They’ve now lost a dozen consecutive games in Los Angeles, so pulling out of Staples Center after a loss isn’t exactly a new thing for Edmonton.
This one, however, was a break away. Not a breakaway, but a two-on-one where Drew Doughty dove to knock down Connor McDavid’s pass to a wide open Jesse Puljujarvi in the slot. If the pass gets through, the Oilers likely lead 3-2 late in the game.
Instead, seconds later, Puljujarvi takes an interference penalty. The Kings score on the power play, add two empty-netters, and a 5-2 final looks far more decisive than it truly was.
Paul LaDue’s power-play goal might have been called back for goaltender interference a couple of weeks ago, but Tanner Pearson’s brush-up against Cam Talbot’s blocker is OK now. Hockey Ops has ‘er figured out, folks. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.
In the end a sleepy start ended up costing the Oilers, which is a familiar tune, despite McDavid’s two-point night. Also a familiar tune.
Here are some takeaways from a comeback that fell short against the Kings, as the Oilers lost in regulation for only the second time in their past eight games.
McDavid red hot
The Oilers captain is absolutely on fire right now, with nine points in his last three games. He assisted on Leon Draisaitl’s power-play goal, scored the 2-2 goal on a nice solo rush, and was dangerous all night.
He moved into third in league scoring with 63 points, behind Phil Kessel (65) and Nikita Kucherov (66). There’s not much more to play for when you’re Edmonton, but watching McDavid make a final charge to defend his Art Ross Trophy should be fun.
Over the past three games, McDavid has been in on nine of the Oilers’ 11 goals. So, yes, they’ve been a one-man show, with some help from Draisaitl.
But here is a list of guys who could help a little more. In a game that’s 2-2 with five minutes to play, some secondary scoring is clearly the difference between winning and losing.
• Patrick Maroon: Pointless in five, goalless in six.
• Milan Lucic: Hasn’t scored a goal since before Christmas. That’s 16 games.
• Mike Cammalleri: Has gone 15 games without a goal.
• Oscar Klefbom: hasn’t scored in 20 games. His assist Wednesday was only his 10th of the season — in his 48th game.
It’s a hit. Or, is it?
If ever there was a statistic we are suspicious of across the 31 NHL rinks, it is the way the NHL off-ice officials track hits. However, stats are stats, and the Oilers entered the game leading the NHL in hits. Which used to be a good thing, right?
In today’s NHL however, five of the top six teams in the hits category are currently out of the playoffs. Only Pittsburgh, ranked third, is a playoff team at the moment.
It used to be that hits shook pucks loose that eventually found their way into the opponent’s net. Today, the stats suggest that perhaps you’re piling up all those hits because you’re defending all the time.
Hitting, like fighting, seems to be on its way out of the game. We’re not sure we like that all that much.
Be ready to play
It starts in goal, where Talbot let the first shot of the game get past, a Kyle Clifford shot that may have been through a screen. It was the ninth time this season Edmonton has been behind 1-0 after the opponent’s first shot of the game. Nine times!
The Oilers didn’t turn in a decent, committed offensive shift until the three-minute mark of the second period. They were down 2-0 by then, after allowing another early marker, just 58 seconds into the second period, after an egregious shift by the defence pair of Klefbom and Matt Benning.
Sure, they turned it around and dominated the second period, and Talbot played great after that first softie. Edmonton has the second-worst save percentage in the entire NHL (.897), and nobody wins with a number like that out of its goalies.
Easy, early goals kill a team, and have been a trademark of the Oilers this season.