GAME RECAP: Oilers Fall Last Second, 3-2 Avalanche in Overtime

Warren Foegele, Artturi Lehkonen at Rogers Place
Photo: Andy Devlin for LA Media Photography & Design

The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2 in overtime, in a Stanley Cup Playoff preview-esque showdown.

The Edmonton Oilers (40-21-4) lost to the Colorado Avalanche (43-20-5), 3-2, in overtime at Rogers Place on Saturday night. In a game that had a Stanley Cup Playoff series feel to it, it did not disappoint. Arguably, the two best players in the National Hockey League faced off in Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon and Oilers’ Connor McDavid.

This was the first of three regular season meetings between these two clubs. They will meet back at Rogers Place on April 5, and the Oilers will head out to Colorado to wrap up the season series on April 18.

Both teams went 0-for-1 on their power play opportunities, awarded seven minutes each of penalty minutes. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was assessed a two-minute minor for hooking on Josh Manson in the 1st period at 15:46. Mikko Rantanen two minutes for slashing on Ryan McLeod in the 2nd period at 0:29. RNH hooked Jonathan Drouin on a breakaway, Drouin was awarded a penalty shot in the 2nd period at 4:13. Vincent Desharnais and Josh Manson were both given five minute majors each for fighting in the 2nd period at 19:25.

It took until the middle frame for either team to light the lamp after a goaltending clinic from both sides. Stuart Skinner and Alexandar Georgiev played acceptingly well throughout the contest, in the first period Skinner denied Jonathan Drouin on a penalty shot that kept the game knotted at zeros. After the first period of play, shots were 10-7 in favour of the home team, but momentum quickly changed.

Defenseman Sean Walker, recently acquired by the Avalanche from the Philadelphia Flyers at the Deadline this past week, provided them with their two regulation goals (7th and 8th goal of the season). At 10:39 in the first period, off a 2-on-1, after a lead pass from Artturi Lehkonen sending Walker in on Skinner. Walker’s 7th goal of the season, assisted by Lehkonen (12) and Johnson (12).

Oilers’ Head Coach Kris Knoblauch told the media after the 3-2 loss in Edmonton that Vincent Desharnais did not play in the third period or overtime due to a possible injury he sustained in a fight with Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson. In doing so, forcing the Oilers to run five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

Before Walker could find his second, Warren Foegele and the Oilers answered with two of their own in the third period. While Zach Hyman thought he had the game-tying goal, it was called back on a distinct kicking motion. Unfortunately for Hyman, he snaps his home goal streak at 11 games. He now shares the Oilers’ record with Wayne Gretzky (1981-82).

Foegele was subsequently able to get one by Georgiev for his 16th of the season on a tip-in from Evan Bouchard’s point shot, tying the game up at one a piece at 05:46. In a fast-paced play, Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard attempts to clear the puck off the boards, essentially passing it to Bouchard, who uses it as a one-timer. Foegele, who was on the doorstep, puts it under the Colorado goaltender’s glove. Foegle’s 16th of the year, assisted by Bouchard (49).

Sam Carricka, new Oilers acquisition from the Anaheim Ducks, now in a new shade of orange, was able to tally his first goal as part of his new club, putting the Oilers ahead, 2-1. Corey Perry, with beautiful awareness, throws the puck toward the net, and Carrick picks it up in front. Oilers lead at 11:48, thanks to the new guys who were both at one point in the Ducks organization. Carrick (9) from Janmark (7) and Perry (8).

The Oilers were unable to hold their first and only lead of the game, however, as Walker quickly answered back for the Avalanche. Three minutes after Carrick scored, newly acquired Casey Mittelstadt (35) and Walker connected at the 14:40 mark to tie the game at two. The Avalanche were clearly the better team off the rush and in the offensive zone at multiple points throughout the night. Walker’s 8th goal of the season and second of the game from Mittelstadt (35) and Drouin (27).

It was clear the gears were shifting quickly and not in the Oilers’ favour. Being deadlocked at two with under five minutes to play, the two teams forced overtime and earned at least a point. After 60 minutes of regulation, Skinner had faced 40 shots to the Oilers 30, respectfully to Georgiev.

The extra frame seemed somewhat timid, at least to these teams’ standards, with the shots 4-3 in favour of the Oilers, and it looked like it would need a shootout to decide a winner. Artturi Lehkonen and the Avalanche had other plans, however.

Cale Makar, from his own zone, found MacKinnon down the ice. With Lehkonen wide-open down the middle, MacKinnon put it right on his stick and tucked it five-hole on Skinner in the final second of overtime. Lehkonen picks up his 12th goal of the season and second point of the game, Makar with assist No. 57, and MacKinnon adds No. 74 to his growing point totals.

The third-period shots on goal heavily favoured the Avalanche at 17-11 (40-30 overall), as were high-danger and scoring chances alone. Since going on their 16-game winning streak in December-January, the Oilers are 11-6-3 and outscoring opponents 72-60 in that span. The Oilers have dropped three of their last five, two of which to non-playoff contending teams.

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