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Oilers blew their hot start with a brutal second period, fall 5-3 to Stars in Game 3

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baggedmilk
21 days ago
The Oilers made good on their goal to secure a split in Dallas, and that set the stage to reclaim the series lead in front of a rocking crowd at Rogers Place. And things looked good when Edmonton opened up a two-goal lead after 20 minutes. That was, of course, until the wheels fell off in the second period, and the boys couldn’t defend to save their lives. We went from being in the lead to trailing in a flash, and it feels like this 5-3 loss was a major blown opportunity.

HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A START?

Would it be too much to say that the first period was one of the best the Oilers have played in the playoffs so far? Recency bias on my part? Either way, I loved how the boys hit the ice like a house on fire and set the tone with all kinds of pace and quality shots on net. According to Natural Stat Trick, the high-danger chances were 7-2 in favour of Edmonton at even strength, and with a bit of luck, they could have easily scored more than two goals. As it turns out, it would have been really nice to get another one, you know?

THE OILERS REALLY TEASED US, THOUGH

For as good as the Oilers were in the first period, they were equally bad in the second. We all knew the Stars would push back after getting lit up through 20 minutes, but it looked like the boys didn’t get that same memo. Instead of keeping the hammer down as a counterpunch to the Stars’ attack, the Oilers were flat and back on their heels in the first half of the second period, and it cost them three straight goals in under five minutes of play. It was almost like they hung the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner after the first period and expected the rest of the night to be a breeze.

CLEAR. THE PUCK. OUT.

How often have we seen the Oilers duff a clearing attempt only to have the puck wind up in the back of the net only moments later? If I said 15x, at least, would I be off? You’ve probably heard me say “respect the blue lines” a thousand times if you listen to Oilersnation Radio when we do Keys to Victory, and the Oilers did the complete opposite of that in Game 3. On the first four goals Dallas scored, all of them were the result of missed clearing attempts, and those are the little details you need to cross off if you’re going to win this late in the playoffs. That kind of stuff may have worked against L.A. and Vancouver, but the Stars are a different kind of animal.

ADAM HENRIQUE MAKES AN IMPACT

Adam Henrique was back in the lineup for the first time since Game 2 against the Canucks, and the goal he scored at the end of the second period couldn’t have come at a better time. At that point in the game, the Oilers had just given up three straight goals, and getting one back with 53 seconds left in the period was a huge moment. Obviously, Henrique’s goal wasn’t the spark we needed in the end, but I love how he gets himself to the front of the net and is positioned to make something happen. It’s the kind of simple, effective hockey that I really hope Ryan McLeod was watching because those are the exact positions on the ice he needs to get to if he wants to chip in offensively.

JASON ROBERTSON REALLY MISSED ROOPE HINTZ

When we were in Dallas for Games 1 and 2, it was surprising how quiet Jason Robertson was despite being obviously being a massive talent. After what we watched last night, I guess the missing ingredient in getting the dude going was having Roope Hintz on his line. Hintz picked up the primary assist on Robertson’s first two of three goals, and he added a totally different element to the Stars’ lineup that Edmonton hadn’t dealt with yet. If they’re going to respond with a win in Game 4, Kris Knoblauch will need to come up with some solutions on how we can stop them.

THE FOUR 5v5 GOALS AGAINST

Listen, I’m not saying that all four goals were Stuart Skinner’s fault, but what I will argue is that the game winner had to be stopped. On the first three goals, the Oilers failed to clear their own zone and those missed details allowed for chaos to brew in the Oilers’ zone, resulting in some scramble goals and unfortunate bounces. I’m not making excuses, but I am saying those first three were a team failure more so that a Stu thing.
I don’t feel the same way about Robertson’s hat trick goal, though. The Stars only registered three shots in the third period, so to have the game winner and empty netter account for two of them is a total disaster. On a night when Jake Oettinger put down a .933 save%, I think it’s fair to say that we need better than an .810 save%.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

-Connor McDavid picked up a pair of points and became the fourth fastest player in NHL history to hit 100 points
-If I were to guess, I’d bet that I’ve written about how incredible Zach Hyman is no less than 70 times this season, and I’m very excited to be doing it again. Now with 13 goals in the post-season, Hyman is only four goals away from scoring the most combined regular season and playoff goals in the NHL in 2023-24.
-Why oh why does Kris Knoblauch (Paul Coffey?) insist on reuniting Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci? That pairing has been an adventure mostly every time they’re together, and I’m confused why he seems to always get away from what’s been working.
-What’s going on with the power play? So far in this series, the Oilers have had five chances with the man advantage and haven’t gotten much of a sniff on any of them. I appreciate that we’re getting things done at even strength, but we need the big dogs to get going on the limited PP chances we’re going to get.
-On the bright side, the Oilers’ PK was perfect in the lone shorthanded situation they faced.
-Before last night’s game, the Stars hadn’t given up more than two goals on the road in any game throughout the playoffs and you have to like that the Oilers were able to score three. After a game that annoying, I fully admit I’m looking for a few silver linings.
-I know shots on goal aren’t everything, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t annoyed that the Oilers lost 5-3 in a game where they outshot the Stars 30 to 22.
-The Oilers need to win more faceoffs. It’s not that 48.2% is horrible on the dot — we’re basically talking about a coin flip — but there have been a handful of situational draws that they really need to find a way to win.

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