Edmonton Oilers: 3
Detroit Red Wings: 2
If nothing else, tonight’s game was proof that the Oilers don’t need to play a full 60 minutes to win. I had mixed emotions for most of the game; on the one hand, a loss to Detroit would help grease the rails a little more for Calgary’s slide into ninth, a little bit of schadenfreude to ease the pain of the Oilers’ season. On the other hand, everything I’ve seen from Devan Dubnyk meant I didn’t really want him immortalized in the NHL record books for playing the most games from the start of his career without a win.
So, like Theo Peckham, I was irate when the Oilers let the Wings score with less than 0.5 seconds on the clock. I could see Dubnyk being thwarted yet again, and I wasn’t happy about it. Fortunately, the Oilers hung on through the overtime, and put it away in the shootout after a slick move by Ryan Potulny, a decisive shot from Gilbert Brule, and a final, solid save by Dubnyk to secure the win.
Oilers Three Stars
1. Devan Dubnyk. 31 saves on 33 shots does a fair job of describing Dubnyk’s performance, which was easily his best of the season. He did some strong work in relief of Jeff Deslauriers in Nashville and in Toronto, but this was the first start where he stood out. His rebound control was very good and he played well positionally, stopping numerous shots through traffic. And he won.
2. Andrew Cogliano. I’m still less than thrilled with Cogliano’s defensive game, but he started like a man possessed, scoring a goal and adding an assist as his line (with Penner and Brule) dominated their opposition through the first 10 minutes or so of the game. He’s certainly come alive of late offensively. Also of note was his four-for-seven performance in the faceoff circle.
3. Ryan Whitney. Scored a goal, finished plus-1, and led the Oilers in shots (5) and ice-time (25:47). He’s emerged as the Oilers’ number one defenceman since coming over from Anaheim and I thought he played his best offensive game in an Oilers’ uniform tonight.
Theo Peckham had an up and down night, as young defencemen will. He led the Oilers with six hits, blocked seven shots, and played more than 20:00 on the depleted Oilers blue-line. He was also on the ice for both Detroit goals against and continues to be a work-in-progress. The raw material is undeniably there; I have high hopes for Peckham but there are going to be growing pains.
Why were Jason Strudwick and Taylor Chorney on the ice with 1:30 left in the game? Is there an explanation, other than that Tom Renney has a sick desire to see Dubnyk fail?
Shawn Horcoff’s had a miserable season, but this was one of his worst games. His line was solidly outchanced all evening and the combination of he, Moreau and Pisani is disastrous. All three look like ghosts of their former selves. It’s not a coincidence that every player starts looking better when Penner replaces Moreau on the wing; even on this team I have trouble seeing Moreau as a top-nine forward.
Speaking of which, Gilbert Brule’s a completely different player with Penner than he is without him.
It’s a murderer’s row the rest of the way for the Oilers, who will play the Sharks on Sunday and the Canucks on Tuesday. All 11 of their remaining games come against Western Conference teams, with six of them on the road.