RALEIGH, NC - The Oilers watched a 3-0 lead disappear as the Hurricanes came storming back, handing Edmonton a 7-4 loss.
The Oilers were already a step behind before opening puck drop, with Benoit Pouliot being pulled from the lineup due to illness. The Oilers rotated their forwards throughout the game.
“We used about four different wingers in that spot for the first couple of periods,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “We were going to go to the whip with (Eberle) in the third, then he ends up getting a couple penalties there. It does throw things out of whack. Obviously, when you’ve got a guy like (Pouliot), a big, rangy guy who can eat minutes and is very effective for us, you miss him out of the lineup.”
Even with an absent forward, the Oilers got scoring from their big guns.
Edmonton got on the board when Carolina turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led Nail Yakupov on a 2-on-1 rush and elected to call his own number, sniping a shot past Cam Ward at 10:19 of the first period. Jordan Eberle recorded the lone assist.
Coming into the game, Carolina had the league’s best penalty kill unit at 88.3%. The Oilers scored two on the man advantage in the second period.
The first also ended a drought for an Oilers forward at 6:45 of the second. Nugent-Hopkins fired a pass in front to Matt Hendricks, who was screening Ward. Hendricks passed it down low to Jordan Eberle at the side of the net and the winger scored his 16th goal of the season. Eberle had not scored a goal since February 2.
Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the game, putting home his own rebound on the power play at 7:59 of the middle frame. Eberle recorded his second assist of the game.
Alexander Semin inched Carolina closer to the Oilers, making it 3-1. Semin, sprawled on the ice in front of Richard Bachman, batted the puck in past the goaltender at 9:22 of the second. Riley Nash and Michal Jordan earned the helpers.
The Hurricanes came storming back again at 13:00 of the second. Elias Lindholm redirected a backhand by Ron Hainsey at the side of the net to cut the Oilers lead to 3-2. Eric Staal had the second assist.
Jeff Skinner tied the game at 15:23 of the second on a 5-on-3 power play. Eric Staal and Lindholm had the assists.
The Hurricanes continued their roll in the third period. Andrej Nestraisil potted a power play goal at 1:40 of the final frame to take the 4-3 lead.
Carolina made it five-straight goals at 6:18 of the third with another power play tally, by Jeff Skinner.
Then Lindholm scored at 6:49 to make it 6-3 Carolina.
“They started playing in our end and they started creating chances,” Eberle said. “They got one there, then we took a couple penalties and we couldn’t seem to keep the puck out of our net on the PK.”
Nugent-Hopkins scored his second career hat trick at 9:31 to cut the Carolina lead to 6-4. The Oilers centre’s first hat trick came in his third NHL game on October 15, 2011. That goal was also Nugent-Hopkins’ 19th of the season, tying a career high.
The Oilers pulled Bachman with just under three minutes to play for the extra attacker. Lindholm netted a hat trick of his own on the empty net with 1:20 remaining.
That made the final score, 7-4.