Sloppy Edmonton Oilers let Sharks back into game, lose in shootout
Fail to move into eighth and final playoff spot after taking 3-1 lead
EDMONTON - Maybe the Edmonton Oilers will find that killer instinct before the season is over. Or maybe they won’t.
Maybe they will continue to let games slip out of their grasp — like they did on Wednesday at Rexall Place when a 3-1 third-period advantage turned into nothing more than a single point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks.
“It hurts,” Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said. “We should be able to lock those games down. We’re still trying to learn how to play that complete game.”
The Sharks, who snapped a five-game road losing streak with the victory, improved to 13-10-6 while the Oilers stand at 11-11-7.
Logan Couture, who put away two goals in regulation for San Jose, sniped a shootout marker, then defenceman Dan Boyle beat Devan Dubnyk to end the game.
Jordan Eberle scored the only goal for the Oilers in the shootout.
“That’s the frustrating thing about it. We had chances to make it 4-1 and I think if we bury one of those, it’s a different outcome,” said centre Sam Gagner, who now has five goals in his last five games after scoring the game’s first goal on a first-period power play.
“Instead, they score on the power play and get a break on a bounce in the middle. We have to get better in those situations.”
The Oilers headed into the game without centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was at the rink in the morning, but scratched before the puck drop because of a flu bug. Lennart Petrell stepped in between Mike Brown and Teemu Hartikainen, who was the last-minute sub, while Ryan Smyth started between Ryan Jones and Eberle.
Hartikainen played just seven shifts in the first two periods and didn’t even see the ice in the third.
“Even when it was 3-3 we pushed back. We had some chances and we had some chances in overtime,” said Horcoff.
“We would have loved to have taken those two points in regulation, but we’re doing a lot of good things.
“It’s another point,” Horcoff continued. “We’re still moving forward. You have to get used to playing in those games. You can’t tighten up. We pushed back when it was 3-3, but you let it go to a shootout and anything can happen.”
The Oilers didn’t capitalize on a four-minute power play in the second. They also gave up a power-play goal to Couture on one of only two man advantages the Sharks had; and they were stung by lapses in the defensive zone.
Couture’s first goal went off the skate of defenceman Mark Fistric, but came on the heels of sloppy coverage. Then Tommy Wingels, on yet another defensive-zone breakdown, beat Dubnyk short side midway through the third to tie the game.
Horcoff redirected a pass from Nick Schultz in the second to pull the Oilers up 2-1, then early in the third Jones, working behind the Sharks net, took the puck from Matt Irwin and wrapped his first goal of the season under Antti Niemi’s pad to give the Oilers a 3-1 lead.
The Sharks are now 6-10-6 in their last 22 games; the Oilers are 3-0-2 since they were thumped 6-0 by the Nashville Predators.
“When you go up by two in the third you usually feel like you’re in a comfortable position, but that’s a veteran hockey team,” Jones said. They’re not going to give up. They can score goals and they’ve been in this position before.
“That was a game, if we had won it outright, (that) would have put us in a playoff position. If we continue to play well, we’ll have more of those games going forward this year.”
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