Inconsistent Oilers give up pair of third-period goals, drop second straight game; Hall may face disciplinary action from league
Cullen scores twice, adds assist for Minnesota in victory as Edmonton drops below .500
EDMONTON - The perpetrator, who was notably contrite and obviously frustrated with the Edmonton Oilers’ ongoing woes, said he had absolutely no intention of injuring Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck.
Still, Taylor Hall may have to explain that to Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s disciplinarian.
With the Oilers down 3-1, and less than three minutes left on the clock Thursday at Rexall Place, Hall drove himself into Clutterbuck, who had to be helped off the ice. He left the rink with his left thigh wrapped, which would indicate a charley horse, not a knee injury, and he was on the team flight to Calgary.
Clutterbuck was third in league stats last season with 288 hits and has been at the top of the category in the past.
Hall left the game with two hits, giving him 10 on the season.
“I made the decision to go and hit him, but I don’t feel like I led with my knee. I’ve been hit like that before and it’s not a good feeling. I felt I got him with my hip,” said Hall, who received five minutes for kneeing and a game misconduct. He had eight penalty minutes in his first 15 games this season.
“For a second there, I didn’t even know if it was going to be a penalty. I just went through my check and he kind of ran into me at the same time as I was going at him.
“I didn’t change direction ... I felt I got a good chunk of him with my hip,” said Hall, who did say the hit may have been a little late. “It sucks to see him down, but I don’t really think it was that dirty. I could have hit him in the head, and that thought crossed my mind.
“I really didn’t want to bury him too bad.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t see it that way. He said Hall just looked like a player who was trying to hurt someone.
“How would it be if it was reversed — if it was Clutter hitting Hall that way? That’s what I wonder,” Yeo said.
“I just thought the puck was right there,” Hall said. “For that instant, he was a little bit vulnerable, but I didn’t want to catch him with his head down or hit him in his head.
“I just wanted to get a piece of him and, hopefully, get the puck back.”
Now 6-7-3, and three points back of the 8-6-2 Wild, the Oilers will wrap up their five-game homestand Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes — a game Hall may or may not play in pending a ruling from Shanahan.
The Oilers are 1-3 in this home stretch and have a nine-game road trip looming.
“Our game completely changed once they scored and I don’t know if it’s because that killed the momentum or they just took it to us,” said Jordan Eberle. “But before we knew it, we were behind the eight ball and just chasing again.
“It’s starting to get really frustrating.”
The Oilers had an 8-3 advantage on the shot clock after a scoreless opening period and they got the game’s first goal, a vintage wraparound by Ryan Smyth on his 37th birthday.
But, once again, the Wild found a way to do away with the Oilers.
In the division rivals’ first meeting since Dec. 29, 2011, Matt Cullen sandwiched a pair of goals — his first on a second backhand and his second a shot he banked in off the far post — around a goal that Devin Setoguchi put past Devan Dubnyk two minutes into the third.
“We started the game playing the way we’re supposed to play,” said Oilers defenceman Nick Schultz. “Guys were in the right spot, we were doing the right things. That’s the way we have to play.
“But if don’t get goals, it seems we get away from (our game) and try and do different things.”
“We even talked about it between the second and third,” said Smyth.
“We talked about being patient and about sticking the game plan. Then it’s another odd-man rush and the puck is in the back of the net.”
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