Player grades: Strong start, weak finish as Oilers fail to hold off hungry Canucks

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Another tale of woe for the faithful at Rogers Place on Friday night, as their Edmonton Oilers coughed up yet another 2-goal lead and lost going away, 5-2, to Vancouver Canucks.


Canucks 5, Oilers 2

Another tale of woe for the faithful at Rogers Place on Friday night, as their Edmonton Oilers coughed up yet another 2-goal lead and lost going away, 5-2, to Vancouver Canucks.

The home side did the right things early, jumping on the Canucks for the first 9 shots on goal, producing an 8-1 advantage in Grade A shots in the opening frame and establishing a 2-0 lead by the buzzer. But rather than build on that strong period, they found themselves on the back foot from the earliest moments of the second period and largely stayed there for the duration. On the night Edmonton held a 33-30 edge in shots on goal, including 15-11 in Grade A shots and 9-8 in 5-alarm opportunities (running count). But they were on the short end of all those categories over the final 40 minutes after dominating the first.

The Oilers enter the Christmas break in a giving mood, having lost their last 2 home games in regulation to 2 of the NHL’s bottom-3 defensive teams, both of them forced by injury and circumstance to use their #3 goaltender. Both losses were marked by defensive mistakes by the hosts, and not enough actual production from their vaunted attack to outscore those mistakes. Their 9-9-1 home record to this point is hugely disappointing, as is the fact they have fallen below the playoff cutline as the season reaches the Christmas break.

Speed grades tonight, as we declare the mercy rule for readers and writer alike heading into the break. My compliments of the season to all Cult of Hockey readers.

Player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 4. Some OK moments on the attack, some not-so-good ones in defence, including some soft coverage on Bo Horvat on the 4-2 goal.

#5 Cody Ceci, 5. Quiet, low-event game, with no goals scored at either end during his 18 minutes of action.

#10 Derek Ryan, 6. Opened the scoring with a nifty move on a breakaway. Took a costly o-zone penalty that led to the 2-2 tally.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. All over the stat sheet with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 takeaways, but nothing to show for it.

#18 Zach Hyman, 6. Made a great pass to McDavid for the 2-0. 8 shot attempts to tie for the team lead, but 3 giveaways and guilty of tunnel vision at times.

#21 Klim Kostin, 4. In what was at times a highly physical game, his 9 hits were more than double those of any other player on either team. Great move and shot early in the third. But among the defensive culprits on the decisive 3-2 and 4-2 tallies.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 3. Led the defence corps in ice time with 22:27. Among those beaten on the game-tying and game-winning goals, both scored from the lip of the crease after Edmonton’s defensive structure collapsed.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. The best of the Oilers blueliners, with 4 shots, 3 blocks, 2 takeaways and a partridge in a pear tree drawn penalty. His highlight moments came in the first period when he made a terrific shot block, then jumped into the counterattack and was sent in on a breakaway, forcing a fine blocker save by Delia.

 #26 Mattias Janmark, 4. A couple of decent passes to set up chances. Made a key mistake on the 2-2 when he blew the zone reading a possible breakaway, in the process leaving the deadly Quinn Hughes free and clear to unleash his deadliness after the Oilers failed to clear the zone.

#27 Brett Kulak, 4. Made a few strong plays including an excellent keep-in that led to the McDavid goal. But was part of the problem with some iffy coverage on each of the first 3 Vancouver goals

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Made a pair of dazzling backhand passes off the spinnarama, the first setting up McDavid’s goal, the second finding #97 for a fantastic powerplay chance. Involved physically, including a spirited exchange of heavy hits with big Luke Schenn. 4 shots, 2 hits, 11/19=58% on the dot.

#37 Warren Foegele, 6. Made a superb stretch pass that sent Ryan in alone for the 1-0. 14 solid minutes, all of them at even strength.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 5. Fine first period shift, firing a dangerous drive from the low slot that produced an even more dangerous rebound chance for Yamamoto, 2 of the better stops all night for the unheralded Collin Delia. But took a very bad penalty early in the second that led to a very dangerous Vancouver powerplay. Played just 3 minutes after that, 7:45 in all.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 6. All around the puck, winning battles and drawing a penalty. Just 1 shot on net but it was a doozy. Made a fine play to clear the zone and send RNH in on a shorthanded breakaway.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 5. Returned to the line-up after a month-long absence, skated OK but looked rusty. Did manage 2 shots and an excellent 6/7=86% on the dot.

#74 Stuart Skinner, 4. A few strong saves, but made a hash of J.T. Miller’s outside wrister which he blockered about 15 feet straight up in the air rather than direct it into the netting or a corner, then was unable to find it until too late. Overplayed a wide shot on the 3-2 and unable to recover. 29 shots, 25 saves, .862 save percentage.

#80 Markus Niemelainen, 5. Low key but mostly solid in nearly 12 minutes of action.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 3. A very tough follow-up to his first-star showing in Dallas. Had a couple of great chances but fired wide on one and made an unconvincing deke on the other. On the ice for the last 4 Vancouver goals, and among the defensive culprits on at least a couple of them.

#97 Connor McDavid, 6. Produced 3 high danger shots including an even-strength tap-in for his 30th of the season, a powerplay one-timer which resulted in Delia’s unlikeliest save of the night, and a shorthanded breakaway that had the superstar barking at the refs after being molested by 2 different Canucks on his drive towards goal. Drew a make-up call on his next shift. Played a team-high 23:43.

Source: EdmontonJournal