Oilers fans deserved a game like this. True, we did see a great game against the Senators on Monday, but this game somehow felt a little more exciting. This was easily the most exciting game next to the opening night splendor way back in October. The toe drag!!!!!! Remember that? Ya, that was a good night. When I volunteered to take this game I told the guys I figured this game would be "Une autre perte tragique pour etre sur" or another tragic loss for sure. Carey Price seems to have found his stride and although both teams are more about the skill and the finesse, les Canadiens have more experience, goals and wins and are currently in the running for a playoff position with 32 points. The Oilers, well 20 points is a different story.
The Oilers looked ALIVE tonight: skating, hitting, shooting, and blocking shots. Ultimately the Oilers were out there playing a good 60 minute (more because of overtime) game. Had the Oilers lost this game, I still would have had more than enough positives to talk about. We weren't the only ones with positive things to say either. It's December, so I had a function to attend after work tonight. A friend of mine was at home and watching his beloved Habs on RDS. I was worried we couldn't be friends during this game, but we managed. Here are some of the things the French-speaking commentators on RDS had to say:
- The pace of the game is really quick, making for a fun-to-watch game.
- The Oilers have a lot of speed and don't play like the last place in the west team.
- The game has a nice flow with minimal stoppages and fancy moves.
- They compared this team to the Oilers dynasty; believing that Kevin Lowe is using his experience from then now.
- Horrible contracts for Khabibulin, Souray and Penner but Horcoff's is the worst.
- It was not a good move to let Roloson go.
- Acquiring Samsonov was not a good move, the draft pick ended up being Lucic.
Other people and teams are noticing what we do and they see some good along with the bad. The comparable size and play of the Habs and the Oilers had some of us wondering if the Oilers would fair better as an Eastern Conference team. Eastern teams tend to be smaller, while Western teams have bigger checking forwards. The Oilers are building around speedy players, full of finesse. How will they manage overall in the west if this trend continues? I think the Oilers would be much more successful playing in the East. I'm not saying they would finish second in the East or anything like that, but I think we would have see a few more wins. In order to be successful in the West, the Oilers will need to add more size and grit or get the guys who have some size to use it on a consistent manner. Cough Penner, cough, cough.
The first period moved quite quickly considering this was a game in Montreal. They seem to have a fairly lengthy ceremony at the beginning of at least every other game. It's just a part of the charm of the Habs. The Oilers found themselves with a good chance on their first power play of the game. Ryan Whitney, still looking for his first goal of the season barely missed, hitting the post. Soon after, Whitney did get his first goal of the season, but it was in his own net on an Oilers penalty kill. We have to be all official-like and recognize that this was a goal by Gomez, as he was the last Canadien to touch the puck.
I think many players look at what Andrew Cogliano lived through recently with three blows to the face and don't want any part of that. Diving for a shot block, Ryan Jones covered his face with his glove. Shortly thereafter, Jones took a high stick in the face from Benoit Pouliot. Thankfully Jones was unharmed and this power play resulted in the Oilers' equalizing goal by Kurtis Foster. What a shot, this is what the Oilers were looking for when they went after Foster in free agency this summer.
The second period saw the Oilers fall behind by two. Approximately eight minutes into the second period, and again on the power play, Montreal's Mathieu Darche scored putting the Canadiens ahead by one. Less than two minutes later (1:59) Roman Hamrilik scored his 600th point and 150th career goal with the first even strength scored goal of the night. In an attempt to slow down the momentum, Tom Renney called a time out and this seemed to help. The kids continued to dazzle, the Oilers were able compete and this is all we have been asking of them.
The Oilers were down 3-1 in the third period until midway through when Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky worked their magic. At first glance it was nearly impossible to tell just who had scored, but thanks to multiple camera angles and instant replay Hemsky added to his goal count for the season. On the other end of the ice, Devan Dubnyk kept this team in the game with some incredible saves. Perhaps it was a little embellished, maybe Tomas Plekanec wasn't injured nearly as much as he seemed, but either way due to a high stick off the face-off with Shawn Horcoff, the Oilers found themselves on another penalty kill. Despite already giving up two power play goals, this time things don't go in the same direction. On an innocent enough looking two on one, Gagner scored his first short handed goal of his career, tying the game. Gagner flattened a rolling puck, faked a pass to Hemsky and beat Price on the short side post over the shoulder. The goal was also made possible by P.K. Subban. Subban's mistakes, ladies and gentlemen, remind us that not only Oilers rookies make mistakes. Tonight's "Who's Your Monster?" with Pierre McGuire and Chris Cuthbert selection was Sam Gagner. I'm sorry, that line killed me at the time. I would have never thought that that selection would happen this year but I also had to agree with them going into overtime.
Ah, extra time, well deserved extra time. The Oilers looked very much in control. From the scoring chances Taylor Hall had to the outstanding saves by Dubnyk, the Oilers were playing for the win. A bad turnover in the neutral zone by Montreal allowed Dustin Penner to take off on a breakaway. With a gentle looking backhand, Penner netted the game winner and Oilers fans rejoiced.
Overall, this was great effort by the team as a whole and a well deserved second win in a row which also ties for the longest winning streak this team has had this season. The first being streak coming during the first two games of the season. Two Oilers had multi point nights; Hemsky had a goal and two assists, Gagner with a goal and an assist. Paajarvi made it onto the score sheet tonight and despite Hall and Eberle being absent from the stats sheet, they were definitely a factor in the game.
There was definitely no struggle whatsoever for me to look for positives in this game. Going forward I imagine Khabibulin will get the start in net against the Toronto Maple Leafs despite Dubnyk's fantastic play and the discussion of the Oilers versus Maple Leafs rebuild will really take off. There will be ups and downs to this rebuilding, growing year. This game tonight my friends, this was an up. Enjoy it, you never know when it will turn into a down.