If there was one game the Oilers really deserved to win so far in this playoff, it was their third game in Edmonton. Instead, they fell 4-2 in the match, and 3-0 in the series.
Edmonton played a good game as much as you ask them to. In fact, they completely dominated play in 5 x 5. They dominated: 60 percent of shot attempts, 75 percent of scoring chances, 81.25 percent of high-risk scoring chances and 61.63 percent of predicted goals.
But they controlled only 33.33 percent of the goals scored. This was the killer.
Edmonton couldn’t hold back when it really mattered, and while Conor McDavid and Ryan McLeod found the back of the net at key moments, they couldn’t tackle when they needed to.
A strong bounce on Nichushkin’s first target that veered off the Darnell Nurse stick, Edmonton needed Smith to stop on Nichushkin’s second target, or Compher’s weak backbreaker.
Sure, he did some acrobatic pauses throughout the match, but the fact of the matter is that he allowed some poor goals. That wasn’t helped by Nesushkin’s second goal, as Duncan Keith led early to the point while Evan Bouchard mistook the goal. Or that in Compher’s goal, a tired Bouchard was caught on the ice against fresh legs outside the box.
Edmonton stayed strong in moments. As happened when Evander Kane removed Nazim Qadri from the match minutes after boarding the plane that hit him in the penalty area for five minutes. The Otters killed it five minutes later.
Even in the second and third, Oilers had a lot of good looks.
The Oilers now find themselves at the most difficult point imaginable: a 3-0 deficit on the series. The silver lining in it all is that the Oilers have ice on their turf, but the Colorado team hasn’t lost a single game on the road in these playoffs.
If you like chaos, then that first period was for you.
In his first turn of the game, Conor McDavid got things right by jumping off the bench, grabbing a puck from a scrum and firing a 1-0 lead. It was just the start the club needed.
But less than a minute later, things took a turn.
Evander Kane grabbed Nazim Qadri with an occasional scrutiny, sending the Avs forward forcefully into the boards. While he later left the match, the former was sent into the penalty area for five minutes. Qadri left the game and did not return.
Edmonton kept pace throughout the period and dominated the 5×5 play. So much so that Colorado only got one 5×5 shot, compared to six Oilers.
Zach Cassian had some good looks at the Oilers’ top streak, while Mike Smith stood strong.
With less than four minutes to go into the first game, Valery Neshushkin put in a pass toward the front of the Oilers net that was deflected into the Oilers net by Darnell Norris. However, it did not take the wind from the sails of the Oilers.
They kept paying, but were not rewarded. Then, four minutes later and a little over a second later, Nesushkin scored again. Duncan Keith had accidentally frozen into a change before the Oilers were forced back into their own territory. Meanwhile, Colorado managed to win the tie when Nesushkin hit one of the nets.
Oilers never give up. They continued to dominate their scoring chances, but then again, they couldn’t find the net.
Come on third, it was pretty much the same. Edmonton paid, but couldn’t get their chances. Then it was Ryan McLeod.
McLeod sprinted from the Oilers through the Neutral Zone, walked to the end of the Avs and fired a shot upstairs at Pavel Francouz. Suddenly, the oil makers were rewarded for their hard work and they were all restricted to 2.
Three minutes later, JT Compher braced for his Leon Draisaitl stumble, sending the Oilers into a powerplay where they could put the match away. As the seconds faded, Evan Bouchard entered and fired a shot from outside the post. Andrew Cogliano put the rebounding ball into the neutral zone, allowing Compher to get to it as soon as he exited the penalty area.
He beat a tired Bouchard in a foot race across the neutral zone, firing a short shot through Mike Smith’s five-hole, but the match ended.
Mikko Rantanen put the match away with a blank netter.