‘A wasted point’: Oilers’ unstructured play results in shootout loss to Red Wings

EDMONTON — With 10 goals allowed in their last two games, both against teams that will not make the playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers know what a 5-4 shootout loss against Detroit is. 

“A wasted point, for sure,” said Leon Draisaitl. 

Jack Campbell was the second best goaltender by a country mile, on a night where the Oilers had 84 attempted shots on goal to just 32 by the Detroit Red Wings. And in extra time, the Oilers’ big boys couldn’t deliver in overtime or the shootout, as they dropped their sixth straight game that extended past regulation. 

An Oilers team that was once automatic when Connor McDavid, Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse hopped the boards for three-on-three overtime has been anything but dominant this season. On Wednesday neither team had a shot on goal for the first three minutes, evidence that the rest of the NHL has figured out that trying to run and gun with Edmonton in the three-on-three setting is bad for business. 

“A lot of times, stuff gets created off of shots, (and play gets) going the other way,” said Draisaitl. “So if there’s no shots, there’s not really any breaks going the other way. So yeah, it was a snoozy one.” 

On one hand, Edmonton is 9-1-3 in its past 13 games. Not much to complain about there. 

On the other hand, they’re 3-1-3 in their past seven, and on Wednesday they were loose and lacked structure against Detroit. 

Sure, they had the puck all night. But there were too many 40-foot passes, not enough exiting the zone as a group of five, and the work in front of Detroit’s net was nowhere near committed enough. Nor was Edmonton’s shot-blocking. 

There are nights when the entire team wants to play the way the top guys play — a mix between the Harlem Globe Trotters and the ’72 Soviets — and for the portion of the roster that needs to play straight-ahead hockey, it’s a trait that leads to wasted offensive opportunities and too many chances against. 

If Campbell had played at Husso’s level this would have been a clean, 4-2 win. But he did not, and his shooters couldn’t rescue the second point in the extra session or overtime. 

“A couple of tough ones to give up tonight, but things have been going really well and I don’t want to lose the momentum,” said Campbell. “I’ll definitely look at it and move on.” 

Edmonton is at the precipice of undoing a lot of the good work they have piled up since Christmas, having dropped a point in Philadelphia, another one here versus Detroit, and two in a 6-2 loss in Montreal. It’s not even about the results as much as the level of play, and that stingy defensive team that allowed two or less goals in 10 of 17 games after Christmas, now has given up three or more in five of its past seven. 

“Other teams are trying to score too, you know,” Draisaitl said. “It’s a hard league. Definitely some things to improve on, analyze and be better.” 

McDavid ran his points total up to 99 with a two-assist night, and was the only Oiler to score in the shootout. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and an assist, his 25th and 26th goals on the season. 

But only eight days after the Red Wings thought they had the better of the play in a 5-2 loss at home, they walked into Rogers Place and never trailed. 

“I love the way we hung in there,” said Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde. “We managed the third period pretty good and we had an excellent kill at the end of the game. All and all it was an excellent two points.” 

The Rangers are here Friday. 


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