The Oilers homestand continues Sunday against the Florida Panthers. The 7:30 p.m. MT game can be seen on Sportsnet One or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – “We were doing the things we were supposed to be doing, they were just really bad bounces.”
All three Lightning goals deflected in off Oilers players, erasing a 2-0 lead for the home team, as Tampa Bay rallied to win 3-2.
“Aside from those bounces, we held a very good team, very offensive team in check most of the night,” said Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. “They didn’t get too many scoring chances. It took three really bad bounces for them to beat us tonight. I thought that was one of our better games defensively. We didn’t give up much. We did a good job of keeping it to the outside and that’s not an easy team to contain with their speed. I thought we did a good job there until those bounces.”
After the Oilers opened scoring with two straight, Nikita Kucherov potted the first Lightning goal of the game at 3:01 of the third to draw them within one. His long-range rifle skipped through bodies and deflected off the traffic in front and past Talbot to make it 2-1. That was the first goal allowed by Talbot in 119:57.
A Lightning centring pass hit off a Hall’s stick and went in, tying the game at 14:50 of the final regulation period. Hedman was credited with the goal. Then, Steven Stamkos banked a feed off the back of Darnell Nurse’s skate and it redirected in past Talbot at 15:51 of the third.
“I’ve never seen anything like that where the only goals they score go off of our guys,” said Talbot. “Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do in games like that. I thought we played well enough that we should have won that game. They just got the bounces and we didn’t.”
While it finished in disappointment, the game started with some promise. A slow start was quickly forgotten when Justin Schultz put the Oilers on top at 15:20 of the opening frame.
Schultz backhanded a shot on net, then poked the rebound past Ben Bishop to make it 1-0. Jordan Eberle recorded the assist. Eberle extended his point streak to three games, and now has seven in his last six.
The Rexall Place crowd was stunned that the Oil weren’t up 2-0 at the end of the first. With just seconds left on the clock, Leon Draisaitl was robbed of a glorious opportunity by Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. The blueliner was deep in the net behind Bishop and stuck his arm out to get in front of the puck, which was a surefire goal had Hedman not been there to save his team a two-goal deficit.
The Oilers would get that goal back rather quickly next period.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ shot was tipped in by Benoit Pouliot on the power play at 3:38 of the second to give Edmonton that 2-0 lead. Nugent-Hopkins and Andrej Sekera recorded the assists. Coming into the game, the Lightning had not allowed a goal on the power play in seven straight.
Eight minutes into the second, Draisaitl had a shot at redemption, but again was denied what would have been his first goal in 13 games. Bishop flashed the glove, taking away Draisaitl’s wind-up shot alone on the netminder. With three minutes and some change left in the second, Draisaitl was stopped by Bishop’s glove again. Taylor Hall’s drop-pass set up the trailing Draisaitl for a chance but his shot went straight to the goaltender’s outstretched glove hand.
The Oilers had a handful of prime scoring chances, but couldn’t bury.
“We didn’t score enough to outplay our blunders around the net and as a result we end up losing,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan.
Trailing 3-2, the Oilers pulled Talbot with about a minute to go in the game but couldn’t net the equalizer. Edmonton hosts the Florida Panthers on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. MT.
“I think anytime you lead it 2-0, you expect to come out with the win. But it’s one of those things you can’t have back now,” said Oilers defenceman Brad Hunt. “You have to look forward to Florida and fix those mistakes.”