TORONTO — The Edmonton Oilers took the bad with the good Saturday, when they weren’t taking it on the chin.
On a night when they were officially eliminated from the playoffs — if they win their remaining 14 games, they’ll end up with 77 points, one fewer than eighth-place Detroit — they all but clinched one of the top two picks in the NHL entry draft.
A 6-4 loss to the 29th place Toronto Maple Leafs leaves Edmonton with a comfortable nine-point cushion in the draft-lottery turtle derby.
A Leafs power play that had been struggling for weeks scored three times, twice on five-on-threes, to eliminate any chance that Edmonton might climb into 29th and risk drafting third.
Not that anyone was worried about that in the frustration that followed the nationally televised butt-kicking.
“It was disappointing what we got from a few of our guys tonight, they seemed lost in our zone,” said head coach Pat Quinn, whose Toronto homecoming went wrong early, and stayed that way most of the night.
“For 10 minutes we were fine, but I haven’t played in a 10-minute game in a long time. It wasn’t good enough for us. A few guys played hard tonight, but not enough.”
The Oilers were only trailing 2-1 early in the second period, still very much in the contest, but in less time than it takes to boil an egg, they were toast.
It went from 2-1 Toronto to 5-1 Toronto in two minutes and 26 seconds, with the Leafs making it 3-1 on John Mitchell’s goal at 4:24, and then scoring on both sides of a two-man advantage (Phil Kessel at 6:15 and Mikhail Grabovski at 6:50).
“Those are the moments in games where winning teams really step up, those are the defining moments in games,” said Sam Gagner. “It’s still something that we have to find in here. It seems to be a tiny little thing here or there that changes the game. We just have to be better.”
The line of Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule was Edmonton’s best by far, counting for six points in the loss. The line was plus two on the night.
“It’s a small consolation, but I played pretty good in front of my family at home in Toronto,” said Cogliano, who picked up his 100th and 101st NHL points.
“It was a nice feeling. Playing with Pens and Brule, I’m just trying to take the opportunity and run with it.”
For all the talk about securing 30th, the Oilers didn’t look like they had one eye on the lottery. They cut it to 5-3 when it looked like it was over and still had a chance with five minutes to go.
“It’s a bad thing that we gave up the lead, but we don’t want to be known as quitters in here,” said Gagner. “As a group we have a lot of pride. We’re playing for each other in here. These are results we don’t want to be a part of.”
Coming back on the Leafs is definitely doable — they’re 29th for a reason — but too many penalties sealed Edmonton’s fate.
With Edmonton already short-handed, Ethan Moreau took a crosschecking penalty and Toronto scored on the two-man advantage. Game over.
“Definitely not the result we wanted,” said Deslauriers, who gave up five goals on 28 shots before giving way to Devan Dubnyk in the third.
“We maybe played with fire, taking two penalties, that didn’t help us, obviously. We know we have to play a bit more disciplined.”