Did the Edmonton Oilers deserve a better result than the one they got on Thursdayn night against Stevn Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning? They certainly did but last night's 3-2 loss was a perfect example of a game good teams find a way to win and one that teams like the Oilers find a way to lose.
Edmonton - January 16, 2015 - Despite playing a fairly solid road game against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Edmonton Oilers still found a way to stretch their franchise worst losing streak to fourteen on Thursday evening in Tampa Bay.
While it will go into the record books as nothing more than another one goal loss, this time by a score of 3-2, it was one of those rare occasions in which this group actually deserved a far better fate.
There is no question that Todd Nelson’s squad was the better of the two sides for much of the evening but in the end it was the Lightning who made the most of their opportunities and the Oilers who made the one glaring error on the night. It really was that simple.
Benoit Pouliot continued to carry the load upfront with two more goals, one coming courtesy of Jason Garrison indirectly kicking a puck into his own net, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was an absolute force from start to finish. However down at the other end of the rink, netminder Ben Scrivens played well but was unable to make that one stop when his team needed it most.
While the Oilers starter could not be blamed for any of the Bolts three goals, though he did not exactly play Steven Stamkos’ second period snipe in an overly effective manner, Edmonton had two one goal leads slip through their fingers and this is by no means something new. Whereas Ben Bishop was not only able to keep his team within striking distance but also close the deal when given a lead to work with.
Having said all of that, this game turned on one play and it is one Justin Schultz would likely love to have back. With just over eight minutes to go and having just watched Anton Lander win a huge faceoff in his own end, the former second round pick proceeded to turn an absolute nothing play into a back-breaking goal against.
In what was essentially a blink-of-an-eye, Edmonton went from holding their own to all-out chase mode and they were simply unable to recover. Watching Schultz skate into Oscar Klefbom for no apparent reason and then send a grenade of pass to former Lightning winger Teddy Purcell along the sideboards was frankly unbearable.
Outside of that one massive blunder, it was a fairly even game on the mistake front. Both teams had defenceman do their best pylon-like imitations on goals against, thank you Nikita Nikitin and Anton Stralman, while a couple of lucky bounces led directly to the other two pucks finding their way into the back of the net.
Edmonton had more chances but it was Stamkos who had the best look of all but whiffed on a wide-open net with the game tied at one in period two. After forty minutes, this one had upset special written all over it but as usual, this group found a way to shoot themselves in the foot.
On the bright side, Nail Yakupov played arguably his strongest all-around game in what feels like an eternity and while Garrison had the final touch on Pouliot’s second period power play goal, it marked the fourth time in five games in which the Oilers have lit the lamp on the man advantage. It may not seem like much but at this stage of the season, focusing on anything other than the positive is an exercise not worth doing.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org