by Lisa Brown on 10/21/11 at 04:40 AM ET
Oilers fall 2-1 to Wild in Shootout
The Edmonton Oilers, for the second time this week have found themselves giving up a one goal lead. The worst part is that they have held that one goal lead through nearly the entire game. On Tuesday the Oilers fell 2-1 to the Flames but not until there were less than five minutes left in that game. Thursday night in Edmonton was much worse. With less than a second left, the Minnesota Wild scored to tie the game 1-1.
Ryan Jones was the Oilers’ lone goal scorer with the assist to Ryan Smyth. This goal scored early in the first period while the Oilers were flying was enough o keep the crowd engaged for a while but soon that wasn’t enough. If it wasn’t for the fact that Danny Heatley was on the ice, and the crowd booed every time he touched the puck I’m sure that everyone around me was sure to fall asleep.
Throughout the game, you were more likely to hear someone talking about what they had for dinner last night, rather than the game transpiring in front of us. This was quite simply yet another boring game with the Oilers relying more on defensive play rather than explosive offense.
The Oilers had a very successful penalty kill, obviously, and needed to improve upon their power play. A single power play goal could have changed the complexion of this game entirely. For whatever reason though, the Oilers have seemed to slow down completely and seem wary of losing their one goal lead rather than hungry to score another one, two or more goals.
As mentioned, Heatley still draws boos from the crowd, which normally is not an issue really. Fans in Edmonton have long memories as Chris Pronger and Mike Comrie can attest to. The real trouble now is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins draws “Nuuuuuge” calls. Of course they both just sound like boo. This doesn’t work well. It was a cruel twist of fate that it would be Heatley himself to tie the game with fractions of a second left in regulation time.
With Sam Gagner nearly ready, or ready to return to the lineup, Anton Lander must have felt the pressure, because tonight was easily one of his best with the Oilers so far. Lander did everything, and well. There were no glaring shortcomings or mistakes and Lander played tough. Also playing tough was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. As Nugent-Hopkins crushed Matt Cullen into the boards, I tried to remember just why people felt that Nugent-Hopkins wasn’t NHL ready, that he wasn’t physically prepared for the game. Now can I say that Nugent-Hopkins is ready to be an Oiler this season?
Nikolai Khabibulin stood between the pipes for the Oilers, and did everything he could to keep his team in the game for the entire 60 minutes, and was less than a second shy of getting the win. Khabibulin’s performance through the overtime period was good as well, the trouble came in the shootout. None of the Oilers’ shooters; Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Eric Belanger were able to get past Wild’s goaltender Backstrom. Unfortunately for the Oilers, the Wild’s second shooter Matt Cullen was able to beat Khabibulin and that was all it took.
There were several positives to take away from this game, as mentioned, the positive play of Lander, Omark had another excellent night after a shaky start to the season. Khabibulin is starting to convince some that he can do better than he did last year. This is of course a wonderful thing since he is signed with the Oilers through next season as well. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has also continued to impress one and all and is changing people’s minds on how easy it is to determine whether or not a player is NHL ready or not.
Jordan Eberle is still looking for his first goal of the season, and came close several times, but of course close is just not good enough. Perhaps Eberle is looking for his opportunity to score another goal of the year. Eberle’s most dramatic attempt looked much like his famous goal, complete with a toe drag, but just could not get past the Wild defencemen.
Recent Oiler additions this summer are also making an impression with Oilers fans. For the second night in a row, Ben Eager didn’t waste time before chirping and on this outing didn’t waste time getting the games only fight started either. Eric Belanger is also proving himself to be a piece that the Oilers were missing. Belanger wins faceoffs and is aiding with the general development of the youth. Ryan Smyth may have been an Oiler before, but he was still an addition this off-season. Smyth has been taking a number of faceoffs, puts himself in front of the net and continues to take the hits that come with that from the opposition players and the pucks. Eventually, Oilers fans hope that Smyth’s presence in front of the net will lead to more Oilers goals before too long.
Several Oilers are battling flu like symptoms, or as many tend to call it, the flu and so lineups for Saturday are yet to be determined. It was announced just before this game that Ryan Keller was not called up after all and remained in Oklahoma City. The Oilers looked at their lineup and determined that they had sufficient bodies to make due.
Next up, the Oilers host the Rangers on Saturday night, and hope to improve on their 2-2-2 record. There will of course be no rematch between Ladislav Smid and Sean Avery, but the game could still be exciting and the Rangers only come through once every two years.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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