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3 takeaways from Edmonton Oilers’ first-ever loss to Seattle Kraken




The Edmonton Oilers made their first visit to Climate Pledge Arena on Friday (Dec. 3) to take on the Seattle Kraken expansion. The historic game delivered something that had never been seen before. It also resulted in something that has been seen a lot. But neither was something the Oilers wanted to see.

Seattle skated away with a 4-3 win, the first time in Krakens’ short franchise history that they’ve defeated a Pacific Division rival. That also made Seattle’s first win against the Oilers, who had defeated the Kraken 5-2 at Rogers Place in the first team meeting earlier this season.

For the 10th time in their last 13 games, the Oilers conceded the first goal, while Seattle’s Yanni Gourde scored off goalkeeper Stuart Skinner, just 49 seconds into the game. Edmonton never held the lead and trailed three times.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Oilers, who still hold one of the best records in the NHL, 16-6-0. Here are some of the hot topics from the post-game chatter:

Oilers can’t keep starting like this

Friday was already the 13the time this season the Oilers have fallen 1-0 behind. That’s tied for sixth in the NHL, and the five teams with more are all at or near the bottom of their respective divisions.

Edmonton is tied for the league lead in conceding the first goal with seven wins. But they have yet to lose when they scored first, 9-0-0. And while the Oilers have often been able to dig their way out of early holes this season, Friday was an example of why it’s often said that if you keep playing with fire, you’ll eventually burn.

Less than six minutes after Gourdes’ goal, Leon Draisaitl scored for Edmonton to equalize: 1-1. The game was tied for 3:57 before ex-Oiler defenseman Adam Larsson scored to restore Seattle’s lead. The Oilers reacted again and Evan Bouchard scored 8:12 in the second period to make it 2-2. The scoreboard lasted even shorter this time, as Colin Blackwell defeated Skinner at 13:06 and Adam Wennberg struck at 15:53, giving Seattle a 4-2 lead. This time, the deficit was too great for the Oilers to overcome. Connor McDavid scored midway through the third period, but Edmonton couldn’t find the equalizer in the closing minutes of the game.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The hockey writers)

Stats perhaps even more telling than the first goal are Edmonton’s record based on the situation by period. After the first period, the Oilers are 9-0-0 on a lead, 7-1-0 on a tie and 0-5-0 on a deficit. After the second period they were 11-0-0 in a lead, 2-1-0 in a tie and 3-5-0 in a deficit.

So far it has been remarkable that a team that opens the scoring after 20 minutes or has a lead of just over 40% of the time has managed to win almost three quarters of its matches. But as Friday showed, if the Oilers continue to chase games, it will eventually catch up to them.

The good and bad of Skinners game

Edmonton coach Dave Tippett made an interesting decision on Friday to start 23-year-old Skinner. Veteran Oilers netless Mikko Koskinen had started the last three games and won them all, with a superb 2.34 goals against average and a 0.929 save percentage over that stretch.

The Oilers’ previous game was Wednesday (December 1) and their next game is Sunday (December 5), so it was no problem to start 33-year-old Koskinen on back-to-back nights, but instead of on The hot one, on the other hand, Tippett chose to nod to Skinner, to let his young goalkeeper, who hadn’t played since Edmontons’ 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Nov. 24, get too rusty.

Related Link: Oilers Duo of Koskinen & Skinner Worry About Smith

Skinner has conceded more than three goals in consecutive games for the first time as an NHL goalkeeper. On Friday, the Edmonton resident gave reasons to believe he has a very bright future, while at the same time showing that there is still a lot of work in progress.

There were probably a few goals that Skinner would like back, most notably Seattle’s fourth, a softie sneaking under his pads as Wennberg put the puck to the net in what appeared to be a pass attempt. But it was the timing that made that goal such a setback, as the Oilers tried to regroup to fall behind again and suddenly found themselves looking at a two-goal deficit.

On the plus side, Sinner made a handful of massive stops in the third period, giving Edmonton a chance right down to the last horn. This isn’t the first time Skinner has reacted strongly after conceding a soft goal, an indication of poise and confidence signaling a very good goalkeeper once he’s fully developed and experienced at the NHL level.

Skinner, who stopped 30 of the 34 shots in Seattle, is now 2-4 this season. Koskinen (12-2) is a lock to get the next start between the pipes for Edmonton.

Nugent-Hopkins hits benchmark stats

To wrap things up on a positive note, veteran Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got an assist on both Draisaitl and Bouchard’s goals. The latter gave the 28-year-old career No. 500 point, as he just finished 10e player in Oilers franchise history to reach that milestone.

The other nine men on that list are five Hall-of-Famers (Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, two future Hall-of-Famers (Draisaitl and McDavid) and two era-defining players (Ryan Smyth and Doug Weight).

Nugent-Hopkins has played all 11 of his NHL seasons with the Oilers, who drafted him first overall in 2011. He has 187 goals and 313 assists in 678 games, including two goals and 20 assists this season.

Edmonton will return to the ice at Rogers Place Sunday at 6 p.m. MST, when they host the Los Angeles Kings to open a six-game homestand.

Brian is a sportswriter and broadcaster from Edmonton. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the 2013-14 Edmonton Oil Kings Memorial Cup championship season.




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