EDMONTON, Alberta — The Golden Knights ran roughshod through the Pacific Division during November to climb out of their early season hole.
But they opened December with a rare division loss.
Edmonton’s Ryan Spooner capitalized on a turnover in the third period for the go-ahead goal as the Knights ended their three-game road trip with a 2-1 loss at Rogers Place.
The Knights had their five-game win streak snapped and dropped to 7-2-1 against division foes.
“Good hockey game,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “Both teams played pretty well. It was a low-scoring and a tight game, so, we had a chance.”
The game against the Oilers capped a stretch that saw the Knights play eight of 10 against division foes, and they went 6-2 to move into third place in the Pacific behind Calgary and Anaheim.
William Karlsson had the lone goal for the Knights in the second period to tie the game at 1.
Edmonton hardly resembled the team that lost to the Knights 6-3 here on Nov. 18, as it improved to 4-1-1 under new coach Ken Hitchcock.
Mikko Koskinen, who supplanted Cam Talbot as the Oilers’ No. 1 goaltender, outdueled Marc-Andre Fleury and finished with 31 saves to stay unbeaten at home.
The Knights had outscored their opponents 23-8 during their win streak.
Fleury (32 saves) lost for the first time in seven starts.
The Knights slowed Edmonton after a high-flying first period but were unable to escape with a point and finished the road trip 2-1.
Spooner notched the game-winner for his first point since he was traded to Edmonton on Nov. 16.
Cody Eakin turned over the puck behind his own net, and Jujhar Khaira found Spooner alone in the slot at 5:50 of the third to snap the 1-1 tie.
The Knights had a chance to tie the game on a power play with a little more than eight minutes remaining but couldn’t muster much against Koskinen, and the opportunity ended with a holding-the-stick penalty against Colin Miller.
The Knights put Edmonton on its heels early in the first period, as the line of Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith created havoc in the Oilers’ zone.
Edmonton had two shots on goal in the opening 6:11 before McDavid made the Knights pay for a mistake to change the momentum.
Defenseman Nate Schmidt couldn’t control a bouncing puck along the wall in the neutral zone, leaving McDavid 1-on-1 with Brayden McNabb.
It was a mismatch, as McDavid used his speed to blow past McNabb, cut to the middle and beat Fleury up high with a forehand before the Knights goaltender could attempt a poke-check.
“He’s one of those unique players,” McNabb said of the one-on-one versus McDavid. “It’s a fun challenge. When he’s coming down on you, you just try to get your feet going and hopefully he loses the puck.”
The Knights regrouped during the first intermission, though, and tightened up defensively, allowing seven shots on goal.
Alex Tuch made an important defensive play six minutes into second period, diving to knock the puck away from Ty Rattie while the Oilers forward was on a breakaway.
Karlsson then tied the score at 1 with his ninth goal at 12:17 of the second period.
Marchessault’s pass was deflected, but Karlsson stayed with the play and his shot deflected off the skate of Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom before kissing off the post and in.
Despite the loss, Gallant was pleased overall with his team’s play in the three road games.
“It was real good,” he said of the trip. “You hate to lose the last game of your trip, but I thought we played hard. It was an even game, a toss-up game. Both goalies were good. We had some chances when we had the goalie pulled, and Koskinen made a real good save.”
1. Shooting gallery. The Golden Knights led the NHL in fewest shots allowed per game (27.4) entering Saturday, but gave up nearly 70 percent of their average in the first period. Edmonton finished with 18 shots on goal, the most the Knights have allowed in a period. The previous mark was 17 in the second period at Boston on Nov. 11.
2. Still streaking. William Karlsson’s goal in the second period marked the fourth straight game the Knights’ center has scored. His longest streak last season during his 43-goal campaign was five games from Nov. 16 through Nov. 25.
3. Not streaking. Max Pacioretty was held off the scoresheet and saw his seven-game point streak come to an end. Alex Tuch also was scoreless, ending his five-game points streak.