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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Devils 6, Oilers 3 post-game Oil Spills: One massive step back

Last night was a must-win game. The Oilers, as I discussed on Tuesday, are blessed with an easy schedule down the stretch. But no games in the NHL are ever easy, automatic wins, especially when you come out as flat as the Oilers did last night.

What happened?

The tempo for the night was set when the Devils scored their first goal. The Oilers, who started very slowly, got a chance to turn the momentum around with a power play opportunity, but they squandered it. Just as the power play was ending, Blake Coleman managed to get a very soft shot past Mikko Koskinen to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.

Minutes later, the Oilers got themselves on the board with an ugly one of their own. Matt Benning fired a puck through a series of players on the net that Sam Gagner would deflect past Cory Schneider.

Soon after that, it looked like the Oilers were finally sitting in the driver’s seat. On their second power play opportunity of the game, Alex Chiasson re-directed a pass from Connor McDavid past Schneider to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead. It was Chiasson’s 20th goal of the season.

This was a back-breaker. The Oilers failed to clear the puck out of their zone in the dying seconds of the first period and they forgot about Travis Zajac standing in front of the net.

After that, the wheels just fell off. The Devils would explode for three goals in the second period to give them a 5-2 lead the Oilers wouldn’t be able to erase. The nail in the coffin really came in the third period, though. The Oilers pulled the game to within two goals, got a power play opportunity, and then proceeded to allow a short-handed back-breaker that made it 6-3.

By the numbers

This game was a tale of three different periods. The game was sloppy in the first, as the Oilers came out slowly but started to play better as time went on. After giving up that game-tying goal late in the first, though, the Oilers were absolutely dominated in the second. Edmonton turned on the burners in the third when behind 5-3, but it wasn’t enough. You need to play a full 60 minutes, and, as you can see on the shot chart, they didn’t.

Thoughts…

  • There’s no way other way to put it. That was a miserable effort in what should have been a very easy win. I mean, in the NHL there aren’t really any automatic wins, but this injury-decimated Devils team on the second leg of a back-to-back is as close to a tap-in you can get. The Oilers now have to compensate for that loss against the Devils with a win against a difficult team like Calgary or San Jose. The four easy games (NJ, ANA, LA, and OTT) they have left afforded them some breathing room in their hard games, but now that has been thrown out the window.
  • The defence and goaltending were horrendous last night. A good chunk of New Jersey’s top players (Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Sami Vatanen) were out due to injury and they still managed to score six goals. New Jersey’s top forward in terms of ice time last night was Blake Pietila, a guy with four points in 34 career NHL games. If Mikko Koskinen is going to be as bad as he was last night, the Oilers won’t be able to beat any of their easy opponents down the stretch. He looked completely lost out there last night. It wasn’t fully on him, though, as some of Edmonton’s top defenders, like Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson, had some very poor reads in the defensive zone. It’s confounding to me that the team can look so solid defensively one night and so, so, sooooooo terrible defensively the next.
  • Ty Guy

    did anyone else catch the eye roll Nurse gave Gulutzan leaving the bench after his “pep-talk” last night….i hope this is not how all messages are taken in by this team…stinks of trouble.

  • Spydyr

    So about this summers draft pick.It should be another high pick. Drafting high is one of the things the Oilers do consistently. That and missing the playoffs.Although they do go hand in hand.

  • Ty Guy

    So Sorry Oilers fans…..admittedly, i have tuned out for the past month or so and made games less of a priority…about the time they actually started to play slightly better. i decided to tune in yesterday at the 19:09 mark of the second (2-2). maybe its a curse but darned if they didn’t lay a turd as soon as i clicked it on and continued to let it run down their legs the rest of the game….i will do my best to NOT watch for the remainder of the season. Good luck Oilers! my Ulcers already feel better!

      • hammer313

        They guy was just voicing his thoughts that many are having. Check out many articles and comments, many have checked out after being long, long, term fans. They just want the roller coaster to come to an end. The organization has not handled themselves in any kind of a professional manner, but think they should charge a ridiculous dollar to watch their product. Unacceptable and I, personally, can’t blame the guy.

      • Ty Guy

        i am a fan, thats why i apologized for watching. i feel like i cursed them. maybe you should take a step back too skippy, its easier on your constitution and you may be less mad at the world!

  • Simba99

    Pretty sure it will be easy trading some of our 4 million d men in the summer. Time to evaluate contracts and play for next year. For veterans like nurse and Larsen ya bad shift here there but continued bad play deserve abandonment via trades

  • Said it before, this team plays it’s worst when they’re knocking on a playoff spot. Seems like whenever we’re 2-5pts within a spot the wheels get blown off and we say “that’s the end for them”.

  • toprightcorner

    Pitiful effort. I hope this isn’t the traditional long losing streak after a long quality stretch. It is almost like after 10 games of playing really well, all but McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge think they have figured it out and don’t have to put in the hard work required every night, even against weaker teams.

    If they lose 2 of the next 4 games, they are done and then I hope they go on one of their long losing streaks with 2 wins in 10 games just to increase their lottery odds.

  • VK63

    Imagine the poor sods in charge of Oilers seat renewals this year.
    For a wee moment they had a glimmer of hope to fire the imagination, that took a giant boot to the junk last night. And naturally, it came on home ice. Recall the local pundits whining about the Oilers being neglected on the US feeds this season. Yah, about that. Rayzer waxed eloquently to our southern brethren about how inept this team/organization/franchise is.

    Twas painfully glorious actually.