by Lisa McRitchie on 02/01/12 at 04:00 AM ET
Oilers beat Avalanche 3-2
If nothing else, the Edmonton Oilers seem to want to keep you on your toes. Perhaps it’s a scheme devised to ensure you stay in the room and take in all of the commercials. Either way, while battling to maintain an early lead there were first NHL points, near goals and ultimately an Oilers win in this game.
Devan Dubnyk earned his third consecutive start after a shootout loss to the San Jose sharks last Monday and a shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks last Tuesday. If you can’t remember the last time Dubnyk started three games in a row, don’t worry, neither can he.
This is a game that young Philippe Cornet will never forget however. Cornet was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL entry draft and for many that was the last they had heard of the left winger. But, Cornet signed a three year entry level contract with the Oilers in May of 2010 after his first season in the AHL. There must have been something that made the Oilers stick with him. That the Oilers knew Cornet could or would lead the Barons in goals with 20 in 38 games is highly unlikely, but it has definitely worked out for all involved.
“I wasn’t expecting to have a point in my first game, but I’ll take it for sure” said Cornet following the game, feeling nothing but delight. “For the first game it went fairly well. I’m just going to build on it for the next one.”
Cornet played Monday night in the AHL All Star game, and was told before the game that was a good chance he would receive the call-up to Edmonton because Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has the flu and because Cornet has earned a chance. Cornet said he played the All Star game distracted already thinking ahead to what could be.
It was the first goal of the game, a goal from All Star Jordan Eberle, which set the Oilers on the board and also gave Cornet his first NHL point. Talk about making an impact and starting off of the right foot.
The Oilers second goal was a power play marker, which for the 3rd ranked power play in the league is not much of a surprise. The shocker was that the goal came from Eric Belanger. Yes, the same Belanger that had only one goal on the season prior to this game. The same Eric Belanger that I couldn’t help but wonder why he is playing on the power play, especially since he has struggled offensively. This is only one goal, but Belanger has worked hard to earn it.
The Colorado Avalanche were not without their own strengths and scoring, but it was not until the second period when they were down by two that they seemed to come alive. An early second period goal from Peter Mueller spurred the Avs on to out shoot the Oilers 12-8 but Dubnyk started showing the goaltending that the organization needs to see, and kept his team in the lead.
Taylor Hall would score the Oilers final goal in another gritty front of the net congestion play. It’s good to know that his eye and head must be healing well, and that his competitive edge is undamaged. This team would have been a disaster had they lost Hall for the rest of the season.
The Avalanche are not without their own up and coming talent, after all Gabriel Landeskog drafted second overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. While Landeskog has not scored as many goals as Nugent-Hopkins the gap is closing as Landeskog scored his 11th of the season.
This was a better overall compete from the Oilers, but it may had something to do with the passes from the backend from Ryan Whitney. Whitney is looking far more comfortable on the ice than he did the last time he returned to the ice this season. Whitney is sporting orthotics in his skates, and although he may still be skating with some pain, he looks far better and ultimately the Oilers need him on the ice and not the pressbox.
This is an excellent start to the unofficial final half of the season. The Oilers’ penalty kill was on and so was their power play. The team won 58% of the faceoffs. Goaltending aside from the final goal was solid. If there were any complaints about this game it would be that the team was outshot 33-23, and that the team still lacks scoring from their fourth line. However, Anton Lander had two excellent opportunities to score his third NHL goal. With the steady stream of players travelling to and from Oklahoma City, you have to think that Lander is playing a much more inspired game, doing whatever he can to maintain his position on the Oilers roster.
Former Oiler and current Anaheim Duck Andrew Cogliano scored a natural hat-trick Tuesday night. What may be excruciating for Oilers fans is that Sam Gagner may not score 3 more goals the rest of the season. Currently, he has five.
With any luck Nugent-Hopkins will return for Thursday’s game against the Blackhawks. Cam Barker or Tom Gilbert may also be game day additions.
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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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