The Oilers wrap up their four-game road trip on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. The game is at 8:00 p.m. MST and it will be on CBC. It can also be heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
GLENDALE, AZ – The Edmonton Oilers had a fast start, scoring the game's opening goal, but four unanswered tallies by the Arizona Coyotes -- including two in the second period -- were enough to hand the visitors a 4-1 loss.
“I didn’t think we were sharp. I didn’t think we had the polish in our game that we’ve seen, even when we didn’t have success,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan after the game. “The passing, the execution. It showed up a lot on the power play. I thought we were rusty. For whatever reason, I know it’s back-to-back but we can’t have that as an excuse.”
Oilers got on the board first only 3:03 into the game after Taylor Hall sprinted towards the Coyotes net, receiving a nice feed from Leon Draisaitl. Hall quickly backhanded the puck shortside past Arizona starting goaltender Mike Smith to make it a 1-0 game.
“He just dropped the puck to me and then he beat his guy to the net,” said Draisaitl. “I saw him open so I gave him the puck and then he had a nice shot there.”
Just over a minute later, Nail Yakupov received two minutes for tripping, sending Arizona on the power play. It was the first man advantage for either team. Oilers killed off that penalty.
The teams then spent the middle portion of the period trading off power plays. Arizona’s Jordan Martinook received two minutes for tripping, followed by Andrej Sekera of Edmonton.
The best chance of any man advantage went to Arizona while shorthanded as Tobias Rieder snuck in behind the Oilers defence and skated in alone on Edmonton starting goaltender Anders Nilsson. Rieder's shot was stopped by Nilsson prior to the period’s midway point.
It was a common theme on the night for the Oilers, unable to convert with the man advantage.
“We’re not deep enough right now to play with that lack of polish and as a result, we didn’t win. One of our better games this year as far as keeping shot attempts and totals down but in the end we came out on the short end,” McLellan continued, adding that fatigue may have played a role.
“We’ve ridden a few players hard lately, with a lot of minutes and it showed up tonight. So we have to get some rest and play against a big, strong team on Saturday.”
With 3:11 to go in the first, Oliver Ekman-Larsson drew the Coyotes into a 1-1 tie when his shot from the side boards beat a screened Nilsson.
“They got a good screen in front of the net,” Nilsson remarked. “I dropped down a little bit early to try and cover the short side but because I went down early he beat me far side.”
Shots on goal after one were 8-7 for Arizona.
The two teams remained deadlocked in a 1-1 tie until 6:13 remained in the second period. With Draisaitl in the penalty box and Arizona on the power play, Shane Doan converted a pass from Max Domi, quickly firing a one-timer from the top of the crease behind Nilsson.
Less than four minutes later, Arizona extended its lead to 3-1 when Stefan Elliott pinched in and stationed himself in front of the Oilers net. He backhanded a rebound past Nilsson to make it 3-1 for the home side.
“That was a hard game to play last night but this one was hard as well. They check well, they’re in your face. They don’t give you a lot of time and space,” McLellan said. “They may not be as big and heavy as Anaheim but they check as well as they do. Their goaltender made some very big saves."
Oilers were outscored 2-0 in the second despite outshooting Arizona 14-10.
In the third period, Max Domi scored to give Arizona a 4-1 advantage and that was all she wrote.
In assessing the loss, the Edmonton head coach added that he would like to see more from his entire forward group.
“The combination of the six periods didn’t do us any favours but that’s part of learning how to win and play in this league. It’s hard to do night after night after night. And sometimes some of the unusual suspects have to find a way to chip one in and alleviate the pressure off the upper group. We haven’t had that in the last little bit. We’re looking for it and I’m sure it’ll show up at some point.”