The Oilers were handcuffed by New York netminder Thomas Greiss on Tuesday, falling 4-1 to the Islanders
EDMONTON, AB - Zack Kassian scored his sixth of the season off a deflection, the Oilers took 28 shots, won 56 percent of the faceoffs but skated away to a 4-1 loss against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
"As a team, I don't think it was our best effort," said Oilers goal scorer Kassian. "We were getting our chances but I think we were giving up too much."
Holding a 22-0-5 record this season going into the third period with a lead, the Islanders sought to close out the game in the final frame.
"It makes it harder on us but it's not the first time we played against it and won't be our last," said Kassian.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan thought the differences between the two teams was noticeable.
"They chose to block a lot of shots in power play situations, we didn't," he said. "They scored a blue paint or playoff-type goal, we didn't. It wasn't for a lack of opportunities in or around that area, they beared down and we had numerous opportunities at open nets and didn't bear down.
"They did a lot of the things they needed to do to get a 3- or 4-1 win, we didn't."
Cam Talbot kept the game scoreless early in the first period, making big saves on two lethal Islanders. Josh Bailey barreled in on Talbot and was able to get a backhand shot off, to which Talbot flashed his glove. The next was on Islanders Captain John Tavares, who tried to spread the Oilers netminder but he nixed the chance with a sprawling save.
Through 14 minutes in the first, Edmonton outshot New York 9-5.
The Islanders opened up the scoring at 17:23 of the first on the power play. With Drake Caggiula in the box for high-sticking, Joshua Ho-Sang blasted a one-timer that got past Talbot. It was Ho-Sang's first career NHL goal and point. The assists went to Thomas Hickey and Shane Prince.
Patrick Maroon nearly tied the game up after Leon Draisaitl sprung him on a short breakaway shortly after but Greiss would make the save.
The Oilers tied it up just under three minutes into the second period. Kassian deflected a Matt Benning point shot to score his sixth of the season. Benning and Caggiula recorded the assists, giving them 13 and 11 points on the season, respectively.
Draisaitl nearly got the Oilers the lead after some nifty passing by Connor McDavid and Maroon. Maroon transported the puck to McDavid in the slot, who transferred it to over to Draisaitl who was on Greiss' glove side. The Islanders netminder spread his body to make the save.
"It's about bearing down on opportunities," said Oilers forward Milan Lucic. "We weren't able to get that second goal to get us going."
It was Anders Lee of the Islanders who would score the game's next goal. At 9:45 in the second period, Bailey fired a shot on Talbot and Lee corralled a loose puck to deposit his 24th goal of the season into the back of Edmonton's net.
The Oilers trailed 2-1 heading into the third period.
Andrew Ladd made it 3-1 at 7:04 of the third, putting the Oilers back by two. It was Ladd's 18th goal of the season and the assists went to Brock Nelson and Hickey.
Edmonton played desperate hockey late but couldn't beat Greiss.
"I don't think we played a poor game or a bad game, it was just the mental sharpness that needs to come this time of year (wasn't there)," said Lucic.
Lee scored his second of the game with an empty-net goal.
With the loss, the Oilers record changed to 35-23-8. The team hosts Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
"We're going to get a good taste of what it's going to be like down the stretch here," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins about the upcoming match against the Penguins.