Minnesota Wild: 4
Edmonton Oilers: 2
A one-sided game that ended up with a score that flattered the Oilers; of special interest to me was Kyle Brodziak, who finished with a plus-3 rating (although that might have had something to do with his wingers). The Oilers modest winning streak ends at two.
With the exception of one shift by the fourth line, the early going has been all Wild; the Oilers are making mistakes and turning the puck over, and fortunately for the team Jeff Deslauriers has been very shop. Taylor Chorney had a particularly galling turnover.
Horcoff stole the puck from Martin Havlat, and Ethan Moreau smartly held on to the puck before dumping it in the same area where Pisani was fore-checking. Unfortunately, a good start to the shift went bad when Horcoff tried to poke-check the puck and ended up tripping Mikko Koivu.
Gorgeous chance for Owen Nolan on the power play, but he just missed the top side of the net; Deslauriers was down and out.
Despite some solid chances for the Wild, the Oilers escape unscathed from the penalty kill.
I’m having some difficulty figuring out why the fourth line is out for Edmonton on the shift after the power play. It’s usually a key shift because the top opposition players are all but guaranteed to be off the ice, and some coaches take advantage of the chance to slip out a scoring line. Quinn’s decision to go with the fourth liners surprises me a little.
Marc Pouliot just generated the best Oilers’ chance of the game so far.
Steve Tambellini was praising Sam Gagner in an interview earlier today, and one of the items he noted was how he’s been playing against top lines. I bring this up because while Horcoff & Co have lined up against Koivu, Gagner just took a faceoff against Andrew Ebbett and the Wild fourth line.
High-sticking penalty to Grebeshkov.
The Wild are just snakebit tonight; either that or Jeff Deslauriers has horseshoes in his hockey pads. He’s flopping around all over the place and somehow the puck is staying out.
Gagner’s line just got sent out for a defensive zone draw against Koivu and Co; first time that’s happened in a while and it almost resulted in a Minnesota goal.
I’m watching the lines tonight because while the coaches have been strictly matching the Horcoff line at home I suspect they may go back to rolling lines on the road.
The on-ice microphones are really, really loud tonight. It’s a little disconcerting.
John Scott gets a roughing penalty after a solid fore-check by the fourth line, giving the Oilers their first power play.
A mostly boring power play is interrupted by a lovely shot by Andrew Cogliano that rebounded near Mike Comrie, who was charging the net at full tilt.
Martin Havlat had a solid first, and snuck through both Visnovsky and Chorney to score the game’s first goal. 1-0 Minnesota.
Fernando Pisani with a great, highly persistent fore-check on Brent Burns; I still can’t believe he was a healthy scratch.
Todd Richards got his top line out against the Cogliano line and the Platne/Strudwick pairing; Quinn was able to get Horcoff on for Gagner but was unable to get the other players changed. The result is a good 20-30 seconds of the Oilers being pinned in their own end.
Taylor Chorney gets tripped by Own Nolan, sending the Oilers back to the power play.
Some very solid puck movement doesn’t result in a goal, but Mike Comrie draws another penalty after Marek Zidlicky a) crosschecks Mike Comrie b) from behind c) hard into the boards. 5-on-3 for the Oilers. On a related note, Comrie has had a solid game so far.
The 5-on-3 expires, but Mike Comrie converts on a Sam Gagner pass to tie the game at one. I think the biggest difference between the Oilers’ power play this year and the MacTavish-era unit is that this one is willing to use the low game; they can actually threaten from somewhere other than the points.
Gagner, Penner and Cogliano have really struggled against Owen Nolan’s line tonight.
J-F Jacques takes a slashing penalty in front of his own net (on Havlat); it was a legitimate penalty and one that Jacques really shouldn’t have taken.
Ethan Moreau with a solid play on the penalty kill to clear the zone.
The Wild generated some very good chances but couldn’t convert; the Oilers escape again without allowing a goal.
A Wild defenceman tried to stand Andrew Cogliano up at the blue-line, and Cogliano bowled him right over. I’ll admit I laughed a little.
Ethan Moreau made a nice, simple play to gain the zone with speed, but then neutralized the benefit of it by tossing the puck away.
Owen Nolan with another great chance, and Deslauriers with a better save. The word for the Oilers’ defence tonight is ‘porous’, and they really need to stop it.
Very nice shift for the Brodziak, Latendresse and Havlat line against Potulny, Comrie and O’Sullivan. I haven’t commented on it yet, but I’m very pleased to see Brodziak doing so well. I’ve been pulling for him since the Oilers took him as a late-round over-ager, and I hope dumping him for essentially nothing haunts Tambellini for a long time.
There’s no doubt that Quinn wants his checking line out against the Koivu line. Richards sent his top line out against Gagner for the faceoff and Quinn responded by immediately changing his lines and sending out Horcoff.
Mike Comrie bails out Jason Strudwick as he falls behind the net, carrying the puck away and out into the neutral zone.
2-1 Minnesota on a goal by Miettinen, who Chorney let have all kinds of time and space in front. Deslauriers can’t be blamed for that one.
I’m not sure who scored, but the fourth line jammed the puck in despite being matched against the Koivu line. Pouliot gets credit for the goal, although Moreau and Stortini were in there as well. 2-2.
Pouliot has also had a very solid game; he skated through two Minnesota players, and flipped the puck through the crease to Jacques, who was all alone and had a wide open net. Somehow, Harding kept it out.
Harding hurt himself diving across; Anton Khudobin gets his first NHL time.
Guillaume Latendresse just undressed Jason Strudwick and Jeff Deslauriers to put the Wild ahead 3-2.
Sam Gagner gets a partial breakaway, but Greg Zanon made a brilliant stick check, knocking the puck away before knocking Gagner down. He gets two minutes for tripping, but no penalty shot for the Oilers.
Gong show around the Minnesota net; Ryan Potulny with a dangerous shot and then a bunch of Oilers crashed the crease, but the puck stays out.
Horcoff with a great shot, Khudobin with a better save. He’s been hot early into his NHL career.
Mikko Koivu strips the puck of Gagner’s stick, and it ends up with a nice shot for Miettinen. Very nice save for Deslauriers.
Brutal turnover by Patrick O’Sullivan with Denis Grebeshkov high; Tom Gilbert rushed back to play the 2-on-1 but never got into proper position and Martin Havlat scored on a give-and-go. 4-2 Minnesota.
With a little over a minute left, Quinn is running out Comrie, Penner and Gagner to try and generate some offence. Todd Richards has the Koivu line out to shut them down.
Time-out for the Oilers with 30-ish seconds left. Down two goals, it probably won’t matter.
And it doesn’t matter; the Oilers modest two game winning streak ends.
Oilers Three Stars
1. Marc Pouliot. Great game for Pouliot, who scored one goal and almost setup J.F. Jacques with a second goal. He shows flashes of talent but his goals this season have been effort goals and he’s making a strong case for more minutes.
2. Mike Comrie. Comrie was strong in both ends of the rink tonight, and with the possible exception of Gagner is the Oilers’ cleverest offensive player right now. Right now, he is what cogliano should be.
3. Zack Stortini. The fourth line was the brightest spot for the Oilers tonight, and Stortini was a big part of that success. He also drew a penalty and was right with Pouliot at the side of the net banging away for his goal.