Oilers have dropped into a deep hole as Christmas draws near

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OK, this Edmonton Oilers bleeding needs more than some gauze and a couple of Band-Aids.

With the Oilers going two goals down for the fourth straight game, they hung tough against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada’s premier show Saturday, but fell three shots short, dropping their fourth in a row, 4-1 before the first sell-out since game 2 against Los Angeles.

Now, they’re off to Dallas and St. Louis after losing to the Leafs for the seventh straight time.

“We did a lot of good stuff out there but it’s tough to stand there and say that when you lose two points,” said Oilers’ defenceman Oscar Klefbom, who played 28 of the 60 minutes.

“There’s lots of try but we’ve got to find ways to turn the try into better results,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett, whose club would help themselves a whole lot if they weren’t always chasing games.

“Tough losing to a team like Toronto at Rogers … obviously there’s a lot of their fans here,” said Klefbom, after the Oilers dropped their fifth game at home in their last six.

Their league-leading power play, as usual, came through with Alex Chiasson driving the net and tucking one through Freddie Andersen’s pads in the third period — the seventh straight game the Oilers have a PP score — but their continual problem even-strength (32-16 the last 10 games) did them in with all three Leafs’ goals coming five-on-five.

Two of them against the Oilers top line of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian, rubbing a box of salt into the wound.

The killer by their fourth line centre Frederik Gauthier with six minutes left after their 3C Alexander Kerfoot scored with a ripper under the crossbar and set up Ilya Mikheyev earlier for a tap-in when Oilers D-man Darnell Nurse was out-numbered.

While John Tavares and Auston Matthews were quiet, their foot soldiers came through.

“Great to see those guys get rewarded. I thought they were skating really well, they were really connected making quick plays with their speed and their hockey sense makes them really good players and a really good line,” said Tavares.

Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe seconded that emotion.

“We knew we had to do a job against their top guys and I thought our depth would be a factor in the game today and that’s how it worked out,” said Keefe, watching his first-line winger Mitch Marner get the final one into the empty cage.

Again, three of those goals were even-strength, Oilers’ Achilles this year.

“Our five-on-five game really has to be better ,” said Klefbom.

“Last couple of games we’ve graded our (hard) chances around the net well but we have to find ways to score … we’re getting lots of pucks at the net. Have to find results 5-on-5,” said Tippett.

The Leafs needed Andersen, who stopped 36, but they still scored four which means Oilers have given up 20 goals in their last five games. So Oilers who gave up 2.4 goals a game in the first 10, then 3.0 in the next 10, then, 3.5 in the third 10, are up to 4.0 in this segment.

Troublesome, although Mikko Koskinen bounced back strongly from his worst effort against Carolina. Andersen was better but Koskinen was the Oilers’ best player in the loss.

“The one thing we lacked tonight … it felt like every scoring chance was one and done,” said Chiasson. “That’s where our team, when we’re good we get one scoring chance and then we find a way to generate a second one. We get a change and the next line comes in… Those are the little things we’re not doing good enough.”

So, the Oilers are dropped four straight, getting a loser point against Buffalo.

“The margin of error in this league is really small. Our game, it’s not like we’re not showing up. We’re kinda there, but there is that little bit that’s not there, and that’s not good enough. That’s where we’re at right now,” said Chiasson.

OUCH!!!

Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie, playing right side with partner Morgan Rielly, took a Gaetan Haas shot off his ankle early in the first period and immediately went down the tunnel to the dressing room. He didn’t return after five shifts and 2:52 in first frame. He was getting around without a walking boot after the game so maybe it’s only a bad bone bruise.

LET’S TAKE ANOTHER LOOK

They went to video review 13 minutes into the second after the puck dropped under Koskinen’s glove and dribbled into the net but Gauthier had shoved the puck under the raised left goal-post. It took about 10 seconds to confirm no goal which would have made it 3-zip.

CAMERA, LIGHTS, ACTION

After Russian rookie Mikheyev beat Koskinen to make it 2-zip for Leafs five and half minutes into the middle period, there was a stoppage for five minutes to fix a broken camera in the net behind the Oilers goalie. The lens popped off and had to be repaired.

This ’n that: Keefe wasn’t enamoured of Matthews game. He only played him 14:34. Kerfoot played 15:19. Part of that was the Leafs only had one power play of exactly a minute … Oilers GM Ken Holland wasn’t in the building for the Leafs game. He’s over in Moscow watching the Channel One Cup, especially Jesse Puljujarvi, but also some Russian free-agent forwards. As expected Joakim Nygard (undisclosed injury) didn’t play for the Oilers. He was hurt in Minnesota … The Leafs didn’t play former Oilers winger Pontus Aberg … Oilers winger James Neal, skating better after playing with a broken toe for three weeks, bowled over Andersen on a drive to the net late in the first, knocking the Leafs’ goalie onto his backside … Koskinen made a terrific blocker save while sprawling in the first off a Gauthier redirect in the blue paint.

jmatheson@postmedia.com

@nhlbymatty

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