Oilers’ record streak a distant memory as lack of effort leads to loss vs. Wild

Matt Boldy found the back of the net twice and Filip Gustavsson made 41 stops to help the Minnesota Wild top the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have become a 40-minute hockey team in a 60-minute sport.

After a couple of weeks of brutal second periods from which they rescued their share of points, Edmonton showed up 45 minutes late for their game for their game against the Minnesota Wild Friday and got exactly what they deserved.

A 4-2 loss.

“I thought it’s as flat of a first period as we have had,” said Connor McDavid. The Oilers captain had some jump, but on this night if he didn’t do it, it wasn’t going to get done.

The depth guys took a night off the score sheet, and the big boys just couldn’t carry the mail.

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Two power-play goals were all the Oilers could muster, and one night after losses by each of Vancouver, Vegas and Los Angeles, the Oilers failed to seize a game against a Minnesota team that came to play.

“Overall it was probably 40 out of 60 (minutes), but the first half of the game we had four kills, so that takes some of the rhythm out of our game,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch, whose penalty-killing unit regained some much needed steam on a perfect four-for-four night. “Five-on-five we’d like a little more contributions from everybody, but as long as they’re pushing the pace and spending more time in the offensive zone, usually things work out.”

In a homestand that began with a loser point against the Boston Bruins, the Wild didn’t leave any points hanging around. The score was 1-1 after 40 minutes, a situation that Edmonton had mastered with a 9-2-1 record when tied after two periods heading into the game.

But as often happens, the team that earned their breaks got the breaks in the third period. Jonas Brodin’s sharp-angle slapper glanced off of Calvin Pickard’s glove and went in — a weak goal in what has been a fine season by the Oilers backup — while Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson was flawless at the other end, beaten only by Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman on the power play.

The Oilers are 4-4-1 since the All-Star break, having ridden a team record 16-game winning streak into the break.

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“You look back at that streak that we had going,” Mattias Ekholm said. “It was about not letting them score, more than us scoring. Then we got the timely goals. Tonight it was on the other side of that, so that’s something that we’ll look at and be better at.”

The Oilers are now 2-10-0 versus the Wild since 2019-20, their worst record against any NHL opponent by some measure. For whatever reason, the Wild have the Oilers’ number — no matter who sits where in the standings when they meet.

Edmonton is still 20-4-1 in their last 25 games, and 8-1-1 in their past nine home games. It’s that point in the season where the energy is running low, and attention to detail isn’t what it was when everyone was dialled in during that win streak.

“This time of year you have to find ways to win and I thought we did enough to find a way to win tonight,” Minny head coach John Hynes said. “I thought we found a way.”

Now Calgary comes in for a Hockey Night in Canada tilt, their coaching staff in the press box pre-scouting Edmonton on Friday.

An Oilers team that has games in hand on everyone enjoyed a less hectic schedule for the first two-thirds of their season. Now they’ll make up that ground with a jam-packed schedule between now and the playoffs.

“I like playing more games. I think guys get into a good rhythm and good routine,” said McDavid, whose two-assist night pulls him to within 10 points of leader Nikita Kucherov (95 to 85). “Those stops and starts in the schedule, the rest is nice, but sometimes you can lose your game — as we saw coming back from the break, which hasn’t been the same.

“I am looking forward to playing some consistent hockey.”

IN THE CREASE — Draisaitl’s second-period goal was his 248th career power-play point, passing Mark Messier for sole possession of third place in Oilers franchise history … Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ assist gave him 15-35-50 on the season, his eighth 50-point season … McDavid extended his home points streak to 21 games (12 G, 38 A).

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