The Edmonton Oilers’ slim playoff hopes grew dimmer Wednesday night with a 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Place.
“We didn’t respect the opponent enough,” Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It led to some poor defensive play and we got burned because of it.”
The Oilers are six points out of a playoff spot with a dozen games left in their season. The Devils snapped a seven-game winless skid.
“This is the red flag game,” Hitchcock said. “You’ve had so many games with such a high level of intensity because you’re trying to catch up and the minute you take your foot off the gas or the minute you catch your breath, you get burned. We got burned.”
LISTEN BELOW: Ken Hitchcock
New Jersey’s Kenny Agostino opened the scoring 7:34 into the first. His wrist shot went off the right shoulder of Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen and flipped up in the air. It landed behind Koskinen and he inadvertently pushed it back and over the goal line.
Edmonton’s Sam Gagner came back with a deflection to make it 1-1. On a power play, the Oilers Alex Chiasson scored his 20th goal of the season by nudging in a pass from Connor McDavid.
The Devils’ Travis Zajac tied it 2-2 with a power play goal in the last minute of the first.
The Devils controlled the second period. New Jersey defenceman Damon Severson picked the corner on a power play, then Edmonton native John Quenneville wired a slapper to the top corner.
“It’s great. Just playing here is my dream for sure and something I’d always hoped to do,” Quenneville said. “Just skating out there and having my family watching the game and stuff it just means a lot. And scoring a goal, it’s nice.”
“We just went in the locker room and said, here we are. We failed the test last night and we’ve got the same test tonight where we have to come into the third period with the lead,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We spent a lot of time this morning as a group looking at what happened and why it happened and what needed to be different and we just talked about going out an executing the things that we didn’t do last night and I thought the guys responded pretty well.”
Koskinen was pulled after allowing four goals in 18 shots in almost 33 minutes. New Jersey’s Kevin Rooney beat Edmonton netminder Anthony Stolarz to make it 5-2 for the Devils.
With the teams playing four-on-four, the Oilers’ Matt Benning one-timed a shot home with 40.5 seconds to go in the frame. McDavid earned an assist for his 100th point of the season, becoming the first Oiler since Wayne Gretzky in 1987-88 to record three straight 100-point campaigns.
“We’re in this dressing room looking to earn points each night and tonight was disappointing,” Benning said.
LISTEN BELOW: Matt Benning
New Jersey’s Blake Coleman added a shorthanded goal in the third.
“We just took ’em lightly,” McDavid said. “We took them for granted. Didn’t think we needed to work. Obviously they’re a good team and they work hard.”
LISTEN BELOW: Connor McDavid
The Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl was held off the scoresheet, ending his point streak at 14 games.
“It’s the time of year right now where, as disappointing as it is, we’ve got to move on,” Hitchcock said. “We play nothing but teams that are ahead of us in the standings and we have to catch up.”
The Oilers (31-32-7) open a three-game road trip against Arizona on Saturday.
With files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston
Watch below: (From March 8, 2019) The Edmonton Oilers are playing well and now pushing to get into this year’s NHL playoffs. John Sexsmith has more.