The Day After +2.0: Two goals from Dylan Holloway not enough for Oilers

Edmonton Oilers Dylan Holloway
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 days ago
If game one couldn’t have been drawn up any better, game two couldn’t have been drawn up any worse for the Edmonton Oilers.
Wednesday night’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Kings went about as poorly as one could imagine for the Oilers. Instead of getting up 2-0 as they did in game one, they faced a 2-0 deficit with five minutes to go in the first frame.
And while they were able to fight back, tying the game twice from being down 3-1 and 4-3, it just wasn’t enough. On a night where every bounce seemed to go the way of the Kings, it took all of two minutes for that to happen again in overtime.
Kings defenceman Mikey Anderson had dumped a puck from his own blueline towards the Oilers’ zone, where Quinton Byfield at the center line knocked it down. But instead of the puck heading into the corner, it landed right on the stick of a streaking Anze Kopitar, who wired L.A.’s fifth goal of the night past Stuart Skinner.
It’s not like the Oilers played poorly, but instead, it felt like every bounce that could’ve gone the Kings’ way did. On their opening goal of the game, Evan Bouchard went to bounce a puck off the wall to where forwards Warren Foegele and Leon Draisaitl were, but the two watched it go by as Kopitar jumped it at the blue line, eventually finding Adrian Kempe in the slot.
On their second, scored by Kempe, a Kopitar pass bounced twice before he was able to track it in the air, batting it in. Their third, scored by Drew Doughty late in the first, was an awkward play where Stuart Skinner said he expected a move, but that was thwarted by a strong backcheck from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Instead, the puck slid past Skinner. And then, there was the fourth goal: another play where a bouncing puck found its way through the bodies.
Games like this where, again, you feel like the universe is against you, and the puck is just not working well for you and all these things, it’s a part of life,” said Skinner. “I’m sure we’ve all had those feelings before. It’s part of playoffs, too.
“The take away from tonight is just wash it out. I know who I am, I know my game, and I’m going to get back to work.”
Despite a sluggish first half of the game, the Oilers were able to turn it on and tighten it up.
That’s in thanks to Dylan Holloway, who scored his first two NHL playoff goals on excellent wrist shots that beat Cam Talbot.
Since his recall, his game has shown new life. His tenacity on pucks in all three zones has been apparent, but the young winger is showing confidence, too, something he feels he has a lot of.
“I’m feeling confident. I think playing with Janny and Sammy (Janmark and Carrick) there, they’re two great players,” he said. “They make some nice plays and make it easy for me. Credit to them, credit to our team for being so resilient, but ultimately, we didn’t get the win, so it doesn’t really matter.”
What does matter, however, is that along with his two markers and one from Brett Kulak in the first, the only goal scored by a top-six player was from Zach Hyman’s power play marker in the second period.
Depth scoring has been a point of contention in Edmonton for years, and this season was no different. From the time Kris Knoblauch took over to the NHL’s trade deadline, the Oilers scored at a 5v5 rate of 5.03 goals per hour when both McDavid and Draisaitl were on the ice. When it was just the former on the ice, they scored 4.56 goals per hour, and 3.08 with just the latter. When neither of the Oilers’ top-six centers were on the ice, they scored just a measly 1.56 goals per hour.
And between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season, while the numbers for the big guns remained strong, the production when they weren’t on the ice improved greatly, climbing to 2.68 goals per hour — a much more respectable rate.
That’s in part due to Holloway’s emergence, but the Oilers’ bottom six has found more ways to contribute. On nights like last, when the top six can’t find the offence, the Oilers need to find the production somewhere else.
But it’s not going to be the key for the club as they head to Southern California, as they will need to find a way to cut down on the goals against — another all too common theme for this team. The good news, however, is that of the Kings’ nine goals, there are only four you could truly say were clean goals: Anderson’s 2nd-period goal in game one, as well as Kempe’s first goal, Fiala’s goal and Kopitar’s game-winner.
The other five all bounced in weird ways, limiting Skinner’s ability to find them or make a play on them. It’s not to say he wouldn’t want them back, as he undoubtedly would, but the truth is there’s little he could do.
“You saw some of the goals they scored last game, you saw some of the goals they scored tonight, not to take anything away, but they seem to be flukey goals somehow,” said Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm. “It’s a bat out of the air, it’s a shot from outside the hash marks on the ice. They just seem to find its way through, and that’s the playoffs. They’re putting pucks to the net, and they’re going in for them.
“I still like the way we played, we still had the puck a lot, and I think we’re managing that in a good way. Obviously, we’d like to keep it a little bit less against, but I like our game. It’s the playoffs: it’s highs and lows and we weren’t going to go 16-0. I think the group can find confidence in a lot of things we did, but obviously there’s some things we can also do better.”
Puck drop for game three in L.A. is set for 8:30 p.m. MST.

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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