by Lisa McRitchie on 01/24/12 at 04:00 AM ET
Oilers win 2-1 over the Sharks in OT
On paper, this was surely another Oilers loss; they had lost eight of their past nine. But of course those are the games that the Oilers seem to do better with. There is a strong chance that this win may also have had to do with the tongue lashing the team received from head coach Tom Renney on Sunday following the performance Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.
The players knew they had to do better, and Ryan Smyth himself expressed his displeasure with the way his team handled the game. You have to think that a veteran like Smyth would have had words for his team as well as the media.
The Oilers did play a far more disciplined game through their first two periods than anyone would have expected. The Oilers didn’t take a single penalty, and were rewarded with the games only even strength goal. Recent All Star addition Jordan Eberle would break the 0-0 tie 6:50 into the second period with a nifty wrist shot beating Thomas Greiss who was out of position just enough to watch the puck cross the line.
The Oilers would get a power play opportunity, but the Sharks weren’t about to allow the Oilers to take a two goal lead and easily killed Colin White’s holding penalty.
It wasn’t until the third period that the games’ controversial call came. Ales Hemsky was easily heard shouting two expletive words following a knee on knee collision with Sharks’ defenceman Brent Burns. Although the hit did not appear to be intentional or to have much force behind it, Hemsky was assessed a kneeing major and a game misconduct. Burns would not return to the game however, after being assisted off of the ice by the team’s trainer.
With their five minutes of power play time, the Sharks would find the equalizing goal when Logan Couture tipped the puck past Oilers’ netminder Devan Dubnyk. Thankfully for the Oilers, this was the only goal the Oilers would allow.
Through the overtime period, the still goalless Magnus Paajarvi was flying. There is no doubting that Paajarvi has excellent speed and enough size that he can be a more physical presence for the team once he develops more confidence and has more games under his belt.
Although the score was tied through 65 minutes, the shots certainly were not. With Greiss faced a total of 18 shots, Devan Dubnyk stopped 44 of 45 shots. This is the Devan Dubnyk the Oilers need to see more of. After playing less than stellar, Dubnyk has shown that he can still be a difference maker to his team.
Both goaltenders were excellent through the shootout. It took four shooters to conclude the game. For the Oilers, Sam Gagner was the first to score, but Joe Pavelski answered. The game winning shootout goal would come from the injured looking Taylor Hall. Although Hall still sports a swollen face, bandage around his head and a very black eye, he must be seeing well enough to play his game. And for that, the Oilers are lucky are grateful.
Although this still wasn’t the Oilers best game of the season, and there are still improvements that need to be made to this team, this is exactly the kind of response they needed to have after Saturday night’s game.
The true test will be tomorrow night’s game in Vancouver. After a day of fans and media discussing whether or not Tambellini and Renney should have jobs in Edmonton tomorrow, this win may have alleviated some of the frustration and anger felt in the city right now. It will of course not fix anything long term, but wins have a way of making other issues less pressing.
Should the Oilers lose tomorrow night, and we all know that that is where the smart money will go, discussions will once again focus on the Oilers current coaching staff.
For now, this was another showing that the Oilers are still an NHL team, even if they don’t play like it every night. Jeff Petry is indeed proving himself to be one fine defenceman in training. His shot from the point continues to create chances and rebounds just waiting for his teammates to scoop up.
Recent call ups Teemu Hartikainen and Lennart Petrell logged more NHL ice time and threw more hits. Despite Petrell’s demotion to the AHL and only 31 games played in the NHL this season, the forward is still sixth on the team for hits with 50, the same number as defenceman Corey Potter.
Ladislav Smid continues to lead his team in blocked shots and hits, making fans cringe at the memory that he was offered as well as Andrew Cogliano for Dany Heatley.
With only one last game against the Canucks before the All Star break, Ryan Whitney looks to make his return to the line up. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is also said to be very close, but will not be participating in the All Star weekend. And so, it is easy to assume that Nugent-Hopkins will not return to the lineup until next week.
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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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