|Oilers look to stop skid vs. visiting Maple Leafs|
Stuck in their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Edmonton Oilers have gone from atop the Pacific Division to just four points above the playoff line in the Western Conference. They'll aim to right the ship when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
"First real bit of adversity that's hit us," Oilers coach Dave Tippett, whose team is 2-5-1 in its past eight games, told reporters earlier this week. "Talked to our leadership group in there to make sure we stay together. This is the first real test for them, so it'll be interesting to see them making sure we keep that room together in there, and we'll see how our leadership does."
The Oilers rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period Thursday at Minnesota before suffering a 6-5 deficit.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both reached the 20-goal plateau, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Oilers from becoming the last NHL team of the season with a three-game skid.
"We've got to dig in here. We're in a bit of a rut," McDavid said. "It starts with the top guys and all the way through the lineup, and we've got to be better.
"We're not panicking here. Every team's gone through it. We're going through it now, and we'll find it."
After the Oilers tied the score at 4-4 in the third period, they allowed goals 1:09 apart.
"We just have to do a better job of shutting it down," Draisaitl said. "We spend so much energy fighting back, and that's a positive that we can do that, but we do it too often and too much."
The Maple Leafs are 2-1 on their four-game trip that concludes Saturday. After wins in St. Louis and Vancouver, they suffered a 4-2 defeat Thursday in Calgary.
Toronto allowed three goals in a 2:30 span early in the third to lose for the first time in regulation this season when leading after two periods.
"We've got the skill. We're a hard team to defend when we have it in our hands. I think that was the message: Stop throwing the puck away, play with calmness," said the Maple Leafs' Mitchell Marner, who had a goal and an assist. "I think as a team, we've got to be way better in these thirds, make sure we have that calmness and make sure we're not throwing pucks away."
Added fellow forward John Tavares, who also had a goal and an assist: "I think giving up one as quick as we did (in the third period), it just seemed we got down on ourselves. We just didn't have a good response after that and didn't execute very well and gave them too much space in the middle of the ice that let them capitalize on those next couple chances."
The Maple Leafs got a 5-on-3 power play in the third period but couldn't convert as Calgary goaltender David Rittich made a glove save on Tavares at 6:24 and Auston Matthews hit the post six seconds later.
"You get that type of opportunity, we have to find a way to capitalize," Tavares said. "I had a great opportunity off (Matthews') shot. We had some chances to get back in it, but obviously we don't want to get to that position in the first place. Starting with myself and the way we started the period, we've got to be better and when we get opportunities, we've got to capitalize."
--Field Level Media