Kevin Labanc notches a hat-trick as the Oilers were outdone 5-2 by the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Place on Saturday
EDMONTON, AB - Kevin Labanc recorded his first-career hat-trick and Joe Thornton had two helpers, tying Gordie Howe for ninth-most assists in NHL history and helping hand the Oilers a 5-2 defeat at Rogers Place on Saturday.
The Oilers begin a three-game, east-coast road trip on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 6:08 p.m. MST.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a power-play goal in the second period on the Oilers lone opportunity with the man advantage, and Zack Kassian added his eighth goal of the season and ninth point in his last 11 games as late consolation.
"This isn't the team you want to turn pucks over to, because they've got good players who can make some plays," defenceman Oscar Klefbom said. "They really showed that early and it cost us the game."
The Sharks win their fifth-straight game and fourth in succession on the road while the Oilers fall to 2-11-0 in their last 13 games on home ice after three solid road games following the All-Star break yielded four points out of a possible six (1-0-2).
"We can't play this way and expect to win hockey games. Not at this time of the year, quite frankly not ever," Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "For the players, this has to be really unacceptable. To play that way with so much at stake, to be able to move between two or three points away from seventh and eighth, it just can't be acceptable."
Cam Talbot stood up Marcus Sorensen for the game's first big save two minutes in after the Sharks forward was given two good opportunities just outside the crease.
The Sharks got on the board first to improve their league-best goal differential in the first period this season with 9:21 left in the opening frame after Kevin Labanc's net-bound shot took an unlucky deflection off Kevin Gravel and past Talbot for the 1-0 advantage.
They were two-up 1:39 later when Evander Kane was left open at the back post to accept Joonas Donskoi's cross-ice pass and score his 13th goal in 15 games.
Physicality was then injected into the contest when Adam Larsson flattened Radim Simek cutting through the Oilers defensive zone with the puck one-on-three.
Concern fell to Ty Rattie late in the frame after blocking Tim Heed's point shot with less than 10 seconds on the clock. The winger wouldn't return to the game following an opening 20 minutes where the shots leaned 12-5 in favour of the visitors.
Pressing early in the second, Adam Larsson would strike iron on a clean opportunity from the slot with Sharks netminder Aaron Dell dropping into the butterfly early.
The Oilers hit penalty troubles with Zack Kassian in the box for hooking and Larsson sending a wayward clearance over the glass for delay of game. Labanc had his second of the game after the 5-on-3 expired, ripping home his wrist shot from between the hash marks to increase the Oilers deficit to 3-0.
Nugent-Hopkins had the Oilers on the board with eight minutes on the clock in the second on their first opportunity with the man advantage. Darnell Nurse's point shot caused confusion in front of goal before Alex Chiasson's second effort popped out to Nugent-Hopkins, who fired his 17th goal of the campaign over a sprawled out Dell.
The Oilers peppered the Sharks for 13 shots in the second to nearly level out the shot total 19-18 after the middle frame.
San Jose started the third on the front foot, and Labanc had his hat-trick on the odd-man rush 1:36 into the period to restore the three-goal advantage. Joe Thornton added his second assist of the night to tie Gordie Howe for ninth all-time in assists in the NHL.
Tomas Hertl notched his 25th goal just over two minutes later to make their lead more than comfortable with 15:36 remaining.
With plenty of work to do, Larsson's point shot was deflected by Kassian and batted in beautifully to chip away at San Jose's lead late with six minutes left.
"No matter what, you've got to get yourself up for the next game," centre Kyle Brodziak said. "After a win we were looking to build off that today, but unfortunately we didn't get it done. We've got to look ahead. We've got a tough opponent on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and we have to make sure we're ready for that."