EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers could not generate any momentum on their power play and played from behind the entire game as the Toronto Maple Leafs handed Edmonton a 4-2 loss.
Edmonton went 0-for-6 on the man advantage. Down 3-1 late in the second, the Oilers had a 5-on-3 crack at it but they couldn't find twine. The Leafs would get another goal before the end of the frame and that was that.
"We had our fair share of looks at it," said Oilers Captain Connor McDavid. "We had enough power plays to do some damage and we didn't capitalize. Then the 5-on-3 late in the second period of a two-goal game, we don't score and they come back and score. That's the changing point in the game."
"The power play had a huge part in it," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "We had nine minutes, a couple of minutes 5-on-3, we end up with six shots on goal and we won more faceoffs than we lost so we were in their end. Too fine, too cute, too slow to shoot, not working real hard to get secondary chances once the shot was blocked, it just wasn't very good."
The Oilers power play is 0-for-12 in their last three games. In their last eight losses, it is 0-for-24.
As is always the case with Canadian or Original Six teams paying a visit to Edmonton, the atmosphere kicked up a notch in the arena. Chants in support of both the Oil and the visiting Leafs filled the arena at puck drop.
Those cheers and chants continued sporadically throughout the game.
The first real action on the ice came when the Oilers got the first power play of the game. Auston Matthews got called for hooking Connor McDavid at 3:16 of the first, and then Oilers winger Milan Lucic got sent to the box for interference just 29 seconds later to bring on the 4-on-4 hockey.
Edmonton had a glorious chance off a rush a few seconds later when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hammered a shot off the post, beating Frederik Andersen clean but not lighting the lamp.
The Leafs were the first to find twine at 5:45 when Matthews crashed the net and redirected a centring feed from William Nylander past Cam Talbot. The goal was the 2016 first-overall pick's 10th of the season.
Matthews nearly had his second goal of the game midway through the first when he tried to redirect a Zach Hyman feed out in front, but the puck slid wide of the net and out of danger.
Late in the opening frame, Oilers winger Zack Kassian nearly stuffed a wraparound goal behind Andersen. Moments later, things started to heat up.
At the end of that shift, with 2:28 remaining in the first, there was a pile up of bodies between the benches. Oilers forward Matt Hendricks and Toronto's James van Riemsdyk each got two minutes for roughing.
In the ensuing 4-on-4 hockey, Andersen made a beautiful glove save on Leon Draisaitl to keep the Oilers off the board. The home team began to pull away in shots with 12 to Toronto's six, following that chance.
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead at 2:49 of the second when van Riemsdyk stole the puck from Talbot and potted his 10th of the season.
"It just comes down to being ready to play and bringing the intensity here in the locker room before the drop of the puck, and that's a huge part of being a professional and a huge part of getting yourself ready to play," said Oilers winger Milan Lucic. "I think that's something that maybe we need to talk a little bit about as a group before next game. We need to bring a little more emotion as far as that goes."
Despite the slow start, Edmonton did respond at 4:50 of the middle frame. Andrej Sekera knifed a shot from the point through traffic and it found its way past Andersen. The Oilers defenceman's goal was his third of the season. Kris Russell and McDavid recorded assists on the goal. With his, McDavid stretched his point streak to six games.
A turnover in the defensive zone led to Nazem Kadri beating the outstretched pad of Talbot at 6:00 of the second, giving Toronto a 3-1 lead.
Toronto made it 4-1 with 2:02 left in the second, and with Edmonton outshooting them 21-14. Hyman buried a loose puck in front, digging the Oilers a deeper hole they wouldn't get out of.
Jonas Gustavsson replaced Talbot in net for the start of the third.
McDavid wrapped up the scoring at 3:58 of the third with a great individual effort. The Oilers captain came in alone across the blueline and drove to the net with pressure behind him. McDavid buried the puck past Andersen for his team-high 11th goal of the season.
The Oilers lost their third game in a row and dropped to 12-10-2. They will now hit the road to play in Winnipeg on Thursday. Edmonton beat Winnipeg 3-0 on October 23, in their first meeting of the season.