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Photo Credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Lightning 5, Oilers 2 post-game Oil Spills: Burnt out

The Oilers, playing in the second leg of a road back-to-back, got outclassed by one of the best teams in the league last night.

What happened…

Much like against Washington, the Oilers conceded the first goal a few minutes into the game. Kris Russell flubbed a clearing attempt, giving the Lightning a three-on-two. Steven Stamkos did a give-and-go with Nikita Kucherov to get himself open in the faceoff circle before roofing a shot over Mikko Koskinen.

This was a backbreaker. The Oilers had plenty of chances to tie the game in the first period, but Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall in net for Tampa Bay. Then, with 30 seconds to go in the first, Tyler Johnson brought the puck to the net and Brayden Point would eventually tap in a puck sitting in the crease.

In the second period with the game being played at four-on-four, Ryan Strome finally scored his first goal of the season. Strome and Drake Caggiula entered the zone, the latter opened up some space for the former, and then Strome ripped a shot past the screened Vasilevskiy. That’s gotta be a nice feeling for Strome to finally get the monkey off his back. Hopefully this opens the floodgates for him.

Just a minute later, Tampa Bay regained their two-goal lead. Point got the puck to the point to Ryan McDonagh and Yanni Gourde got his stick on the shot to fool Koskinen.

Yet again, Tampa Bay scored a goal right before the end of the period. This time, Stamkos found Kucherov alone in the slot. Like with the opening goal, if you give a player like Kucherov that much time and that much open space, you’re going to have a bad time.

Leon Draisaitl made the game interesting again right off the hop in the third period. With the Oilers on the power play, Ty Rattie made a nice no-look spin pass from the side of the net to hit an open Draisaitl in stride for an easy tap-in goal. That’s a nicely drawn up and executed play from PP1.

I don’t blame Koskinen for most of the goals last night, but this was ugly. With Tampa on the power play, Kucherov iced the game, scoring on a soft wrister that flubbed through Koskinen’s pads as he went down.

Earlier in the game, Lightning rookie Mathieu Joseph clocked Kris Russell with a questionable hit into the boards. Later on, Milan Lucic took exception, hunting him down and nearly starting a line-brawl. There’s the crazy Lucic we all want to see.

By the numbers…

It looks at a glance like the Oilers and Lightning played a fairly equal game last night given the teams were largely split down the middle in terms of shot attempts. That said, where you can tell Tampa was the better and more energized team is in the high-quality chances. Tampa had 10 and Edmonton had four at even strength. While the Oilers’ defenders frequently allowed the Lightning forwards to get in tight for high-quality chances, the Lightning did a good job of protecting their net, making life difficult for Edmonton’s offence.

Thoughts…

  • The Oilers were playing their seventh game in 11 days in their sixth different city. I don’t want to make excuses or anything, but I’m not devastated by these back-to-back losses. Tampa and Washington are two damn good teams and I thought the Oilers played them fairly well. They got off to a slow start against the Capitals and had some tired-looking lulls against Tampa, but both games were still a much better effort given the circumstances than what we saw last season. I think a win in Florida and a 2-2 trip would be a success.
  • While Mikko Koskinen allowed five goals, he made quite a few big saves to keep the Oilers alive early on. Really the only ugly goal he allowed was the fifth one on the power play to Kucherov. Otherwise, he allowed the Oilers to play a run-and-gun game in which they bled a lot of high-quality chances against. The unfortunate thing was that the Oilers weren’t able to solve Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played a damn good game. The Oilers, too frequently, allowed Tampa’s elite gunners to get close to the net. There isn’t much Koskinen can do when Stamkos or Kucherov has an open shot a few feet away from the net.
  • The Kris Russell and Darnell Nurse pairing had a rough night. Russell handled the puck poorly on a few different occasions and Nurse didn’t do a good job compensating for it. The best example was on the first goal when Russell flubbed the clearing attempt and Nurse moved over to cover the puck carrier, letting Stamkos get open by himself in a high-danger area.
  • Milan Lucic finally gooned it up last night. After Mathieu Joseph gave Russell a questionable hit from behind, Lucic tracked him down and held him accountable for it. How much of a deterrence will this be? It’s hard to say. I mean, the camera panned to Joseph giggling on the bench afterwards, so I’m not sure this would stop him from throwing that kind of hit again. We’ve been told many times Lucic is here to scare players away from plays like this and, well, they’re still happening, so clearly he has to step up and do something differently.