Their powerplay gave them a 3-0 lead, but then the Oilers relied on Devan Dubnyk’s 35 saves in the final 40 minutes to preserve the 4-1 victory.
The Oilers played their best first period of the season. They stayed out of the penalty box and applied consistent pressure in the offensive zone at EV strength forcing the Avalanche to take three first-period penalties.
Then their powerplay took over.
Both units moved the puck effectively as Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff gave them a 3-0 lead 9:40 into the 2nd period.
The Oilers sat back a bit near the end of the 2nd, but then they put their recliners all the way back and watched Dubnyk secure the win in the third period.
Dubnyk faced 24 shots in the final 20 minutes, and stopped all but one of them. He was named the third star, but easily could have been the first with his playing in the final two frames.
The Oilers are now 3-2 as they head out on their first multi-game road trip of the season with stops in Phoenix (Wed), San Jose (Thurs) and Saturday afternoon in Denver v. the Avs.
- Teemu Hartikainen played his best game of the season. With no penalties, he was allowed to get into a rhythm and got his legs moving early. He also replaced Ryan Smyth on the 2nd PP unit and was rewarded with his first point of the season on Hemsky’s goal.
- Hartikainen and Paajarvi played very well together using their speed and size to cycle the puck for long periods of time. Krueger was really happy with both of them.
- When your powerplay scores four goals on six chances you don’t have to worry that much about ES scoring. The Oilers were much better five-on-five early in the game, and if they continue to use their speed like they did tonight they will draw a lot of penalties. A red-hot PP will allow them time to get more comfortable five-on-five, but eventually they wil need to start scoring at ES.
- I sense that many fans have decided that Ryan Whitney is the new whipping boy. It’s an Edmonton thing to have one player to rip on no matter what he does, but I thought he played well tonight. He won a few races to pucks late in the Calgary game and tonight I thought he was solid. I noticed him jumping up in the play a bit more and I wonder if he’s starting to feel more comfortable. I didn’t get a chance to ask him after the game, but he was more involved in the play tonight.
- Nail Yakupov gave the puck away on the opening shift of the game and he never seemed to get on track. When the Avs made it 3-1, Yakupov didn’t see the ice for ten minutes as Krueger protected the lead. Krueger said early in training camp that he would shelter Yakupov late in games, especially if he wasn’t having a great offensive night. Krueger did put him out during the last PP and Yakupov scored his 3rd, and easiest, goal of the season. Yakupov will learn that he can’t make fancy plays in the neutral zone, but Krueger plans on using him in tougher situations as the season progresses. With a bonafide first line Krueger has the advantage of protecting Yakupov at times without worrying that his other lines can’t produce offence.
- Sam Gagner picked up two assists and now he has 31 points in 30 career games v. the Avalanche. He loves playing them.
- Shawn Horcoff’s first goal of the season was his 437th point as an Oiler, which moved him past Esa Tikkanen into 8th place on the all-time scoring list. Doug Weight is 7th with 577 points, Ryan Smyth is 6th with 595, Paul Coffey is 5th with 669, Glenn Anderson is 4th with 906, Mark Messier is 3rd with 1034, Jari Kurri sits 2nd with 1043 while Wayne Gretzky is 1st with 1669 in only 696 games.
- The Oilers were much better early in the game, and Colorado didn’t do much until the Oilers stopped pressing. Overall it was a decent performance and a big win, because the Oilers avoided losing consecutive games.