The Minnesota Wild erased three deficits to sweep the season series over the Oilers with help from a Jared Spurgeon hat trick
EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers held the lead three times on Friday night at Rogers Place against the Minnesota Wild but ultimately couldn't hold on as the Wild claimed the sweep of the season series with a 5-3 victory.
The Oilers begin a three-game California road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 8:08 p.m. MT.
A natural hat-trick for defenceman Jared Spurgeon accounted for three of the four goals received from Wild blueliners on the night, overshadowing a three-point performance from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
"They played a solid game, but we just shot ourselves in the foot by giving up preventable goals," Leon Draisaitl said. "That's pretty much the story of the game."
Both teams competed with high levels of desperation, with the Oilers keen to return to the pinnacle of the Pacific Division and the Wild fighting to stay in the playoff race.
"We're a desperate team too, but overall I think we maybe we could've pushed a little bit harder," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I think we know we have better than that."
The Wild blocked 26 shots, the same amount the Oilers were able to register on target over 60 minutes, with Mikko Koskinen stopping 34 of the 38 shots sent his way.
"That's probably a sign of their desperation and us not getting the job done getting pucks through," Oilers bench boss Dave Tippett said.
Nugent-Hopkins deployed his patented wrister twice in the opening 20 minutes - once just 50 seconds in with the first shot of the contest and again midway through the period off assists from his linemates.
The NHL's leading scorer in Draisaitl had a backhand pass hit the skate of a Wild defenceman and catch netminder Alex Stalock off guard just over eight minutes into the middle frame to restore the Oilers advantage.
The German's 35th goal of the season marked point 97 for #29 in 61 games.
The line of Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto kept clicking as the trio combined for seven points in the losing effort.
"Draisaitl's line was just eating us up," Wild Head Coach Dean Evason said.
The decisive redirection, however, came off the stick of Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson when Spurgeon's soft backhand deflected off the Swede's stick and past Koskinen for the game-winning goal.
"The margin for error in every game is slim," Tippett said. "If you give up four and you have to score five, that's too many against."
Yamamoto posted two assists to increase his total to 20 points (9G, 11A) since his call-up, but the forward and his linemates pointed to missed opportunities as a detail in defeat.
"We've got to bear down on our chances," Yamamoto said. "We did have a lot of chances and I definitely need to start bearing down on my chances."
More importantly, the mistakes committed on the night by the Oilers are being recognized and identified as correctible.
"It's a positive that it's something we can fix, and it's not like we went out there and they were just completely better than us," defenceman Caleb Jones said. "Those are things we can fix and we'll look to fix those and move on."
The Oilers begin a three-game road trip through California on Sunday when they visit the Staples Center for a date with the Los Angeles Kings.