Well, that wasn't pretty, but slump-busters often aren't. Coming home with a four-game "losing" streak and just 2 wins in their past 12 starts, Oilers needed to get the jump on a good homestand. Fortunately the schedule-maker delivered a tired opponent coming off a tough win in Calgary. Both teams rested their #1 goalie, and both backups proved why they are backups.
Oilers fell behind 1-0, 2-1, and then 4-2 as Deslauriers couldn't stop a beach ball in the first half of the game. 4 goals on his first 9 shots. The game nearly came apart at that point when Ryan Wilson left his feet and nailed Ethan Moreau with an elbow/stiffarm to the jaw, a situation which resulted in Moreau going to the dressing room with head trauma and Zack Stortini following him in with 17 minutes for instigating. At least there was a response, after the Oil had shown few signs of life to that point. Penalty troubles ensued, but JDD came up very large on an extended 5-on-3 and in fact slammed the door the rest of the way in a very nice display of character under duress.
The Oiler skaters started bringing it after that, and while Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner were all jumping and carrying the mail in a territorial sense, the goals were provided from some long-overdue secondary sources: Gagner, Potulny, O'Sullivan, with Hemsky finally sealing the deal at 6-4 with an empty netter on an assist by JDD of all people. It wasn't an epic comeback of the CBJ type last month, but it was a very nice comeback all the same on a night that many things weren't going well.
While all three of Horpensky played about 22 minutes, the team leader up front was none other than Patrick O'Sullivan with a whopping 23:51. It was one of his strongest games in quite a while. It was good to see him score a goal of any type, let alone a big one like the game winner; and it was nicer still to see him celebrate that goal with some real enthusiasm. Too often the passion has been missing from some of the smurfs especially, but on that sequence the trio of Patio with Reddox and Brule won a number of battles to gain the zone, keep possession, and finally generate the telling shot.
On the blue the pair of Ladi Smid and Lubo Visnovsky had a splendid game, each posting a +3 rating. Not so fortunate was Tom Gilbert, who posted a well-deserved -2 in the first period and spent most of the rest of the night nailed to the bench. His 7:41 TOI ranked 7th on the blue, behind even emergency fill-in Dean Arsene's workmanlike 9:30. Nothing against Gilbert especially (unless he's playing like he was tonight), but I was encouraged to see Pat Quinn assert his authority and punish lack of accountability with a commensurate lack of ice time. I'll expect a much better and more committed effort from Mr. Gilbert on Saturday night.
Hopefully the whole team will follow suit. It's been a month since Oilers have won two in a row, and they need to string a few wins soon.