by Lisa McRitchie on 02/25/12 at 11:45 PM ET
Oilers lose 3-1 to Coyotes
This was the fourth of five afternoon games for the Edmonton Oilers this season. If the Oilers had their way however, I don’t know that they would agree to so many on the schedule; the team has only had a single afternoon victory. And even that was a close overtime win over the Ottawa Senators.
The Phoenix Coyotes came into Edmonton following a 4-3 victory over the struggling Calgary Flames and riding a four game winning streak. The odds were against the Oilers before the game even began.
What the Oilers did have going for them was the healthy return of head coach Tom Renney and also of rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sitting in the pressbox once again has been the Oilers’ worst defenceman of the season Cam Barker and also Theo Peckham and Ryan Jones. Any of these three players could be on Monday’s trade block, but it may be difficult to move anyone who is not playing.
The Coyotes didn’t waste any time getting on the board as Oliver Ekman-Larsson let a shot go on net from the blue line that would have gone wide, but was re-directed as it bounced off of defenceman Jeff Petry to beat Devan Dubnyk glove side.
From there, things appeared to get worse for the Oilers. Officiating was once again awful, but this time it worked in the Oilers favour. The puck was in theory free, but under Dubnyk’s pads as referee Kelly Sutherland attempted to blow his whistle. Before the whistle could sound, the puck had been pushed into the net. However, things got really bizarre as Sutherland indicated a goal, but the call on the ice was no goal. The play was reviewed and the goal waived off, but the Oilers were certainly not off to their best start.
With 75 seconds left to play, and on only their 6th shot, the Coyotes were up by two thanks to the veteran Ray Whitney beating Dubnyk in what was his weakest allowed goal of the game. Still that would be the game winning goal.
The home team appeared to battle harder in the second, but with little result. Each team had only 7 shots, and no goals.
The Oilers did manage to get on the board in the third period as newly re-signed winger Ales Hemsky fed the puck to returning rookie Nugent-Hopkins. Hopkins beat Mike Smith blocker side and had his team within one.
The goal gave the Oilers new life, but that was quickly extinguished as Coyotes captain Shane Doan fired one off from the hash marks. The puck rang off of the crossbar and over the line once again beating Dubnyk glove side.
With only 2.5 minutes to play and down by two, the Oilers were done.
Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett was happy to see his team win, but seemed to recognize that it could have gone the other way. “It was kind of a mucky game, pucks bouncing all over the place. We probably spent a little bit too much time in our own end, but I thought that we defended very well and we didn’t give up a lot and we got enough to win.”
Players on each side were asked about the afternoon game, and unsurprisingly the older players had a different take than the younger players. Coyote Ray Whitney summed up the game quite well saying “It certainly wasn’t a great game; it was kind of a snoozer. [It was] a two o’clock game I don’t think that either of us were that ready, or that either side was exceptionally good. They were pretty good in the third, but…”
And for Oiler Taylor Hall who is only in his second NHL season, this game wasn’t as big of an adjustment. “I played a lot of 2 o’clock games in junior, so I’m kind of used to it, but you’ve got to have a different mentality. You’ve just got to be an alert on the ice, you’ve got to pick yourself up anyway that you can. You’ve got to make sure that you’re into the game because you’re not used to playing at this time, usually we’re napping when the game’s going on, so it’s just a little bit different. The most ready players are the ones that play the best.”
The coaches and players were right, this game was a bit of a snoozer and the Oilers seemed to struggle against the playoff bound Coyotes. But there were some bright spots. Defenceman Jeff Petry continued to impress and show that he has earned a spot in the NHL. Andy Sutton led his team with 5 hits and 4 blocked shots, and Taylor Hall led his team with his 5 shots.
This may not be the same Oilers team that will face the Winnipeg Jets Monday evening, but we have to expect that the key players will remain. There is no way that the team will trade Hall, Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins and any other big moves are starting to look more and more unlikely.
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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.
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