EDMONTON, Alberta — The Golden Knights had the occasional bad shift or lackluster period during their first 16 games. But the one thing they avoided was a complete collapse.
The Knights allowed four goals on special teams and never found their legs in an 8-2 dismantling at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place before an announced gathering of 18,347.
It got so out of hand for the Knights that 19-year-old backup goaltender Dylan Ferguson made his NHL debut and played the final 9:14 of the third period, allowing one goal.
“Right from the start, it wasn’t a good game for us,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “We just didn’t have any energy, any jump. We gambled too much and gave way too many odd-man rushes. We haven’t done that all year.”
Edmonton entered dead last in the NHL in scoring but went 3-for-3 on the power play and also got a short-handed goal from defenseman Oscar Klefbom to open the scoring.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored in the second period, and James Neal added his team-best 10th goal early in the third for the Knights (10-6-1), who have one win in their past seven road games and visit Vancouver at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We just gave them a little too much room and respect and backed off instead of going forward like our game plan is,” defenseman Deryk Engelland said. “We weren’t sharp. We weren’t good. We weren’t playing our game. We weren’t in their faces like we play. A lot of us weren’t ready to go.”
Engelland was part of a weird play early in the third period that summed up the Knights’ evening.
Connor McDavid’s shot from in tight was stopped by Maxime Lagace, but the Oilers’ center threw the puck back in front of the net.
After a brief scramble, Engelland ended up knocking the puck into his own net to put the Knights in a 5-1 hole.
Lagace was slow to get up after the goal, which was credited to McDavid, and eventually was pulled after allowing seven goals on 29 shots. Afterward, Gallant said Lagace was suffering from cramps and is day to day.
McDavid finished with two goals and an assist and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added two goals for the Oilers (7-9-2).
The Knights trailed 4-0 in the second period when Tomas Nosek won a footrace against Yohann Auvitu and hit Bellemare streaking down the slot at 14:41. Bellemare’s goal was his third.
Neal cut the Knights’ deficit to 5-2 when he took a pass from Colin Miller and jammed it past Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot at 1:22 of the third.
“As a coach, you think about those decisions you make and we had two days off the ice and then we had a practice day (Monday),” Gallant said. “You’re trying to rest your team and get them ready. Maybe it was the wrong decision. I don’t know if that was the reason, but we looked flat tonight.”
The Knights struggled in the first period against Toronto and Montreal on their previous road trip and had similar issues against Edmonton, getting outshot 13-5.
Nugent-Hopkins and Patrick Maroon scored 57 seconds apart late in the first to put the Knights in a 3-0 hole.
“Our work ethic wasn’t there,” forward David Perron said. “I thought when we got down 3-0, we had too much cheating going on, trying to get an easy one. I feel like it never goes when that happens. It’s going to go right one time out of five, but the other four times you’re losing the games.”