Edmonton Oilers: 3
Vancouver Canucks: 2
At times like this, it’s almost possible to forget how the Oilers’ goaltenders have struggled this year. Devan Dubnyk was out with illness after two strong efforts, and the timing forced the Oilers to turn to an unlikely backup – Nathan Deobald out of CIS. That left Jeff Deslauriers as the starter and he didn’t disappoint, putting in an at times spectacular effort and easily outplaying opponent Roberto Luongo on the other side.
In the end, the goaltending was the difference; the Canucks carried the play but the Oilers snuck away with a close win.
Oilers Three Stars
1. Jeff Deslauriers. Jeff Deslauriers was brilliant, making 31 saves and stymying the Canucks offence – in particular Kyle Wellwood, who he robbed several times, with his best save coming at the side of the net as he stacked his glove over his pad and knocked the puck away. He had a decent night puck-handling and is the biggest reason the Oilers won.
2. Tom Gilbert. A tentative start for Gilbert didn’t set the tone for his game; he scored the Oilers first goal, assisted on Cogliano’s game-winner and along with Ryan Whitney had a very solid night. This tandem has been the Oilers’ most pronounced strength since the trade deadline.
3. Andrew Cogliano. It wasn’t a great game for Cogliano, who was a key contributor to one goal against, but he was active offensively and scored the game winner. On a night where the forwards weren’t all that effective, he was a threat to score all night.
Shawn Horcoff has struggled against the Canucks all season, at least in part because he’s been consistently matched against the Sedins. That happened again tonight, and while there were some good points I thought he had at best a lukewarm game. He also had a bad night on faceoffs, winning four of 12. He’s now at 46.8% on the season, either indicating that he’s completely lost his game or he’s been playing hurt most of the season.
The Oilers have three NHL defencemen at this point; the two named in the three stars and Aaron Johnson. Strudwick and Chorney put in their usual performance (of the Canucks’ 28 even-strength shots, 15 of them came with Strudwick on the ice) while Dean Arsene (up on an emergency recall basis) looked overwhelmed.
While I’m on defencemen, here’s how the ice-time broke down at even-strength:
- Ryan Whitney – 19:07
- Tom Gilbert – 17:21
- Jason Strudwick – 17:20
- Taylor Chorney – 17:15
- Aaron Johnson – 15:31
- Dean Arsene – 14:04
I’d be grumpier about Jason Strudwick’s ice-time if it mattered at this point.
There was a nice to pace to the game, start to finish; in fact, it was so good that I almost didn’t mind watching the Canucks feed.
What did everyone else think?