Instant Reaction: Edmonton Oilers fall 3-1 to Canucks, putting Pacific Division title out of reach

Warren Foegele Corey Perry Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
20 days ago
When the Vancouver Canucks last saw the Edmonton Oilers, they were a much different team than what they saw on Saturday night.
That game was played all the way back on November 6th, where Vancouver handed Edmonton a 6-2 loss. It was arguably one of the nails in the coffin for Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson’s tenure behind the bench, as days later, conversations would begin in Oilers headquarters about replacing the beleaguered coaches.
Edmonton had been through a no-good stretch to start the year, a large part of it was because of those pesky Canucks. Three of the Oilers’ losses after that game had been at the hands of the Canucks, who outscored them 16-6. Yeah, those were some tough times.
But seven days after that loss, the coaching change happened and came with it a brand new Oilers team. Between that loss and leading into Saturday’s slate of games, Edmonton has been on an incredible run as the league’s best team, posting a 45-15-5 record and a .731 points percentage — five more wins, and .031 percentage points better than the next best team.
When the two squared off again Saturday night in the season series rubber match, with the Canucks winning 3-1, some of those early season issues reared their ugly heads again for the Oilers.
While they would start the game strong outshooting Vancouver 7-0, partially in thanks to getting a power play from a J.T. Miller trip that should’ve resulted in another call his way for boarding his tripee, Vincent Desharnais, the Canucks got on the board late in the first.
Breaking into the offensive zone in the dying seconds of the frame, Sam Lafferty pushed the Oilers defence, inexcusably Darnell Nurse, backwards, opening up space to fire a shot past Stuart Skinner. It was a tough way for the period to end, given the Oilers had largely suffocated the Canucks, keeping them to the outside.
It gave the Canucks life, too, as in the second frame, they came out with energy. While the Oilers did a great job of getting to the dirty areas for scoring chances in the first, it didn’t happen in the second as their high-danger scoring chances at 5v5 dipped from 10 to just 2.
Vancouver rode that momentum through the period, leading to a Pius Suter goal with nine minutes left. Once again, it was another goal off the rush that plagued the Oilers. While they were able to clear their zone, the Canucks got it in the neutral zone, flying back in quickly. Tyler Myers would throw a puck towards the middle of the ice, deflecting off Suter and in.
Edmonton would get some life back, however, as Evander Kane tipped home a Nurse point shot. This one wasn’t off the rush, instead coming off a nice cycle deep in Vancouver’s end.
And while the first two periods felt sleepier than not, despite both team essentially playing in a game that could decide the Pacific Division winner, things sure ramps up in the third. The pace of play increased, and so did the intensity as both clubs seemed to find their playoff legs.
With Stuart Skinner pulled late, Dakota Joshua’s empty net goal would put this one out of reach.
The Oilers, however, couldn’t find a way to break through in the third, despite multiple pushes and strong chances. The loss will all but seal Vancouver as the winner of the Pacific Division.
Edmonton will focus on a Tuesday night game against the San Jose Sharks before facing the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche in a back-to-back road trip next Wednesday and Thursday.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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