Edmonton - March 26, 2014 - Despite being soundly beaten by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, it would be rather ridiculous for either the Edmonton Oilers or their fans to be overly disappointed with their effort in what was a 5-2 loss to the Pacific Division leaders.
After hitting what was arguably rock bottom against the Calgary Flames with what was as embarrassing of a performance that anyone has seen in sometime, Dallas Eakins had his team ready to go for this one.
Edmonton was by far and away the better team during the opening twenty minutes and they were rewarded with an early lead courtesy of David Perron’s team leading twenty-sixth goal of the season, which was made possible following a wonderful rush up ice from Taylor Hall.
After being the centre of attention for the last handful of days thanks to his well-publicized confrontation with his head coach during Saturday evening’s debacle, the former first overall pick came out flying and was a threat every time he hit the ice.
Unfortunately for the Oilers and their fans, reality set in over the final forty minutes as the Sharks struggling power play came to life in period two with goals from Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. Within a span of just under ten minutes, a one goal lead turned into a one goal deficit and it all started thanks to what was frankly another dumb penalty from Ryan Smyth in the offensive zone.
Pavelski’s equalizer gave San Jose life and from that point on, this one was no contest. Todd McLellan’s crew started to come in waves after sleeping walking their way through much of the first period but unlike their last visit to Rexall Place, Ben Scrivens would not prove to be much of an obstacle for the Sharks high powered attack. While the twenty-seven year old had the game of his life back on January 29th with an NHL record setting 59 save shutout, on this night, he was unable to come up with the big stop when his team needed it.
Martin Havlat would essentially put this one to bed in the dying seconds of period two, as Scrivens badly misplayed his long ranged blast to make it 3-1. Pavelski would add two more third period goals for what was not only his second hat-trick of the season but it also marked the second consecutive game in which Edmonton had allowed an opposition player to put up a three goal night in their home barn, after the Flames Curtis Glencross pulled off the feat during their 8-1 drubbing of their provincial rival.
Hall would pick up his twenty-fifth of the season in what was essentially garbage time to make it a 5-2 final but his two point night did move the Oilers best player into a tie for eighteenth in league scoring with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews at sixty-seven points.
In the end, the Edmonton Oilers gave it all they had against one of the best teams in the entire National Hockey League and to no one’s surprise, it wasn’t nearly good enough. With eight of their remaining nine games coming against playoff teams that are trying to bank as many points as possible, in hopes of securing themselves a more favourable first round opponent, expecting a different result from any of those games would be foolish.
When you couple last night’s loss with the Florida Panthers 3-2 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Oilers are now three points back of the Panthers for twenty-eighth place in the overall standings. Considering Edmonton will be facing Anaheim, New York, San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles and Vancouver the rest of the way and Florida has a motivated Roberto Luongo playing out the string, moving up the standings is no longer a concern.