The Edmonton Oilers went 0-for-7 on the powerplay on Monday night, surrendering a shorthanded goal in their 3-1 loss at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. It was the second straight game in which Edmonton’s powerplay unit failed to light the lamp, and also the second straight game in which they were scored on. It should come as no surprise that the Oilers lost both of those contests, and are now 1-3-0 on the season.
“I think we gotta shoot the puck more,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said postgame when asked about the struggles of the unit. “We had some chances, you’ve got to bury some of those chances, but Montreal is doing a good job in front of their net and you’ve got to pay the price to score. We didn’t bury the chances and we didn’t shoot the puck enough.”
The Oilers, who had the league’s best powerplay a season ago, have converted just 11.1% of their chances early this season. Yes, it’s only four games, but the unit is just 2-for-18 to start after nearly setting records a season ago.
The frustration in Tippett’s voice was clear on a night where the powerplay could have helped guide the Oilers to a different result. He was hardly alone in that feeling. Star forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins addressed the issues on the man-advantage postgame.
“I don’t know, we were moving it around pretty well,” Nugent-Hopkins began. “We were getting some good looks, but I think when teams are pressuring you like that and things aren’t clicking, maybe we need to shoot the puck more and get rebounds, create chaos.
“A lot of times when we’re playing road hockey off loose pucks, that’s when we’re at our best. I thought maybe as the game went on and things weren’t clicking for us, maybe we could shoot the puck a bit more and we started to do that.”
Although no longer the focal point of the powerplay, Nugent-Hopkins is still a key piece of the Oilers’ top unit with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. All three of them were quiet on Monday night, both on the powerplay and at five-on-five.
“It’s one of those games that’s frustrating,” Nugent-Hopkins continued. “Powerplay had tons of looks and just couldn’t find one.”
They’ll need to find one, maybe more, on Wednesday night when they visit the 3-1-0 Maple Leafs.