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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Defense slips against Oilers

Updated March 28, 2023 - 10:58 pm

The truth became clear when Leon Draisaitl danced around Alec Martinez, flung a backhand pass past the outstretched stick of Keegan Kolesar and set up teammate Evander Kane for a tap-in goal.

The Golden Knights couldn’t stop the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. It was a win when they forced the NHL’s No. 1 offense to even slow down.

The Oilers’ high-octane stars dazzled in a 7-4 romp in front of an announced crowd of 18,391. Left wing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recorded five points before the second intermission. Center Connor McDavid finished with three points to close in on his fifth scoring title in eight seasons. Draisaitl, the NHL’s second-leading scorer, added two.

The defensive display was uncharacteristic for the Knights, who tied their season high for goals allowed. It cost them a chance to clinch a playoff spot with eight games left to go.

“We tried to win playing their type of game,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I don’t know if we thought we could outscore them. That’s not how you’re going to beat them. They’re the best offensive team in the league.”

The Knights traded punches with the Oilers for a while. Their stamina just didn’t last as the blows kept coming.

The first period featured one of the most action-packed stretches of the season.

The Knights and Oilers combined for five goals in the game’s first 9:48. Draisaitl finished off the sequence by putting Edmonton up 3-2 with a power-play goal.

The Knights fired back when right wing Michael Amadio tied the game 3:13 into the second. The goal should have energized the group. Instead, it seemed to spark the Oilers.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse gave Edmonton the lead back 2:48 later by firing a one-timer from the left circle past goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kane’s goal extended the advantage, and right wing Zach Hyman stretched the lead to 6-3 by scoring on the power play with 4:26 left in the second.

Defenseman Brett Kulak added Edmonton’s seventh goal after hopping out of the penalty box 4:24 into the third period.

The game marked the second time in six games the Knights gave up seven goals, joining their March 16 loss to Calgary. They didn’t allow more than five goals in any of their first 68 contests.

The Knights’ usual tight defensive structure wasn’t there Tuesday against Edmonton, which kept them from locking up their playoff spot.

The Knights still maintained their two-point lead in the Pacific Division thanks to second-place Los Angeles’ loss in Calgary. The third-place Oilers crept within three points of first with an extra game played.

“It was just a tough game for us, obviously,” said right wing Jonathan Marchessault, who scored two goals in the defeat. “I didn’t like our effort despite (being) down two, three goals and stuff like that. It’s a playoff team. It’s a playoff game for us, and you’ve got to battle to the end.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Quick’s game

Quick was pulled to start the third period after allowing six goals on 34 shots.

The Oilers’ offensive tsunami wasn’t all his fault. He didn’t help stem the tide, either.

Quick has allowed at least three goals in six of his seven starts with the Knights since being acquired March 2. He gave up six goals for the second time Tuesday, after also doing so March 16 against Calgary.

“We just allowed their high-end players to make plays in front of him,” Cassidy said. “I’m not putting it on Jonathan Quick.”

2. Perfect power play

Edmonton became the second team to score three power-play goals in a game against the Knights after Vancouver did so Nov 26. The Oilers only needed three attempts to do so.

Edmonton’s top-ranked unit scored three goals in 2:55 of power-play time. The only blemish Edmonton had on the man advantage was allowing a short-handed goal to center William Karlsson in the first period.

3. Theodore exits early

Defenseman Shea Theodore did not play in the third period for the Knights because of an undisclosed injury.

Theodore has been excellent this season, with 41 points in 54 games. He has 19 points in 23 games since the All-Star break.

Cassidy said Theodore was being evaluated after the game, and the team will have an update Wednesday.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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