If there was one game the Oilers really deserved in this playoff so far, it was game three in Edmonton. Instead, they fell 4-2 in the game and 3-0 in the series.
Edmonton played as good a game as could be asked for. In fact, they absolutely dominated the game at 5×5. They controlled: 60 percent of shot attempts, 75 percent of goal chances, 81.25 percent of dangerous goal chances and 61.63 percent of expected goals.
But they only controlled 33.33 percent of the goals scored. That was the killer.
Edmonton couldn’t prevail when it counted, and while Connor McDavid and Ryan McLeod hit the net at crucial moments, they couldn’t save when they needed to.
A hard hit on Nichushkin’s first goal deflected off Darnell Nurse’s bat, Edmonton needed Smith to stop Nichushkin’s second or the weak compher backbreaker.
Sure he made some acrobatic stops throughout the game but the truth is he conceded some feeble goals. It didn’t help that Duncan Keith got the point early on Nichushkin’s second goal while Evan Bouchard missed the scorer. Or that when Compher scored, a tired Bouchard was caught on the ice against fresh legs from the penalty area.
Edmonton stayed strong at moments. Like when Evander Kane Nazem Kadri took minutes out of the game with a boarding that landed him in the box for five minutes. The Oilers killed those five minutes.
Even after second and third place, the Oilers looked a ton good.
The Oilers are now in the most difficult situation imaginable: a 3-0 series deficit. The silver lining is that the Oilers have ice at home, but Colorado is a team that hasn’t lost a single game away from home in these playoffs.
If you liked chaos, then this first period was for you.
On his first shift of the game, Connor McDavid broke things up by jumping off the bench, snatching the puck from a scrum and heading home the 1-0 goal. That was exactly the start the club needed.
But less than a minute later, things took a turn.
Evander Kane caught Nazem Kadri with a cross check and sent the Avs hard forward into the gang. While the later left the game, the former was sent to the penalty box for five minutes. Kadri left the game and didn’t return.
Edmonton kept up the pace throughout, dominating the game at 5×5s. So much so that Colorado only got one shot at 5×5s compared to the Oilers’ six.
Zack Kassian had some good looks at the Oilers top line while Mike Smith stayed strong.
With just four minutes remaining, Valeri Nichushkin played a pass toward the top of the Oilers net that was deflected into the Oilers net by Darnell Nurse. That didn’t take the wind out of the Oilers’ sails, however.
They kept pushing but were not rewarded. Then, four and a little minutes into the second, Nichushkin scored again. Duncan Keith mistakenly iced the puck on the shift before forcing the Oilers back into their own zone. Colorado, meanwhile, was able to win the tie by getting the jump when Nichushkin fired one home.
The Oilers never let up. They continued to dominate scoring chances but again just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Coming to the third, it was pretty much the same. Edmonton pressed but failed to convert his chances. Then it was Ryan McLeod.
Speeding from the Oilers’ zone through the neutral zone, McLeod entered the end of the Avs and fired a shot up at Pavel Francouz. Suddenly, the Oilers were being rewarded for their hard work and were all tied at 2 p.m.
Three minutes later, JT Compher was called for tripping Leon Draisaitl and sending the Oilers into a power play where they were able to end the game. As the seconds ticked by, Evan Bouchard came in and shot from the outside of the post. Andrew Cogliano brought the rebound into the neutral zone and allowed Compher to come as he came out of the penalty area.
He beat a tired Bouchard in a foot race through the neutral zone and fired a soft short through Mike Smith’s five holes, nearly ending the game.
Mikko Rantanen finished the game with an empty net.