DENVER — It wasn’t pretty.
But, on the bright side, it doesn’t matter.
Like too many Edmonton Oilers games this season, Tuesday in Colorado ended in spectacular disappointment: A 6-2 defeat low-lighted by a stunning four-goal in seven minute collapse.
It was a painful whipping, but with Edmonton officially eliminated from playoff contention a night earlier, at least it came in a game where the results don’t mean a thing.
It’s small consolation, but it’s all they’ve got at this point.
“We didn’t handle their push back in the second period,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock, who thought his team looked emotionally spent after their desperate two month push for a playoff spot came to an end. “I think there are a lot of people burned out from chasing. We looked like a completely burnt team. I look at other teams in the same boat and the same thing is happening to them.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, when the Oilers clawed their way to within five points of Colorado, this had the potential of being a head-to-head battle between two teams fighting for the final spot. But Edmonton played itself out of the picture, leaving only the Avs with something at stake.
And it showed.
“They had a push in the second and we didn’t have an answer for it,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse. “It was a really big game for them and they had more intensity in those last 40 minutes than we did.”
The Oilers started out brilliantly, outshooting Colorado 9-0 out of the gate and taking a 2-0 lead into the intermission on goals from Milan Lucic and a beauty from Nurse.
All in all, a good response after the coffin door shut in Vegas.
But then we saw what happens when a hungry playoff team takes on a team that’s only been to the post-season once in 13 years.
The Avs turned up the pressure and it was all over. In a hurry.
“Obviously they’re a desperate team and need points, but at the same time we didn’t execute,” said defenceman Kris Russell. “We didn’t do what we had to do. We imposed our will in the first period and it kind of switched.”
Big time. Nate MacKinnon scored at 4:56. Tyson Barrie scored at 5:56. Alexander Kerfoot scored at 7:43. And Colin Wilson piled on at 12:04 to cap a vicious stretch in which the Oilers were outshot 22-4.
“We started getting our legs under us and pucks just started going in,” said Wilson.
Incredibly, four goals against in 7:08 is only the third fastest collapse of this Oilers season. They gave up four goals in 7:00 against the Leafs last month and allowed four goals in 2:48 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 5.
Colorado added a couple more to the pile in the third period to make it 9-3 for the home teams on this two-game road trip.
THIS AND THAT
Leon Draisaitl’s quest for 50 is down to three goals and two games. He’s hit a bit of a scorer’s block recently, though. Aside from his hat trick in Edmonton last week he’s only found the net in two of the last 10 games… Backup Anthony Stolarz, who might have been nursing a nagging injury, will get the nod against San Jose after Mikko Koskinen started 24 of the last 25.
With two assists in the first period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has now set personal bests in goals (28), assists (39) and points (67) this season … The first-period goal from Milan Lucic ended a scoring drought of 29 games … Tobias Rieder, meanwhile, has six periods left in which to score his first goal of the season.
Darnell Nurse’s first period goal gave him a career high 40 points on the season, making him the first Oilers defenceman to hit that mark since Sheldon Souray and Tom Gilbert both did it in 2008-09.
“It doesn’t really matter,” said Nurse. “Sure it’s cool to check off a couple of boxes, but only real goal we have is to fight for Cups and we’re not. So it doesn’t really matter what you do personally.”
Hitchcock continued with his late-season line shuffling, moving Ty Rattie from the fourth line to the first and Joseph Gambardella from the second line to the press box. Tobias Rieder, a healthy scratch in Las Vegas, moved to the second line.
On Twitter: @Rob_Tychkowski