Ilya Mikheyev scored the tiebreaking goal on powerplay in the third period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat short-handed Edmonton 4-2 Wednesday night, giving the Oilers their 11th defeat in 13 games.
John Tavares and TJ Brodie also scored for Toronto, Alexander Kerfoot had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander had two assists to help the Maple Leafs improve to 20-4-1 in their last 25 games. Jack Campbell stopped 28 shots.
Leon Draisaitl and Brendan Perlini scored for Edmonton and Mike Smith had 29 saves. The falling Oilers ended a win-free road trip 0-3-2 to fall to 2-9-2 since a 16-5-0 start.
Edmonton lacked captain Connor McDavid, center-back Derek Ryan and defender Tyson Barrie after all three were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 records. The Oilers were also without top-six striker Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (undisclosed), who has been placed on injured reserve.
The Maple Leafs had Auston Matthews after a COVID-19 scare that kept him out of training on Monday and Tuesday.
Smith, who was out two months with an undisclosed injury, only started his sixth season start after sitting out the last two. That included Monday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, with coach Dave Tippett criticizing goalkeeper Mikko Koskinen’s performance.
Mikheyev scored his third goal of the season – and the third goal in the last two games since returning from a wrist surgery on December 14 – past Smith’s glove with 8:35 left in the third period. It got a 2-2 draw after Oilers defender Slater Koekkoek put the puck right on the striker’s stick after a draw.
The desperate Oilers pulled Smith too late for an extra striker, but Campbell closed the door before Kerfoot scored in the empty net with 15 seconds left.
The nationally televised game was played without the NHL’s reigning MVP and was devoid of atmosphere – apart from canned audience noise – with fans excluded from the Scotiabank Arena due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions in response to the fourth wave of the fast-paced pandemic spread Omicron variant.
Zach Hyman returned to Toronto for the first time since the Maple Leafs after six seasons to sign a $ 38.5 million seven-year contract with Edmonton last summer.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring at 4:25 of the first as Nylander’s shot from the end boards was tipped by Tavares and accidentally kicked into the Edmonton net by Smith. It was Toronto’s captain’s 14th in the campaign as the Oilers surrendered the first goal for an NHL high 24th time this season.
Edmonton equalized it to 9:58 when Colton Sceviour found Perlini ahead in the race for his second.
Draisaitl then gave the Oilaers a 2-1 lead just 1:14 later after sustained pressure from a pass from Kailer Yamamoto to his league-leading 26th place.
However, the Maple Leafs responded with 25.7 seconds left in the period when Brodie’s points shot hit the stick on Oilers defender Evan Bouchard for his third of the season – and third in three games.
NOTES: Matthews and assistant coach Dean Chynoweth both produced positive fast COVID-19 tests Monday morning. Each tested negative on subsequent PCR testing and was approved. … Edmonton striker Zack Kassian left the protocol in time to keep up with Toronto.
Oilers: Hosted Ottawa Monday night.
Maple Leafs: To Colorado to open a four-game road trip,