Edmonton Oilers cannot hold 2-0 lead, fall 5-3 to Dallas in Game 3: Cult of Hockey Player Grades

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Several sharp shifts in momentum in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, ultimately favoring the Stars in a 5-3 victory (EN) Monday night, making it a 2-1 series lead for Dallas…grabbing back home ice advantage.

Edmonton enjoyed a dominant First period with a 10-3 edge in shots and a 2-0 lead after 1 frame. But then the script flipped dramatically, with Dallas laying a licking on the Oilers for much of the Second period. It was quickly 3-2 Stars with the shots 14-0, before the Oilers first shot arrived 12:49 in. An Adam Henrique chip evened it at 3 late in the frame, giving the home town fans hope.

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Alas, a soft goal on soft coverage opened up a 4-3 Dallas lead in the Third, which they stretched to 5-3 with an empty netter from distance.

Make the final 5-3, and the series 2-1 Stars.

Here is the tale of the tape…

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

STUART SKINNER. 4. A quiet First Period for Skinner save for standing his ground on a hard Dadonov net drive and covering the rebound. But Dallas came hard and often in the Second, beating Skinner 3 times. No goal would be classed as “on Skinner,” but even if he had been able to get his glove on one of those pin-balling rebounds it would have helped. Made a massive save on the Marchment breakaway or it would have been 4-2. Also stopped Pavelski late in the Second. Then absolutely stoned Duchene on a Third Period breakaway. Bu then lost his post on the 4-3 for the Robertson hat trick. Sorry…but you have to have that one. Stopped 17-21.

CONNOR McDAVID. 7. Came out flying. Fired a shot-pass at the net from the faceoff circle, hitting Hyman and deflecting in for the1-0. Drew an early PP. Went to the net where an Ekholm shot deflected off 97 and in as McDavid won a positional battle with Seguin. That made it 2-0…and gave McDavid his 100th Stanley Cup Playoff point. Just missed making it 3-0 off a neat pass by Nugent-Hopkins. It was his man (Robertson) who fired home the 2-1. Best chance of the second was a wrist shot that Oettinger found with his blocker. 6 shots.

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RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. A gaping net part-way through the second but could not drain it. Neat pass to McDavid net-side but 97 just missed. Blew a wheel at the blueline then could not get back in time to prevent the 2-2. Nearly stuffed it in short side on the 4v4.

ZACH HYMAN. 8. “Chested” home the 1-0 by going to the blue paint and presenting himself as a target for McDavid’s pass. Then, his one-man cycle eventually led to the 2-0. And yet another possession play led to a near-miss by my McDavid net-side. One of the Oilers best on this night. Led the team with 7 shots. 5v5 CF 21-12, 64%.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 6. Some good, some not-so-good. Smart high-to-low pass to McDavid on the 1-0, instead of trying to force a shot through a pair of Stars defenders up top. Lost a puck battle on the 2-1. Loses his check in front on the 2-2. Zone entry on the 3-3.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. 5. A give-and-go with McDavid allowing Ekholm to circle the net and then fire a puck into the crowd in front on the 2-0. Could not corral the puck deep in his own zone on the 2-1. Chasing on the 2-2.

LEON DRAISAITL. 5. Hard one-timer on the first PP but the Dallas goalie was equal to the challenge. Tossed Benn to his pants in a hard defensive play behind the Edmonton net. A terrific pass on the PP gave McDavid a point-blank chance but the goalie got his blocker on it. A dangerous 4v4 rush early in the second ended with a spin-o-rama attempt. Dropped a pass to Desharnais who rang the post. Unlucky bounce off his skate in his own zone ahead of the 4-3. 3 shots, 2 hits. 41% on draws. -2 (EN).

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DYLAN HOLLOWAY. 5. Hard third period backcheck. On the ice for the 4-3. Led the club in hits with 6. 2 shots.

EVANDER KANE. 6. No assist but gained the Dallas zone on a 1-on-3 situation leading up to the 1-0. Hard early hit on Heiskanen. Another good chance net-side in the second. Hustled hard to eliminate an icing call in the third. 5 hits.

DARNELL NURSE. 3. A glorious chance in front late in the first but his backhand hit the Dallas goalie in the chest. A puck hit him right in the crease, the only thing that stopped it from going to the open net. Seemed to be mostly watching on the 3-2. Dumped Seguin with a heavy check late in the Second. Played “pass” all the way on the 4-3 goal and in the process allowed Robertson an easy lane to the net. Then, with his club pressing for the tying goal in the final minutes, Nurse took a neutral zone tripping penalty. They killed it off, but it cost them two minutes of offensive opportunity. High Dangers 1-4.

VINCENT DESHARNAIS. 3. Rough night. Beat wide with a hard net-drive by Dadonov. Smart play at the attacking blueline to prevent a developing Dallas odd-man rush. His giveaway with the puck fully under his control led directly to the 3-2. Fired one off the post in the third. High Dangers 5v5 0-2.

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ADAM HENRIQUE. 6. First game in 17 days and a scored the critical 3-3 goal at the end of a Period the Oilers had been utterly dominated in. A shot and 4 hits. Lost the shot shares battle, but an otherwise smart game with a dozen smart little plays all over the ice.

WARREN FOEGELE. 5. Thumped Heiskanen but good in the first. His hard forecheck helped create the 3-3. 2 shots, 5 hits.

CONNOR BROWN. 6. Just a slick pass in front to Henrique for a sweet tip and the critical 3-3 goal late in the Second. Gets an O-zone faceoff at the end of the third period PK.

BRETT KULAK. 6. Angled off Wyatt Johnson on a dangerous looking sortie in the first. High Dangers 2-0 5v5. 70% CF.

CODY CECI. 5. An excellent stick disrupted a developing Dallas 3-on-1 in the second. Unlucky puck bounce on the 4-3.

SAM CARRICK. 6. Good opening frame opportunity from the slot but his shot was blocked. Helped create the Nurse chance late in the opening period. His forecheck helped force the puck-over-glass penalty late in the First. 86% on draws. Led team in 5v5 CF (12-5, 71%). Making a strong case to stay in the lineup.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 6. Busted his hump to beat out an icing call in the first, then part of the sequence that created a great chance by Nurse in front. Forced a faceoff in the Dallas end on the PK in the third. Effective.

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DEREK RYAN. 5. Nice set-up for Carrick in the first but the shot was blocked. Could not intercept the pass in front on the 3-2. Smart clear on the third period PK. 69% CF.

Game 4 is Wednesday in Edmonton.

Find me on Threads @kleavins, on Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, Mastodon at [email protected], and X @KurtLeavins. AI was not used in the composition of this article.

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