Edmonton Oilers: 4
Phoenix Coyotes: 0
That was a refreshing change of pace from the results the last few weeks. Last night the goals went in for the Oilers, and while there were some good chances the other way, Jeff Deslauriers was excellent every time.
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
1. Jeff Deslauriers. Deslauriers pitched his first career shutout by making 36 saves against the Coyotes. He was solid at times, and spectacular at others, and did a lot to ease fears that Nikolai Khabibulin’s absence is going to be devastating to the team. Switch Deslauriers and Bryzgalov last night and the game ends differently.
2. Ales Hemsky. Hemsky was flying at times and had a beautiful sequence with Dustin Penner to score his 100th career goal. He drew a penalty by driving hard at the defence and was one of the Oilers’ better players.
3. Shawn Horcoff. Had a beautiful tip-in goal on a Sheldon Souray shot, just beating the buzzer at the end of the second period (when the play went to review I thought ‘not again’) and made a goal-saving defensive play less than a minute into the game.
That goal-saving play in the first also reflected well on Steve Staios; the puck had popped into the slot and Deslauriers was out of position, but both Staios and Horcoff took Phoenix players angling for shots at the empty net, and both Oilers won out.
The Oilers kept the shots pretty even through two periods, but sat back in the third, something that Pat Quinn noted in his post-game press conference. A four-goal lead is pretty safe, but even so they might have coughed it up if not for Deslauriers’ brilliance.
The Oilers have been on a Kevin Smith kick the last little while, and last night it was funny watching the play-by-play crew run with the marijuana references. That’s something you don’t generally hear during a hockey game. Tyler Dellow has more on the oddities of the Oilers’ current connection to Smith.
Ethan Moreau had a great goal in the first period (it eventually stood as the game-winner) and didn’t take any penalties; a couple of games like that and all will be forgiven.
I didn’t think Lubomir Visnovsky had a great game, but he finished with two points and a plus-2 rating, so it could have been worse, but I wonder if he’s playing through injury right now. He was one of the Oilers best players early, but this is the second or third game in a row where he’s struggled a bit. On a completely unrelated note, he was bouncing side-to-side on his way to the dressing room after the first period, prompting my wife to ask who the penguin was.
One last thing on Deslauriers – a couple of days ago, Copper & Blue’s Ben Massey tossed up a theory that Deslauriers plays better the less people believe in him, which prompted him to make this comment:
So no more will I say that Dominik Hasek is the poor man’s Jeff Deslauriers. Jeff, if you’re reading this, you suck and I hate you and your face is ugly. Now go pitch a shutout.
And I’m done. That wasn’t the best the team has looked, but a win is a win and there’s no sense looking at the negatives after a break from a nasty run. What did everyone else think?