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.  
  • pan0ramic

    I don’t think we should get too excited, we’re still giving the puck away far too often and we’re stuck at 2 even strength goals over 5 games. That said, it was great to see a solid effort across all 4 lines, even if the grandpas are a bit slow.

  • Eulers

    Quick thoughts:

    – Hartikainen was an absolute beast tonight. Erased a lot of doubts for me. If only his line-mates would pay the price to get into position to receive a pass benefiting from his hard work along the boards.

    – Paajarvi had a good game and a nice play where he drove the play to the net. Still, my new tagline for him is: “the fastest player ever in the NHL to cheat for defence”

    – Hall may not have scored and I could see where some may think he’s not sealing the deal. I disagree: tonight he was clearly stirring the drink, drawing penalties, and pulling players out of position. The goals will come.

    In conclusion, its so pleasing to watch this team succeed, generate many scoring chances, and actually be able to clear their own damn zone. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to cheer for a team that doesn’t suck.

  • Reality Check to the head

    Good to see an Oiler team jump on a team that they are supposed to beat. Col was beat up and did not have any jump until they were out of the game.

    Hall is due for an incredible game. He was all over the ice. Dubes has been very good, besides the SJ game.

    We need more grit in our game, because as the game wore on, Col was taking advantage of our young players.

  • Reality Check to the head

    Good win.

    The Oilers can’t afford to lay off in the third period. It creates bad habits, like having difficulty clearing the puck out of their own zone.

    It is a 60-minute game.

  • I’m OK with this team if they win all the games they should win and some of the ones they shouldn’t. So far we’re 1-1 on games we should win (Calgary -L, Avs – W). San Jose exposed us and at this point I’m good with that. They’re damn big and pretty good as it turns out. We caught Vancouver napping. I seriously doubt we’ll get that chance again.

    For me this season is very important. Almost every game is a race for the playoffs and teams are desperate from the get-go. I want us to make the playoffs, if only to learn what the next level is all about. Personally, I think we have a chance for some post season action. For those of you that say “Cup of nothing” I say you gotta learn what it takes to play for the cup first. That’s step 1.

  • Muji

    Good game.

    Hall and Eberle are so fun to watch. I wouldn’t say that they’re the most exciting duo in the league – there are many good ones (e.g. Sedin-Sedin, Toews-Kane, Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski, Nash-Richards-Gaborik, Perry-Getzlaf, Neal-Malkin, etc.) – but they’re getting there. They make very creative plays at a very high speed. Usually, the only thing missing is the finish.

  • Kodiak

    Easy to whip on Whitney when his play has been so poor. I’d be whipping on any player who is getting paid 5 million a year and looking like he is handling a grenade when he has the puck. His footspeed has always been average. Now its marginal. His ability to see the ice and make the outlet pass remains. His plays a soft game IMO. Not as physical as I would like. But that’s my preference for Dmen. Yes he was alot better last night. The puck did not seem to berate him as it has. Hopefully he will build on last nights game and gain some semblance of his old self sooner than later.

    • Spydyr

      Belanger was horrible I thought. He was a give away machine in the 3rd period; as were many of the Oilers. But he’s a veteran and supposed to know how not to give the puck away in your own end.

  • Citizen David

    Taylor Hall was awesome. He generates chances and draws penalties like nobody else. And even with so few even strength goals for our team this year he’s plus three.

    No real issues with potters play in the game. Although he was on for the goal of course. But Fistric needs to be in the line up.

    • Rob...

      Were my eyes playing tricks on me or did Potter completely miss the check on Parenteau just before he ruined Dubnyk’s shutout? The Sportsnet guys were describing a great hit, but I didn’t see much for contact.

      • Leef O'Golin

        The thing I noticed on the play was Dube being a bit casual when the puck was in his feet. He had a chance to aggressively fall to his knees and take away any chance of it going in but instead he waved at it with his stick just as Parenteau whacked at it. I think this is an ‘experience’ play. A few video sessions with the coach should clear that up. Otherwise, he played great and covered the angles/quick set ups very well. There were a few times the Oilers were spread out too far in the d-zone (achilles heel so far this year?) but Dube read the plays perfectly.

      • Leef O'Golin

        Potter got him behind the net about 15 sec before he scored.

        Team looked good last night. Just need to switch out Petrell for Jones. And Potter for Fistric.

  • northof51

    I watched the game last night on Altitude and the Avs broadcast team (who called games when Sakic and Forsberg were still in their prime) was absolutely drooling over Eberle. They were high on Schultz the Younger too, but I’m pretty sure Peter McNab (scorer of 363 NHL goals) sent Ebs a dozen roses and an invite to dinner after that one!

  • Leef O'Golin

    Disagree with your evaluation of Whitney, he’s approaching “bubble-player” status in my mind. If Potter is going to keep playing like that let’s see Fistric back in there. Hopefully he’s back in for the Sharks game at least. Hartikainen (aka: Hurtin’ Kind) was a monster out there. The light might have clicked on for that guy. That’s what the Oil needs more of.

  • vetinari

    I’ve noticed that RNH, Hall and Eberle finally seem to have enough strength to out-muscle and out-hustle opponents. However, they strike me as a bit too “cute” on 5 on 5 play, and I wonder if it’s because what would work in the AHL doesn’t necessarily work against NHL opponents. If they can just up their timing and cut down on the “high risk” mid-ice passes, they will do some serious damage for years to come.

    As for Hartikainen and Paajarvi, they looked great last night and worked well with Belanger. I like that Krueger tinkers with lines but doesn’t do a full blender every game.

    And Whitney– he needs time to get up to full game shape and game speed and I think that we at least need to cross into mid-February before we can see where he’s at in his recovery. He’s not playing like how he did in the past, but that could be some rust.

    Finally, how about Gagner? After years of being the favorite whipping boy of fans, he’s actually producing when given some skilled wingers to work with.

  • Leef O'Golin

    It’s not personal when I say I’d like to see Whitney in the rotation with Potter and Fistric. It’s simply about who’s most effective. And if it’s given that Ryan “has a new 100%” wouldn’t it help the player to have a periodic rest in a compressed season?

  • Leef O'Golin

    Hey Jason – just a comment regarding yesterday’s post. Smitty did play in the Spengler Cup so really doesn’t have any excuses/8 months of rust. I agree that this tournament isn’t the same as league play but it is high tempo, actual hockey. I agree with you that he does look a step slow and isn’t winning too many battles although I thought he looked better last night. I actually think Horcoff may be the issue – the two of them seem out of sync and aren’t complementing each other’s style at the moment. Smyth and Harte looked better.

    • Jason Gregor

      Not sure how Horcoff makes Smyth a better skater.

      A few games at Spengler Cup is a far cry from pace of NHL. Smyth’s footspeed is the issue, and I’ll give him benefit of the doubt for a few more weeks that is just being idle for 8 months.

      Smyth hasn’t been beating guys on the wall or in front of the net, which has been his calling card for years…I don’t blame his linemates for that…That has always been his forte.

  • A-Mc

    I’ve noticed a few times on the 2nd PP unit this year that Yakupov will be wide open and Whitney will refuse to pass the puck to him; choosing instead to send it to the other side of the ice which is more often congested with players and has a high turn over rate.

    Does Whitney not like Yakupov? Yakupov is THE shooter on that line, and he can’t score if he doesn’t get the puck.

    I’ve noticed this 3-4 times now since the beginning of the year… i hope its not going to develop into a trend.

    • Citizen David

      It’s called ” paying your dues”, and Yukapov has yet to do that. If I were the defense I too would probably go to the guy who you know can handle the pace of the game………and at this time Yukapov has yet to prove this.

      I would like to see Hemsky moved down to play with Smyth and Horcoff, where they have a little chemistry. Hemsky like to carry the puck till he loses it and Horcoff and Smyth are fine with playing with that type of player. Hemsky has shown no chemistry with Yukapov or Gagner so moving him down would be good for the third line.

      Move the beast Harti to the first line and Hall to play with Yaks and Gags……..now that’s the ticket!

      • A-Mc

        If Yak can’t handle the pace of the game, then he shouldn’t be playing, and that’s Krueger’s call, not Whitney’s.

        “Paying your Dues” is a piss poor reason to not pass to someone who is wide open and is staring at a 3/4 open net.

      • yeeps

        I doubt it’s paying yours dues. Whitney just hasn’t been comfortable out there. He shoots left, and making the pass to Yak is across is body, higher risk, and awkward to make. I’d suggest it has infinitely more to do with his confidence and most likely absolutely nothing to do with Yak (or insert any other player on the team at that place on the right half boards). The fact is, the easier and safe play is to keep pushing it down the left side to Hemsky. For whatever reason Whitney has lost confidence or is fumbling the puck or is just over thinking.

        I think Whitney will come around, he looked like Cory Cross the first few games, but as Gregor pointed out, he looked way better in Calgary. And last night was solid, besides the aforementioned second guessing himself and hesitating which really hurts his effectiveness.

        Based on the progress he has made from being Cory Cross’esque to last night I have hope he’ll be in game shape in another 3-4 games. Hope being the key word.

        • yeeps

          Got to it before me. Your right its about which way Whitney shoots. That PP line needs a right handed shot on the point, that can hammer the puck. The few times Yak has gotten the puck in that spot the pass was off and/or in his feet.

      • Dawn

        Paying dues is all well and fine. But scoring goals is the name of the game. When all the D is on the left side watching Hemsky, and you’ve got a sniper cooling his heels on the right, it doesn’t make any sense not to send him the puck once in a while.

        • The part where keeping Hemsky on the second line = dysfunction! Hey I like Hemsky more than Horcoff but Hemsky is a one-dimentional player.

          He does not play a team game ( I like to call him Mr. End-to-End) and this will not help the development of Yukapov. Let him carry the puck all he wants on the third line, mainly because neither Smyth or Horcoff have the skills or legs to do it.

          Hartikinen has paid his dues and creates room for players of which I think Eberle and RNH would benefit from. This would give Gagner and Yukapov a chance to benefit from Hall’s ability to carry the play…….in mind this would give two first lines.

          That is a good option for a coach to have.

  • Citizen David

    This team is going to live and die by its special teams this year. It was nice to see Magnus back doing what he does, driving to the net with speed and drawing penalties. The nordic line, paired with someone who can actually win face-offs was really effective against a team like Colorado, but against bigger grinder team (not that Colorado didn’t have some big guys throwing their weight around), I’m not sure how effective this fourth line is going to be.

    The best thing this team can do in my opinion is score only powerplay goals, score a million, make our powerplay the best in the league by far, then see how many liberties are taken against our stars when other teams know that will translate to goals against.

    I wonder if Fistric draws back in the lineup against Phoenix, as they are a speedier team with a good transition game. I bet Krueger once again favours a speed game that can make outlet passes over the solid defence, and physical presence of Fistric.

  • 2004Z06

    It’s the 5th game folks….Yak is young and still learning the speed of the NHL game as well as where he can/can’t hang onto the puck. Whitney will come around….It is just a little rust. Belanger is playing great as is Horcoff. The only player concerning me is Smitty. He looks disinterested. Hopefully he is just a little rusty but I really don’t think he is happy in his “new role”.

  • A-Mc

    Great game to watch and one that perhaps give us a glimpse into the future:


    – Skill was completely on display and fun to watch. The first line is going to be a tough one to ever bet against.
    – Harski easily had his best game as an Oiler and if he continues to develop that down-low game will become an important support player.
    – You can tell that I am a long-time Oilers fan when I cheered when MPV turned the corner and drove the net on that one drive. Even created a scoring chance.

    Needs work:
    – Yakupov is young and is finding his way. Made some mistakes but I am very excited to watch as he settles in. His ceiling is extremely high IMO.
    – Classic Oilers defensive zone exits (lack there of) when things get tight. Have to give credit to the Avs as they put a ton of pressure on the Oilers in 2nd half.

  • yeeps

    There are different ways to be effective at 5 on 5, and I thought the Oilers did well last night. Their speed and forecheck caused Colorado to take penalties and our PP capitalized! Even if we didn’t score at ES, the PP goals came indirectly off of our effort at ES.

    Also, this is my first post on ON. “Look Mom, I’m part of a fraternity”

  • Spydyr

    First game this year Dubs did not give up a soft goal early. The team gets the early lead and coasts to a win.

    Hope it is the start of a pattern.

    That early weak goals hurts the team.

  • Spydyr

    Great game by Dubnyk. I hope this is a stepping stone moving forward.

    Totally off base here – What’s the problem with the ice at Rexall? Late in periods there is more snow than the local outdoor rink.

  • Spydyr

    You are not going to score 4 PP goals every night. So, the 5/5 play is a real concern at this point. Only 2 goals EV on the season thus far. They need to go to the net alot more. The play tends to die on the side boards or the corners far too often.

  • Spydyr

    Phoenix should be another good test as they are one of those teams that are hard to predict in terms of how other teams should be doing against them.

    I still would like FIstric to draw back in, if not for anything other than calming down the back end a little bit with some steady play. (Nick Schultz looked a little shaky at times).

    I also wonder how this new fourth line does against a team like Phoenix.

    These questions aside, it will be more of the same, struggle at even, dominate on the power play.

  • Citizen David

    This is what the oilers should try this out against Phoenix for even strength goals:

    First line Hall-Gagner-Eberle. Everyone is talking about duos and the duo of Nuge and Ebs but have you been watching Hall and Ebs play together. I’m pretty sure that is a duo we want to stay together. Gagner fit in nicely with them last year when Nuge went down.

    Second line Hartikainen-Nuge-Yakupov. Yakupov never gets the puck in the offensive zone. Nuge would fix this. Setting him up nicely for his hammer of a onetimer and just letting him have the puck on the attack which has been lacking. Harti is to charge the net. Be Tomas Holmstrom.

    Third line Paajarvi-Belanger-Hemsky. Not sure that Hemsky fits here but as i say in all my posts now we should trade him for a d-man. That space could then go to Ryan Jones or maybe a Ben Eager that is on his game (once they are healthy). I liked what I saw from the Belanger Harti Paajarvi line last game.

    Fourth line Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell. This guys are banished for being useless.

    • Eberle, Gagner and Hall are KILLER together. If this season goes south in a hurry for the Oilers I have no doubt they will see some time together. That’s about as loaded a line as we could possibly put together.

  • oilerjed

    @ David
    I like the top two of
    but Belanger is only good on the faceoff dot and shoould be pasted to the fourth line until we find a 2-3 center and can move Horc down(he still skates as hard as ever). With the D we have coming do we really need another D or is there a youngish biggish center we can try and steal away from somewhere?

  • I liked the article, although I’d be inclined to give a little credit to our penalty kill, which went 3/3 and is now 8th in the League. I wanted to respond to a few of your points…

    “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.”

    I’m glad someone else noticed this! To me, the way these two played was one of the brightest spots of the game. They supplied exactly what Edmonton has been needing for years, and both made power-forward-style moves to the front of the net at different points. I want them on the same line for a few games to see what happens!

    “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.”

    You’re right. Early in the season we can afford to let special teams carry us. In the games that matter, refs put their whistles away. When the Lucics and Charas of the league know damn well the ref isn’t going to call it, the problem becomes less that we can’t win and more that each game presents significant risk of injury to our glass cannons!

    Making the playoffs loses a lot of its luster if we are bounced in 4 games and watch our best players leave on stretchers. I’m very glad MacT is involved because I think he is just the man to find and train the toughness this roster needs.