The Edmonton Oilers couldn’t overcome the NHL’s hottest team, losing 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida on Thursday night.
The Lightning are 26-6-2 since Dec. 1 and have won nine straight games.
The first period was scoreless. It looked like Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson was going to pot an early goal for the Lightning, but he fired a shot off the crossbar despite having an open net.
Patrick Maroon gave Tampa Bay the lead before the second was five minutes old. He nudged a puck from behind the net off Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith’s back and just over the line for his seventh goal of the season.
Oilers defenceman Caleb Jones beat Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy with a wrister from the slot to even it up.
Tampa Bay forward Yanni Gourde came back with a goal on a shorthanded breakaway. It was the second game in a row the Oilers have allowed a shorthanded goal.
“It’s always an issue to give up any goals, whether it’s shorthanded — any goals I don’t like giving up,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after the game.
“Crucial ones at a bad time, those ones are hard to come back against.”
LISTEN BELOW: Dave Tippett
Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl had the best chance to tie the game in the third as he was set up by Jones to the right of the net, but Vasilevskiy got across to make the save.
Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette sealed it with an empty netter in the final minute.
Smith made 34 saves and lost in regulation time for the first time since Dec. 20.
“ was amazing,” Oilers forward Riley Sheahan said. “He made some unbelievable saves. The way he plays the puck and communicates back there helps us a ton.
“He’s a leader for us — he’s a leader in the locker-room. It would’ve been nice to win this one for him.”
“He’s just an ultra-competitive guy — ultra-competitive,” Tippett said. “He wants to win bad. I know everybody talks about his age, but he’s not a 38-year-old, his fitness is incredible.
“He’s playing hard and wants the team to win.”
Draisaitl had an assist for his 90th point of the season.
Edmonton’s Zack Kassian appeared to kick Tampa Bay’s Eric Cernak in the chest while the two were tangled up late in the first period.
Player Safety has already marked the play for discussion. https://t.co/7CDtSXVqsq
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) February 14, 2020
LISTEN BELOW: Alex Chiasson
The Oilers (30-21-6) will visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2019-20 season.
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