Oilers season over after gutting loss against Vegas on home ice

May 15 2023, 4:37 am

The Edmonton Oilers often have a hat-trick scorer on their team, but on Sunday, Jonathan Marchessault’s second-period natural hat-trick pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 Game 6 victory.

Even with arguably the two best players in the NHL, the Oilers season is done before the second round for the seventh time since Connor McDavid’s 2015-16 debut season.

For the Golden Knights, it’s their fourth time to the Western Conference Final since they debuted in 2017-18.

“We kept it simple and played the right way. We know we have to manage the puck between the blue lines, especially against a highly-offensive team like them,” Marchessault told Sportsnet after the second period. “We didn’t force anything there, the plays offensively came naturally.”

After a hectic start, with both teams scoring within the first minute and the Oilers claiming an early lead less than three minutes into the first period, the Golden Knights stepped on the gas in the second period, flipping a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Marchessault’s first brought the game to 2-2 as he pushed the puck into an empty net with Stuart Skinner flailing on the previous save, while the 3-2 goal came on a deflected slap shot from the wing. With 1:24 remaining in the second, he grabbed his third with a clean wrist shot with both teams shorthanded.

While the second period effectively sealed the outcome,  the scoring heated up even before some fans could tune into the game.

The Golden Knights scored three goals within 89 seconds in Game 5, and they brought much of the same vigour to Game 6, opening the scoring just 24 seconds into the game as Reilly Smith jumped on a loose puck in the slot to beat  Skinner over the shoulder.

Connor McDavid brought the Oilers back to a level score in the opening minute as he beat Adin Hill on Edmonton’s first shot. The Oilers grabbed the lead on their next shot, as Derek Ryan found Warren Foegele to take the 2-1 lead 2:43 into the game.

Yet, the lead was the last the Oilers would hold for the night, and the season, with Marchessault vaulting the Golden Knights to another level in the second frame. While Edmonton pulled Skinner for Jack Campbell to start the third, the offence couldn’t muster up enough to save the season.

William Karlsson closed things out with an empty net goal in the final minute of the game.

Campbell finished his frame with 4 saves, while Skinner made 13 through the first 40 minutes. At the other end, Adin Hill finished the night with 38 stops against the high-powered Oilers offence.

In the first playoff battle between the top two picks from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, it was Jack Eichel coming out on top of Connor McDavid, as the former Buffalo Saber will get a chance at the back half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“[Adin Hill] played great, we got some timely scoring, and I thought we just continued to battle through this series. There’s a lot of momentum swings, a lot of ups and downs, and we just stuck to our game,” Eichel said post-game.

“It’s unfortunate it’s taking a minute for me to get here, but I’m happy to be here now. We got an incredible group of guys in the room.”

Since the Toronto Maple Leafs fell out of the second round to the Florida Panthers, many have called for monumental changes in every aspect of the organization. The same calls could come to Edmonton, putting Jay Woodcroft, Ken Holland, or even star players within the balance for offseason moves.

For now, Canada’s Stanley Cup drought will have to wait at least another year, as the  Golden Knights prepare to take on the Seattle Kraken or Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

Ben SteinerBen Steiner

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