The Edmonton Oilers headed into their home tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes looking to snap a season-high four-game losing steak. Unfortunately, the team was dealt a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Hurricanes, which marks the Oilers’ first five-game losing streak since April 2019. The most concerning part of this losing streak is that four of the five losses have come on home ice after much of the team’s success at Rogers Place this season.
“We did some good things. We probably gave up a couple of too many chances late in the second. Mikko was great and made a couple of saves. We generated some chances but didn’t find a way to put them in. That’s kind of been the story of this homestand.”Connor McDavid
This game also marked the return of defenseman Ethan Bear, who was traded to Carolina in the offseason for Warren Foegele. The Oilers were still shorthanded on the blue line, as Duncan Keith, Slater Koekkoek, and Kris Russell are still out with injuries, forcing head coach Dave Tippett to continue to play rookie defenseman Markus Nemelainen, while William Lagesson also drew back into the lineup. With tensions running high, the team needs to find a way to break out of their slump after suffering another tough loss.
Mikko Koskinen a Mixed Bag
The Oilers were outshot significantly in this game, and Mikko Koskinen gave his team every opportunity to win. He made a plethora of 10-bell saves in this game despite conceding the game’s opening goal. The first Hurricanes goal came on the power play in which he made the initial save and could not stop the second opportunity or get any help from his penalty killers to clear the puck.
The Finnish netminder also allowed the game’s second goal to Nino Niederreiter, which is probably one he would like to have back, but he continued to battle and did not lose focus, stopping 13 of 14 shots in that period. The Oilers cut the lead in half in the second period, and Koskinen remained sharp, making a number of timely saves to not surrender momentum back to the Hurricanes after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’s goal.
Unfortunately for Koskinen, his night will be stained by a blunder behind the net where he mishandled a puck off the boards that ended up in the back of the net with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third period. Overall, Koskinen played well in this game and this season, but it seems there is always a couple of preventable goals that find their way through him and end up hurting the team.
Oilers Offense Stymied by Shorthanded Hurricanes
The Oilers could not get more than one goal past Carolina netminder Frederik Andersen, although they did dominate much of the play in the third period. Despite being without Tony DeAngelo, Brett Pesce, and Jake Gardiner, the Hurricanes’ tough defensive style was in full effect.
Both McDavid and Draisaitl were held off the scoresheet in this one, despite both players having three shots each in the game and playing on the same line for a good portion of the game. The Oilers’ league-best power play could not muster up a goal on either of their two attempts on the man advantage against the second-best penalty-killing team in the league.
The team as a whole had their chances at times but were unable to build momentum or sustain pressure as the game progressed. They were only able to generate 23 shots on goal in the game, and against a stingy team like the Hurricanes with solid goaltending, it just wasn’t enough to get the win.
Hyman Injured Late
To make matters worse, Zach Hyman left the game late in the third period to an apparent shoulder injury in which he went straight to the dressing room after being looked at by trainers on the bench. This is tough news for the Oilers, who are already still without some significant defenseman on the back end. Hyman plays a major role for the team because of his ability to play on the team’s top-six and both special teams units.
The team will await further evaluation and hope for positive news, but all teams need to battle through injuries, and there are several teams in similar situations. If Hyman is absent in their next game, the Oilers will need players to step up and fill key roles with the increased ice time. Expect players like Zack Kassian and Warren Foegele to get opportunities to play extended minutes, while Kyle Turris will likely draw into the lineup if Hyman’s injury leads to an extended absence.
Fight Through Adversity
With the losses continuing to mount for a team that started so strong, the frustrations are also beginning to mount from a fan’s perspective. The fans in Rogers Place at this game voiced their displeasure as the “boos” reigned down as the final buzzer sounded. The Oilers are now 4-6-0 in their last 10 games, still sitting third in the Pacific Division, but teams are starting to close the gap and gain ground on them in the standings. The road does not get any easier for the Oilers as they will host the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs and look to avoid extending their losing streak to six games.
I am a graduate of Seneca Colleges Civil Engineering Technology Program and have turned my obsession for sports into a lifestyle. I have been covering the Edmonton Oilers here on The Hockey Writers since 2019. I love fantasy sports, collecting sports memorabilia and listening to classic rock with a cold one or a coffee in my hand.