The Oilers play their eighth and final game of the pre-season on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360. Game time is 8:00 p.m. MDT.
EDMONTON, AB – Bo Horvat scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom made 21 saves as the Vancouver Canucks handed the Oilers their first loss of the pre-season 5-2 at Rexall Place.
The Oilers had won all six of their previous exhibition games.
“What I can tell you is we didn’t get points in the standings for any of those wins,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Tonight, despite losing, I think it’s something our team needed. It resets things for us a little bit. I thought we were negligent in some of our responsibilities on the ice surface to begin with, positionally and responsibly. That’s a good teaching tool for us tomorrow.”
Oilers Cam Talbot was tested early between the pipes, making a save on Brandon Sutter’s partial break just 35 seconds into the game.
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead at 1:20 of the first period. Leon Draisaitl centred to Connor McDavid in the slot and he backhanded a shot on Markstrom. The Canucks goalie kicked the puck out in front and Taylor Hall buried the rebound. The goal was Hall’s first point of the pre-season.
The celebration was short-lived, with Vancouver answering just 23 seconds later. A pass from behind the goal line glanced off Talbot’s stick and out in front where Horvat was all alone. The 2013 ninth-overall pick finished the play, tying the game 1-1. Jake Virtanen and Sven Baertschi each logged an assist.
At 11:47, Vancouver took a 2-1 lead. Ben Hutton’s shot trickled through the pads of Talbot. Baertschi and Horvat recorded the assists.
Edmonton got the last laugh of the first period, courtesy of an impressive play by Nail Yakupov with 42 seconds left. The Russian winger came fast down the left wing and unleashed a beautiful shot past Markstrom. The snipe was Yakupov’s second goal of the pre-season.
24 seconds into the middle frame, Yannick Weber buried a power play goal to put Vancouver up 3-2.
Virtanen would put the Canucks up 4-2, but suffer an injury at the same time. A shot by Weber deflected in off of Virtanen’s face. He was able to head to the locker room under his own power, despite leaving a pool of blood at the top of the crease. Webere and Baertschi had the assists.
“I’ve got to play better,” said Talbot, who finished with 24 saves. “I’ve got to come in here and make the saves that need to be made. Obviously, some went off sticks and faces and stuff like that. There’s a few that I’d like back and the guys are counting on me to make those saves and I’ve got to make them.”
The Oilers had some offensive pressure in the final two minutes of the second period, but couldn’t capitalize. Draisaitl nearly tipped in a shot by Yakupov during a flurry of action in the Canucks end.
McDavid drove the net in the opening moments of the third period, but was stopped by Markstrom. The Canucks came right back.
Virtanen, who returned to the game, set up Horvat down the middle and he sniped a shot above the shoulder of Talbot 54 seconds into the third.
The Canucks coasted the rest of the way, dropping Edmonton to 6-1-0 this pre-season.
“Tonight was kind of the first night where things didn’t go to plan,” said Hall. “The battle level wasn’t there on some plays. That’s something we’re going to have to fix before the pre-season is done.”
The Oilers close out their exhibition schedule with a rematch with the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday.