Ducks hunt Oilers 3-1
|Photo by Marko Ditkun / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club.|
Taylor Hall scored his 15th goal of the season and Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves in the loss.
As a result, the Oilers have been mathematically eliminated from post-season contention.
"We knew we were out of the playoffs before tonight," said a disappointed Hall post-game. "We made it really tough on ourselves losing three straight games on the (four-game) road trip. To have another season out of the playoffs, to have another season where we're playing meaningless games at the end of the year, is very frustrating and something we're not proud of."
"We knew it was going to take a lot at this point to get in," added Jeff Petry, who recorded an assist in 15:47 of ice time. "The schedule is 48 games this year and we can't let being eliminated from the playoffs affect the way we approach the next few games.
"We owe it to each other and the coaching staff in here."
Hall and the Oilers wasted little time getting on the board. Exactly one minute into the game, No. 4 accepted an outlet pass from Jordan Eberle, raced down the far side on a 2-on-1 with Sam Gagner and wristed a shot past Jonas Hiller for the icebreaker.
With the goal Hall bumped his season total to 45 points, guaranteeing a point-per-game pace by season's end. He's the first Oiler to achieve that since Doug Weight did it in 2000-01 when the former captain recorded 90 points in 82 games.
The Oilers had a chance to extend their lead at 6:53 when Daniel Winnik was assessed a boarding minor. They peppered Hiller with a number of quality shots, but the game remained in a 1-0 score.
Mike Brown was sent off for high-sticking at 19:55. On the ensuing faceoff (which was won by the Oilers), miscommunication between Dubnyk and his defencemen led to a wild scramble at the lip of the crease. Cam Fowler capitalized on the goalie's fumble, slapping the puck across the goal line with 1.1 left on the clock.
"We had an unfortunate bounce on that goal," said Petry. "It changed the pace of the game."
Edmonton led 9-6 in shots after one.
Deadline acquisition Jerred Smithson had a wonderful chance to extend the lead three minutes into the second as he danced into the slot and found himself one-on-one with Hiller, but his far side shot was kicked out by the goalie.
"We had plenty of excellent chances in the slot, but there were some rebounds on Hiller that we didn't take advantage of," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger.
Penalties to Ryan Jones (holding) and Shawn Horcoff (interference) gave the Ducks a pair of power-play chances early in the middle frame, but the Oilers kicked them off before the man-advantage tables turned at 12:55.
Putting an end to a glorious scoring chance as Eberle slalomed down Main Street, Gagner was sent crashing into the goaltender, resulting in an interference call on Winnik -- his second penalty of the game.
For the second time in the game, the Oilers couldn't cash with the extra man.
"We got out-executed," said Sam Gagner, who was held off the scoresheet in the loss. "We had some good parts of the game, but… We turned some pucks over in the neutral zone and in our own zone, too. It's hard to sustain anything when you do that."
As a result of one…
Leading an odd-man rush with the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne, Kyle Palmieri gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead with 56.4 seconds to play in the middle frame. Palmieri's cross-slot pass attempt was disrupted by the sliding effort of Ladislav Smid but, with the rebound sitting at the edge of the crease, the 22-year-old scooped up his own rebound and popped a shot past a sliding Dubnyk.
"I thought as a team we deserted our game," said Krueger. "It's hard for me to point at one or two guys when as a group, we have to be disappointed with the result leaving our game plan. I don't want to go there (singling anyone out).
"They got that late goal because the turnovers had been adding up. Mathematics took over and we never seemed to recover."
Overlapping minor penalties to Saku Koivu, Hall and Corey Perry kept the penalty box doors swinging early in the third, but neither team could find the back of the net on the ensuing man-advantages.
At 8:53 of the third, an insurance marker by Perry silenced the 16,839 in attendance as an Edmonton comeback turned unlikely. After slicing through the entire Oilers defence, an untouched Ryan Getzlaf delivered a pretty, tape-to-tape backhand pass to Perry on the doorstep, subtly nudging it into the gaping cage behind Dubnyk for a 3-1 Ducks lead.
"We were trying to change (the momentum), but the turnovers increased dramatically and the game changed because of what we were doing," said Krueger.
"We really played into their hands."
The Oilers pulled Dubnyk with 2:30 to play. The Ducks hit the post twice, but couldn't add another to their tally. Still, Anaheim cruised to the horn in what resulted in a 3-1 win over Edmonton.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick