The Oilers are down two.
After a frustrating game one that saw the Oilers drop a 8-6 decision, things ended up going terribly in game two. There, Edmonton got shutout 4-0 in a lacklustre performance.
While the game started out strong for Edmonton generating offensive zone time, they were able to get a number of good looks. Colorado had a few of their own, too, but it was a frame you could walk out of feeling good, despite some questionable reffing led to the Oilers taking three penalties in the first.
But come the second, Colorado blew things open. In the span of 2:04, an Avalanche of goals came down with Arturri Lehkonen, Josh Manson and Mikko Rantanen all finding the back of the net.
First, a soft backhand pass from Darnell Nurse was sent to nobody turning the puck right over to the Avalanche. Kadri took the shot and Lehkonen tipped it home..
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For some reason, Jay Woodcroft threw the Oilers’ fourth line over the boards on the following shift. Not long after, that trio wasn’t able to come up with the puck off a board battle and Josh Manson got a long pass across the ice walking in and scoring.
Woodcroft called a timeout following to try and settle the troops, but a two-on-one saw Kadri and Rantanen in alone against a helpless Nurse with the latter of the two finding twine.
Just like that, it was a 3-0 game.
Edmonton didn’t play terribly, but these mistakes, as well as a sprinkling of “man, a save here would be nice,” made things difficult for them.
Come the third, things didn’t improve much. Kailer Yamamoto was announced out of the game with an upper-body injury. He had gotten popped with a high, but clean hit by Gabriel Landeskog partway through the first period.
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Edmonton mixed up the lines a bit and tried to get some new looks come the third, but they couldn’t keep up with Colorado. While it was the few mistakes that truly cost the Oilers, they really didn’t do much to help themselves in the game.
Darnell Nurse is clearly playing hurt and was on the ice for each of the Avs’ three goals in the second period, and he looked terrible against Colorado’s top lines. He was struggling to defend against the rush — something the whole team didn’t do well — but he also wasn’t effective in his own zone either.
Late in the second he had a partial breakaway and tried to make a move to go to the backhand, but got poke checked. He wasn’t able to make any moves with the puck, nor did he seem able to get the shot away.
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Nonetheless, the Oilers have had some big red flags pop up in this series. They haven’t been able to effectively break up any of the Avalanche’s cycles in the offensive zone, and while they had lots of offensive zone possession themselves, Edmonton just couldn’t muster a much-needed goal at any point.
Edmonton was plagued by an inability to defend against the rush earlier in the season and tonight, it came out of nowhere once again. Colorado’s speed and ability to cycle the puck was just too much for the Oilers to handle. When Edmonton got chances of their own, Colorado stymied everything.
According to Sportlogiq, Colorado was able to enter Edmonton’s zone successfully on 77.1% of their attempts, while the Oilers were able to enter theirs on just 52.9% of the time. When it came to shots from the slot, Colorado took 23 to Edmonton’s 5. On top of it all, the Avs generated 15 scoring chances off the rush and as many off the cycle, while the Oilers generated just three for each category. It paints a near-perfect picture of how inefficient Edmonton’s game was.
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While the Avalanche put two bodies on virtually any Oilers player crossing their own blue line, Edmonton was seemingly unable to adjust. To say it was frustrating would be an understatement.
As a whole, the Oilers play just wilted away as the game wore on. The frustration became real, and in the third, Zack Kassian took an inexplicable penalty. Josh Archibald rode Bowen Byram into the Oilers bench and with his head hanging over, Kassian from the bench pulled his helmet off.
Evander Kane later took an elbowing penalty catching Cale Makar high, and Nathan MacKinnon made it a 4-0 game.
The good news is that game two is now over. It’s in the past. The team can park it.
And hopefully, they take lots away from it as they head home to Edmonton.
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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 [email protected]