Edmonton Oilers: 4
Carolina Hurricanes: 2
According to both the box score and my eyes, the Oilers won a hockey game. I’m still not convinced it actually happened.
I’m guessing there are roughly a half-dozen other people watching tonight’s Oilers game on TV, so it’s my pleasure to bring the highlights to those of you who aren’t watching it. Tonight, I’m focused on Alex Plante, playing his first NHL game thanks to injuries to Souray, Smid, Staios, Arsene and Peckham.
No Pisani or Potulny tonight; I’m hoping there’s some illness involved because otherwise I’m a little baffled.
The Oilers get an early power play after ex-Oiler Joni Pitkanen threw the puck up over the boards, earning a two-minute delay of game minor. Four forwards on the first power play unit, as O’Sullivan slides back into Souray’s spot.
The power play was short-lived as Dustin Penner took a lazy hooking penalty. A few seconds later, Andrew Alberts scored off the faceoff, and Jeff Deslauriers lets in the first shot he faces. That was very saveable; from the point and without a serious screen.
Gilbert Brule with a gorgeous chance out front, off a nice rush by Patrick O’Sullivan.
Shawn Horcoff goes for the shot on the two-on-one, but Cam Ward closes the five hole quickly, making a very nice save. He was sprung by Taylor Chorney, who made a nice bank pass off the boards.
Big slap shot from inside the Hurricanes zone; fortunately it went wide as Deslauriers looked nervous.
Nothing earth-shattering from Plante so far; a smart, safe pass and a willingness to take his man in front of the net. So far, so good.
Andrew Alberts with a big hit on Ethan Moreau that sent the Oilers’ captain sprawling. Moreau’s playing with Horcoff and Mike Comrie tonight; Comrie doesn’t look to be a bad fit on the line.
J-F Jacques scores on a bad angle shot that Cam Ward really should have had, and assists go to Marc Pouliot and Alex Plante. Pouliot beat Brind’Amour cleanly on the offensive zone draw, Plante fired it on net and after his shot was blocked dumped it to Pouliot behind the net. Pouliot handed the puck off to Jacques, whose shot somehow eluded Ward. 1-1.
I can’t emphasize enough how ugly that goal was; it looked like it bounced in off Ward’s arm as he tried to catch it. Ridiculous.
Zack Stortini just set Jacques up for beauty in the slot, but Jacques couldn’t convert.
Stephane Yelle just ran Deslauriers with no repercussions whatsoever; Mike Comrie gave him a shove and got in his face but there wasn’t much he could do.
They just showed the replay of the Jacques shot (from Stortini), and while I like to pick on him he deserves credit for knocking down a pass that was about a foot in the air and getting a shot on net.
Gilbert Brule scores to make it 2-1 Edmonton off a pass from Andrew Cogliano. This comes after a glorious Carolina chance thanks to some confusion on the parts of Visnovsky and Chorney.
The Horcoff line is buzzing right now; they don’t have a goal yet but they’ve been generating a ton of chances.
A collapse in the Oilers’ zone; Jeff Deslauriers stole the puck from Visnovsky, threw it in the corner which led to some sustained Carolina possession. Visnovsky then returned the favour by giving the puck away right in front of the net but Carolina couldn’t get a strong shot off.
Nice hit by Alex Plante on Brandon Sutter; a moment later he gets beat back to the front of the net by Sutter, but O’Sullivan and Strudwick bail him out.
Shawn Horcoff ends up with a penalty after a long shift of sustained pressure by the Staal line. Horcoff had worked the puck free earlier, but Ethan Moreau gave it away and the Oilers never got it back.
Pouliot skates through three Hurricanes and gets a nice shot in close shorthanded; penalty killing is supposedly a part of his skill set and he looked good at it there.
Good grief. Andrew Cogliano and J-F Jacques are the second forward pairing on the penalty kill; when they clear the zone Jacques smartly changes but Cogliano tries to rag a few more seconds and gets caught on for a long shift.
The Oilers escape unscathed, and despite the personnel employed (Choreny and Strudwick were the second defence pairing) they looked pretty good shutting down the Hurricanes.
Joni Pitkanen’s running scared tonight; he threw the puck over the boards earlier to avoid a hit from Pouliot, and now gets both his stick and his elbow up in Stortini’s face to try and ward off another hit. Not his finest hour.
An ineffective power play comes to its conclusion, sans Dustin Penner. The Oilers get another power play; it’ll be interesting to see if Quinn keeps Penner on the bench.
Holy cow, a Khabibulin sighting! He’s talking about his superstitions, which now include keeping his children from stepping on cracks, lest they break their father’s back (again).
Penner gets out on the power play about half way through, and immediately starts making a difference, generating a dangerous chance in front of the net.
Andrew Cogliano controls the puck along the half boards but does nothing in a variety of ways for about 30 seconds to kill off the remainder of the Oilers’ power play.
Mike Comrie takes a penalty ahead of the play for interference; I don’t think Comrie even saw Gleason coming as he was looking back for the pass. Hard to blame him for that penalty.
Horcoff wins the draw, the Oilers clear the zone, and Horcoff hops off the ice.
Jussi Jokinen comes back the other way, embarrasses Taylor Chorney and then Jeff Deslauriers; either of them could easily have stopped that goal from happening but neither of them did. 2-2.
Tom Gilbert does his best impersonation of a pylon, and gives a nice chance to the opposition. A nice move by Ray Whitney, but there’s no excuse for that play by Gilbert.
Taylor Chorney and Lubomir Visnovsky are not a good defence pairing. In fairness to Visnovsky, Chorney doesn’t help anyone, but they have very similar weaknesses.
Zack Stortini flips the puck to Pouliot behind the net; Pouliot opts for the wraparound and bounces the puck in off the skates of Niclas Wallin. 3-2 Edmonton.
Patrick O’Sullivan makes a lovely pass to Andrew Cogliano, but Cogliano’s stick is lifted.
Gilbert Brule just crunched Brett Carson with a dirty hit; from behind and Carson went head-first into the boards. Brule takes a two minute minor for boarding, but that’s at least the third blatantly dirty hit I’ve seen Brule throw this year.
Ray Whitney evens things up by taking an interference penalty as he runs into Jason Strudwick while trying to stay onside.
Sam Gagner scores on the Oilers’ incredibly short power play; Patrick O’Sullivan set it all up and Gagner bangs in the rebound off of Mike Comrie’s shot. 4-2 Edmonton.
Lubomir Visnovsky goes right after Eric Staal with a little bit of fire.
Brutal giveaway by Stortini; fortunately for the Oilers Tlusty wasn’t able to get a very good shot away.
Alex Plante takes a big hit from Andrew Alberts but draws a penalty in the process, as Alberts gets whistled for interference.
An uneventful power play expires without much in the way of serious pressure from the Oilers.
The Oilers’ fourth line tonight has been Jekyl and Hyde, and they’re pinned in their own end for the entire shift.
Ray Whitney puts a shot off the post; this two goal lead doesn’t feel at all safe and the third period has been entirely in Carolina’s favour.
O’Sullivan takes a hit to pass the puck to Brule; Alberts levelled him and he made a bee-line for the bench.
Dangerous, dangerous chance has Deslauriers gives the puck away behind the net. He’s been downright frightening with his puck-handling tonight.
Taylor Chorney with a lovely pass right up the middle; Joni Pitkanen one-times it but it goes over the net.
Lots of Carolina pressure, but so far the Oilers have weathered the storm. Jeff Deslauriers’ goaltending has improved but his puck-handling has been just brutal.
Patrick O’Sullivan is getting Mike Comrie’s spot on the shutdown line in the final minutes, but has been a very bad fit.
The Oilers sneak away with a 4-2 win, their first win of 2010.
“Maybe they can run the table in February.” Yeah, Rob. Maybe they can do that.
Oilers Three Stars
1. Shawn Horcoff. No points, but a great game holding the Hurricanes top line at bay and the Oilers’ “checking” line generated a lot of chances against Staal & Co.
2. Mike Comrie. I still can’t figure out why Comrie was a scratch in the Oilers’ last game; he had a nice run tonight and didn’t look at all out of place with Horcoff and Moreau.
3. Marc Pouliot. The Oilers fourth line was a mixture of good and bad, with Pouliot recording the fewest yikes! moments and doing some good things on offence. He also did a nice job on the penalty kill.