“I didn’t think we skated well, I didn’t think we were hard enough in certain areas and to a man, not our finest hour in any way,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
“To dress tonight up any other way than ‘not good enough’ would be false.”
Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Evan Bouchard were held off the scoresheet for the first time in the playoffs, and Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the first time since the series opener against L.A.
“Forty-eight hours ago, we played a game that we really liked,” Connor McDavid said.
“Forty-eight hours later, we’re talking about not a very good one. Our game is not gone — it’s not far — obviously we need our best in Game 4.”
The Oilers scored 2:45 into the game when Derek Ryan found Warren Foegele for a chip-in goal — his first of the playoffs.
The Golden Knights outplayed the Oilers the rest of the period.
Jonathan Marchessault scored less than two minutes after Foegele, then struck again in the final minute of the frame when he tapped in a pass from Jack Eichel.
“It’s the playoffs — there’s going to be momentum swings and ups and downs and all that type of stuff, and obviously we saw that tonight,” McDavid said.
Zach Whitecloud beat Stuart Skinner short side over the glove 7:25 into the second, then Eichel made it 4-1 on an open look after Evan Bouchard fell down.
Neither starting goaltender made it to the end of the game. Jack Campbell replaced Skinner, who allowed four goals on 23 shots.
“You come into the series expecting it to be a long one,” Darnell Nurse said after the game.
“It’s a very good team on the other side — one of the hottest teams coming into the playoffs, and we’re a good team ourselves and have a lot of faith and confidence in our game, but we need to bring it each and every night and we haven’t done it consistently enough in the first three (games).”
With the teams playing four-on-four, Nicolas Roy chipped in a rebound, but the goal was disallowed after the Oilers successfully challenged for goalie interference committed by Alex Martinez.
Only 17 seconds later, Chandler Stephenson would get one that would count, and it was 5-1 Golden Knights after two.
Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit left the game with 8:16 left in the first after stretching to try to make a save. Adin Hill went the rest of the way to get credit for the win.
“We know we have more,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We’ve been a good team at responding after a tough game. I expect that come Wednesday night we’re going to bring our best game forward.”
Eichel had a goal and two assists.
Game 4 is Wednesday at Rogers Place (630 CHED Face-off Show at 6 p.m., game at 8 p.m.) followed by Friday’s Game 5 in Las Vegas.
If required, Game 6 is Sunday in Edmonton and a Game 7 would be May 16 in Vegas.
— With files from The Canadian Press