"It's just pre-season, but these are areas our organization has to get better in," Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said of the team's third-period letdown. "We're going to be in this situation a lot during the year where we maybe got a one-goal lead and we've got to learn to play in those situations. We had our way in the second and I think that affected us in the third. You've got to buckle them up and you've got to come out and get ready to play."
Benoit Pouliot put Edmonton up 1-0 at 12:46 of the first. The Oilers winger skated through the blueline with the puck, shielded it from a defender, then roofed a shot past Jacob Markstrom. Pouliot was assisted by Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
Vancouver got the equalizer at 13:08, when former Oilers defenceman Philip Larsen's shot was tipped in by Brandon Sutter.
With 1:56 left in the first, Jordan Eberle had a nice chance from close range, but Markstrom flashed the glove to keep things even at one.
At 4:57 of the second, McDavid scored his fourth goal of the pre-season to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead. The captain drove to the side of net and snuck a steep-angle, close-range shot behind Markstrom. Milan Lucic and Andrej Sekera recorded helpers on the goal.
McDavid had another impressive outing, from his passes to his defensive game and scoring chances.
"He had another tremendous game," said McLellan. "I thought he played well all around the rink. He's certainly making players around him better, and you like to see that from your captain and your leader."
Through 40 minutes the Oilers were up 28-8 in shots. There were stretches of the second in which Edmonton completely dominated possession and play. However, they took just a one-goal lead into the third, and that's when Vancouver came back.
"We've got to find a way to put teams away if we're going to make that next step to being a really good team in this league," said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "We've got to find a way to do that. I think if we could have got a couple in the second period, we had so many chances. It was one of the best periods I've been a part of on this team. We've just got to find a way to get a couple more and put teams away like that."
After a scramble in front of Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, Canucks Sven Baertschi scored a power-play goal off the crossbar at 4:17 of the third to even the game at 2-2.
Despite the dominance earlier in the game by the Oilers, Vancouver took the lead at 17:26 of the third. Markus Granlund redirected a shot past Talbot to make it 3-2.
Kris Russell, who was signed by Edmonton Friday night, played his first game with the orange and blue. The defenceman finished -1 with three hits and a blocked shot. He played 18:52, fourth among the Oilers defence.
"I felt alright," said Russell. "I felt the legs were pretty good. There are some things I've got to clean up. I've got to work hard to get that step quicker and just get into the habit of the systems so I'm not thinking too much out there. To get into a game this late I thought was beneficial for me for sure, but I've got to get better every day and get read for opening night."
That would be the final as the Canucks held on to drop Edmonton to 5-3-0 in the pre-season. The Oilers open up their regular season schedule on Wednesday at home against the Calgary Flames.