Markkanen made 27 saves in a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that left the Oilers winless in their last eight games.
“We ran around in our end too much,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We cannot give a team like St. Louis that many chances, especially in their building and especially when we are not getting it done on offense.”
With Markkanen sprawled across the goalmouth in the second period, St. Louis got on the board on rookie Justin Papineau’s first NHL goal.
Markkanen got off the ice on Dallas Drake’s game-winner with 10:33 left in the third period. But as the 27-year-old Finn jumped, Drake’s blast sailed past him.
Pavol Demitra, who set up the Blues’ first two goals, picked up another assist with 74 seconds remaining. He passed from the blue line to the slot, where rookie Eric Boguniecki scored his 16th of the season.
“It was nice to get some things done as the game went along,” Demitra said. “The first half of the game was frustrating. You have to make those chances count, but the light seemed to come on offensively in the third period.”
Sanford was sensational. Recalled from Worcester of the American Hockey Legaue on Tuesday, he made his first appearance with the Blues since October 24. St. Louis has used six goalies this season and reportedly is pursuing Sean Burke of the Phoenix Coyotes with Brent Johnson and Fred Brathwaite struggling.
“He had several quality stops in the first period when we gave up a ton of chances and he kept us in the game,” Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. “Goaltending was a big factor in us winning the game. We are likely to go with him on Saturday (against Minnesota).”
Sanford has won all four games in which he has appeared. His last outing for St. Louis was a period and a half against Edmonton. Sanford made 11 saves in that game, a 2-1 victory.
“He was great in practice, he was great earlier in the year,” Drake said. “Anybody who can play like that is going to spark a hockey club. In the first period, when we got in a bit of trouble, he was there. Sometimes that is all it takes to get some confidence.”
Steve Martins added an empty-netter with 50 seconds left to seal the win as St. Louis ended a three-game losing streak.
The Blues remained two points behind first-place Detroit in the Central Division. St. Louis also is tied with Colorado for fourth place in the Western Conference with 78 points.
“Tonight is done,” Sanford said. “We have to move on to the next game, and that is the way everybody has to look at it.”
The Oilers’ playoff position is more tenuous. With 67 points, Edmonton is just four points in front of Nashville for the final postseason spot in the West.