January 31 2013 12:01AM
For the second time in six games Nail Yakupov came through with a huge goal for the Edmonton Oilers. Last Thursday he tied the game with 4.7 seconds remaining, and tonight he potted the winner from almost the identical spot on the ice and once again he batted the puck out of mid-air.
The kid loves the pressure, and now the Oilers have won two consecutive games for the first time this season.
Yakupov, like most of the Oilers, was average during regulation. The Oilers were fighting the puck all night. Many of them had troubles receiving and giving passes, but they battled through and won.
They won mainly due to Devan Dubnyk's excellent play for the second straight game.
Dubnyk controlled his rebounds, was sound positionally and he seems to be gaining more confidence every game. I don't see Krueger resting him tomorrow in San Jose, and if he plays well there, the Oilers could play him Saturday afternoon in Colorado as well.
- Ryan Smyth played his best game of the season. He was strong on the boards and was instrumental in Lennart Petrell's first goal of the season.
- Petrell was the best skater on the ice for the Oilers. He scored, created some other chances and had some key blocked shots. The Oilers will need him to use his size and continue to go to the net. Solid game.
- Even though they've won two straight, I suspect Krueger might play Mark Fistric against a big San Jose team on Thursday. Corey Potter struggled, and if Krueger was being honest when he said he didn't want guys sitting too long, then it makes a lot of sense to play him tomorrow.
- The Oilers can't afford to lose Shawn Horcoff. Shane Doan hit him in the back late in the game and Horcoff was clearly shaken up on the play. He didn't take another shift, and if he can't play the Oilers likely have to airlift Anton Lander or Chris Vande Velde in from OKC.
- The Doan hit was a cheap shot, but let's not get crazy and start screaming for a suspension. Should have been a penalty, but that's it.
- Sam Gagner had another good game. He looks quicker and stronger than last year. I'm sure the Gagner debates will heat up soon.
- I liked Yakupov's celebration. He stood there and waved his teammates over, and when Hall came close his face lit up. The kid loves scoring, and his teammates love his ability to come through at key times. They will likely juice him about his celebration, but that's what teammates do, but make no mistake teammates love having guys who can step up when the game is on the line.
- The Oilers still had too many giveaways in the neutral zone. They will have to be better tomorrow v. the undefeated Sharks if they hope to stretch their win streak to three games.
- It was a rare off-night for Jordan Eberle in the puck-handling and passing department. It is rare to see him fight pucks like he did tonight. The puck was bouncing all over, and the ice didn't look great, but rarely do you see him miss short passes or over handle the puck. I suspect he'll be much better in San Jose.
- On the first day of training camp I asked Taylor Hall what he worked on the most in the AHL. He said he worked hard at improving his passing. In seven games he has seven assists and one goal. He's not suddenly Adam Oates, but he seems much more comfortable passing.
- Dubnyk has a .944 SV% and 1.8 GAA in the five games outside of the first period v. the Sharks. Add in the 20 minute 1st period v. SJ he drops to .916SV% and 2.74 GAA. He's been very good for 15 of the 16 periods he's played.
- The Coyotes and their fans were complaining that Yakupov's goal shouldn't have counted because it was a hand pass from Ryan Whitney. The replay shows the puck hit Whitney's glove, but he never made any motion or attempt to pass it. Here are two different rules from the NHL rule book. After reading them, it looks like the ref made the correct call.
Rule 67 - Handling Puck
67.1 Handling Puck - A player shall be permitted to stop or “bat” a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the Referee, he has deliberately directed the puck to a teammate in any zone other than the defending zone, in which case the play shall be stopped and a face-off conducted (see Rule 79 – Hand Pass). Play will not be stopped for any hand pass by players in their own defending zone.
Rule 79 - Hand Pass
79.1 Hand Pass - A player shall be permitted to stop or “bat” a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the Referee, he has directed the puck to a teammate.
A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck” under Rule 67 – Handling Puck.