Golden Knights trounced in Edmonton by McDavid-less Oilers

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY
The Golden Knights slept walk through Wednesday’s game against the Oilers and were unable to clinch a playoff berth. Instead, they will leave fans sweating out the final home stand.

EDMONTON, Alberta — These guys just can’t give themselves a break. 

With a potential playoff berth in play, the Golden Knights were beat handily, 5-1, by an Edmonton Oilers team that was without three-time Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid.

As a result, the St. Louis Blues were able to regain some life in the race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with their 5-3 win over the Blackhawks. The combination of unfavorable results for Knightspulled the Blues within three points of the defending champions for that final spot. 

The Knights still control their own destiny. They will be in the postseason if they can salvage three of the final eight points left on the table in this regular season. Falling short of that mark would mean missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. 

They certainly haven’t been helped by the amount of games missed by core players. Alex Pietrangelo and Chandler Stephenson couldn’t go on Wednesday, marking another game without their full lineup. 

The accumulated absences felt especially damning this time with an Oilers team on the other side that was able to seamlessly turn to Leon Draisatl and Zach Hyman with their franchise guy out.

While most teams are operating on a “next man up” mantra at this point in the season, the Oilers are in a unique position where it’s “next superstar up”. They showed that on Wednesday, as Hyman and Draisatl each notched a goal and an assist in the win. Ryan McCleod and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had two assists to aide in the onslaught.

As for Bruce Cassidy, he wasn’t sure McDavid’s absence made much of an impact on the final outcome. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys off our roster that aren’t playing (either), so (McDavid being out) to me is irrelevant. He’s a great hockey player, but we’ve got about four or five out that are pretty good in their own right.”

“The lineup is what it is this time of the year. So even if he was playing, I wouldn’t have expected this result to be perfectly honest with you.”

The Oilers struck first just past the midway point of the first period on a goal by Cody Ceci. They piled on quickly in the second, as Mattias Ekholm and Hyman snuck goals by a laboring Adin Hill to push the score to 3-0. 

Hyman’s goal his 53rd of the year, giving the Oilers three different 50-goal scorers in the last three seasons. Again, next superstar up.

One minute after Leon Draisatl scored a goal on a third-period power play — stretching the lead to 4-0 — forward Keegan Kolesar scored a shorthanded goal for the Knight’s only goal. It was just Kolesar’s second career shorty.

Dylan Holloway added a goal for the Oilers in the third period. 

“I thought they did a great job of breaking out. We need to be better on our forecheck to create some anxiety for them, some turnovers to get us some chances,” Cassidy after the game. “To me, that was the difference in the game. They were miles ahead of us in that area.”

The loss concludes the Golden Knights’ regular-season road schedule. The are home for their last four games starting at 7 p.m. Friday against the Minnesota Wild.