TULSA, OK – It was more of the same for the Tulsa Oilers as the rubber match against the Rapid City Rush ended in their second straight home loss as the Rush handed them a 3-2 defeat on Friday night at the BOK Center.
The only difference in this game is that the Oilers actually scored goals.
It appeared that the home team was bent on avenging a 2-0 shutout on Wednesday night when they flew in on attack right off the opening face-off. It took less than 30 seconds for the light to come on and for the massive BOK Center goal horn sound when Darik Angeli slammed home a rebound 28 seconds in to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead early.
They held that lead for almost the entire first period until the Rush, on the power play, pulled even on a goal from Josh MacDonald that slipped under the crossbar behind Tulsa goaltender, Colin Stevens with just over two minutes left in the opening period.
In the second period, a little déjà vu took place, but in reverse. 28 seconds into the second period, Stevens appeared to make a save on a Rush shot from Triston Grant, but instead, the puck appeared to roll off the netminder’s stick and then deflect off defenseman, Dennis Brown, and into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. That would be the lone goal from either team in the entire middle frame.
Jacob Poe netted his first goal as an Oiler at 1:44 of the third period to pull Tulsa even, but a little less than a minute later, the Rush power play struck again to see Zach Tolkinen score his first goal of the season when his shot was redirected by a skate on the way in.
The Oilers made a valiant attempt to pull even and force overtime, but even with a gift of a late boarding penalty to the Rush with 1:37 that allowed for a 6-on-4 power play after Stevens was pulled, it was not meant to be. The buzzer sounded on the second straight loss for the Oilers at home to the same Rapid City squad.
While the Rush enjoyed two power play goals on six attempts, the Oilers once again managed to leave four man advantage attempts unfulfilled. It was also the second game in a row where Tulsa fired more than 35 shots at the opposing team’s net and couldn’t come away with a win.
In his first start, Oilers goalie, Stevens made 24 saves on 27 shots while Adam Morrison picked up his third win of the season (and second straight against the Oilers), saving 36 of 38.
“We did not stand up in the neutral zone,” Oilers coach, Jason Christie said of his team’s play. “They (Rapid City) shoot the puck off the corner that goes in off our goalie, then (Dennis) Brown deflects one in top shelf on ourselves. That is the game right there. That is what we are dealing with right now. We just have to fight through that.
“I thought the whole game we had chances,” Christie said. “The guys battled hard. But on the power play, we are in the slot putting it over the net. We are not in a situation to be picking corners on a power play.”
The Oilers will have a chance to salvage some points this weekend when they take on the Allen Americans on Sunday afternoon. The last time Tulsa took on the two-time defending champions of the ECHL, it resulted in the Oilers defeating the Americans 3-2 back on October 25th.