RALEIGH, NC - Connor McDavid scored the lone goal for the Oilers as the Carolina Hurricanes managed to edge Edmonton 2-1. With the loss, the Oilers have now dropped three straight games to fall to 28-18-8 on the season.
"There's obviously a sense of urgency now," said McDavid. "We understand it's a playoff race. Stuff happens quick, stuff changes quick so we have to nip it right in the bud. Three tough (losses), but tonight I thought we did a lot of good things, a little bit unlucky with a few posts late in the game and even in the second period. I don't think anyone panicked or anything like that, we've just got to find ways to win games."
A tic-tac-toe passing play got the Hurricanes on the board first at 11:36 of the opening period. Jaccob Slavin passed the puck, from the wall, down low to Elias Lindholm, who centred it in front for Jordan Staal, resulting in Staal's 11th goal of the season.
With 5:24 to go in the first, Oilers defenceman Matt Benning was on the receiving end of a big collision behind the Edmonton net. The hit bloodied his nose and he was forced to retreat to the dressing room. He did not return, and there was no immediate update following the game.
McDavid nearly tied the game less than five minutes into the second. McDavid had a glorious wraparound chance but the puck flirted with the line before missing its mark. McDavid would get the equalizer a few minutes later.
The Oilers evened things up at 8:04 of the middle frame when McDavid notched his 18th marker of the season. Oscar Klefbom zipped a long pass through the neutral zone to a waiting McDavid at the Carolina blueline. The captain then turned on the jets and beat Cam Ward with a raised backhand shot. Defenceman Adam Larsson recorded the second assist on the goal.
Sebastian Aho rifled a power-play one-timer past Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot at 1:48 of the third to take back the lead for Carolina.
Late in the third the Oilers top line generated a couple of chances to tie with McDavid saucing centring passes for each of his linemates. Both Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon couldn't bury those feeds.
Outside of those few chances, the Hurricanes did their part to hem the Oil in their zone and weather any pushback. Edmonton pulled Talbot late for an opportunity to add an extra attacker, but the Hurricanes weathered the late rally attempt by the visitors.
"It's very easy to be frustrated out there," said Klefbom. "I think overall we played a pretty good game. It's tough. We've got to stick with our game plan here because we know we can play some really good hockey. We showed that before the (All-Star) Break. We've got to get back on the winning train here, quick."
Edmonton has a day to regroup before they take on the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.