The discipline that helped author a road win in Game 3 for the Vegas Golden Knights was nowhere to be found in Game 4.
As a result, the Edmonton Oilers beat Vegas 4-1 and tied their Western Conference semifinal series at 2-all.
Edmonton improved to 4-0 after a loss in the postseason, games in which it’s outscored its opponents, 18-8.
Meanwhile, it was Vegas’ first road loss in the postseason, and its first regulation road loss since a 2-1 setback at Florida on March 7.
A total of 23 penalties were called, including 13 taken by Vegas, which finished with 64 penalty minutes. The Golden Knights finished with 70 penalty minutes in Game 2, also a loss.
Both nights were uncharacteristic for Vegas, which ranked No. 1 during the regular season with just 599 penalty minutes. The Golden Knights currently have a league-high 201 penalty minutes in nine playoff games – including the 134 in their two losses in this series.
And while Edmonton was only successful on 1 of 5 power-play opportunities, it wasn’t how the Golden Knights wanted to play on Wednesday. It was the opposite of what we saw in Game 3, when they were whistled for just three penalties and six penalty minutes while stopping the Oilers on their two power-play opportunities.
Edmonton held the Golden Knights scoreless on four power-play chances. Vegas is now 5 for 31 on the power play in the postseason, a bleak 16.1%.
The Oilers opened a 3-0 lead in the first period as they got goals from Nick Bjugstad, Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm while relocating the offensive groove they’ve thrived within and never looked back.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 4-0 in the second period, and Nicolas Roy got Vegas on the board with a third-period goal to provide the final margin.
“We put ourselves in a bad spot early,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You start chasing the game. Now they’re excited, they’re thinking (they are) going to bounce back, and they get to their game. You dig yourself a big hole, and it showed. It took us a long time to sort of build any momentum.”
After losing Laurent Brossoit in Game 3, the Golden Knights turned to Adin Hill for his playoff start and he stopped 29 of 33 shots on Wednesday.
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a pair of assists and Leon Draisaitl had one after both were held off the scoresheet in Game 3.
Rookie Stuart Skinner made 25 saves for the Oilers.
Tensions are sure to carry into Game 5 after Alex Pietrangelo slashed Leon Draisaitl late in the third period. Seconds after Draisaitl fired the puck at an empty net, Pietrangelo took a whack at his wrist. Soon after, Darnell Nurse and Nic Hague engaged in a heavyweight fight that included flurries of blows from both skaters.
“I would like to see it reviewed and a suspension,” Connor McDavid said. “That was not a hockey play.”
“It’s a bit of what happens in the playoffs,” Cassidy said. “Temperature goes up as the series goes along. It’ll probably go up some more in Game 5.”
If there is one area the Golden Knights had been better than Edmonton, and shown offensive prowess throughout the postseason, it was with their even-strength play. The Oilers did an excellent job of neutralizing Vegas on the whole in Game 4.
The Golden Knights will need to rejuvenate what’s gotten them this far considering the series is headed back to Edmonton for Game 6.
Game 5 is scheduled for 7 pm pacific on Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.