his 19th of the campaign and tie things up with 11 seconds left on the clock, forcing overtime for the 14th time this season for Edmonton.
"He's just one of those guys that never complains," Sam Gagner said of Nugent-Hopkins. "He comes to the rink and does his job to work and get better. He's very under-appreciated, but that was a huge goal for us tonight."
No McDavid meant a shaking of the template for the Oilers to start sudden death as Draisaitl took his regular rep at three-on-three alongside Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom. Darnell Nurse had two cracks at ending the game, having his wrist shot denied by Kuemper and then bowling the netminder over after cutting in from the left after finding open ice before the game would need to be decided by the shootout.
Sam Gagner was stopped first in his return to Edmonton as an Oiler, and Draisaitl fired five-hole before Galchenyuk scored at the other end. Chiasson's wrist shot was stamped out, and Hinostroza provided the final act to secure the extra point for the Coyotes in a 3-2 shootout victory.
The Oilers are back at Rogers Place Thursday against the New York Islanders. Game time is at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, 630 CHED.