Two teams that as of late can't seem to score a goal met up in San Jose. Only one team can win. Who will it be? See what I did there? I bet you were expecting me to say that only one team could lose, but why think like that right? It doesn't help any of us. Really, we as Oilers fans have suffered enough, let's revel in success while we can.
The Sharks were riding a 5 game losing streak, the Oilers a 2 game. The Oilers through 42 games have now won a whopping total of 7 games on the road. Ouch. Why do I travel far to see these guys play this season? That's right, I can't help it, I cheer for this team win or lose just like you do.
The Sharks and the Oilers have both had very disappointing runs leading up to this game, but there are some very significant differences for this team. Did you know that the Shark's second year rookie player, their youngest on the roster is Logan Couture, who is the same age as Sam Gagner. Although Gagner is not the Oilers oldest player, the Oilers have three players who are younger dressed.
The first period saw what was arguably the Oilers' best road period EVER! OK, maybe not ever but certainly this season. What a refreshing change. I didn't even cringe every time Gilbert was standing in front of Dubnyk. No, I had a sense of calm as the game progressed scoreless for the first 15 minutes, then I let my excitement surface as Andrew Cogliano scored a beauty of a goal, top shelf on Antero Niittymaki. Theo Peckham fought Ryane Clowe, the Oilers successfully killed off Ales Hemsky's hooking penalty (the portion that was in the first period that is) but did not manage to score a power play goal. Seeing some physical play was a good sign and it wasn't really surprising that it was Peckham who had a fight. I still don't understand why people out there say the Jacques should stay, and that he is the effective player the Oilers need.
The second period was again all Oilers. Of course I'm going to say that, being an Oilers fan, but you know that is also kinda true. Two goals, both by Oilers. Penner early in the period with a quick one time shot that burst past Nittymaki and Taylor Hall with the goal that had to go to Toronto. Why did they need so long to be reviewed? Who knows really. The officiating in Oilers' games this week has lets just say, been interesting. The puck was not covered up, but apparently the ref had lost sight of the puck after Hall had released his shot and Nittymaki had attempted the save. It doesn't matter what we at home saw, the puck was determined to have completely crossed the line and Taylor Hall tied Dustin Penner once again for a team leading 13th goal of the season.
The Oilers also lead the Sharks in shots in the second. No, seriously the Oilers had 9 while the Sharks had 4. I think Edmonton should throw a parade for that victory of sorts. True the game totals at this point saw the Sharks with 18 while the Oilers had 15, but for one period the Oilers had been successful.
It was nearly mid way through the third period when I started thinking of shut out headlines for this review... I think you know what happened as soon as I did that. I can't help it, it's the 8:30 start on a week night. It makes me weak. Thankfully, Linus Omark made me feel slightly better by scoring with a wrist shot soon after. This goal was nearly the one to snap the Oilers power play goal drought but it wasn't to be. How is it that the Oilers were unable to score during 1:56 of 5 on 3 hockey but as soon as both players are on the ice once again, that is when scoring chances succeed? Chalk it up to another unsolved mystery of the Oilers' season of ups and downs.
Omark continues to show battle and a growing comfort with the NHL game. There are still some things he needs to work on however, as Omark was called for not one, not two, but three penalties with two in very close proximity. The first was for high sticking at the end of the second period and a hooking call early in the third. The third penalty was another high sticking call late in the third. Omark seems to be aware of the game around him, but not the same for the stick in his hands.
Despite Clowe scoring with less than a minute left in the game, this was going to be a victory for the Oilers. Taylor Hall more than secured the win by scoring his second of the night as an empty net goal in the dying seconds of the third period. I'm pretty sure I heard the cheers of elation from Edmonton while in Calgary. Or, maybe there are a few more Oilers fans on my street than I previously thought.
I don't like throwing any player under the bus in a game review as they can all play the game much better than I ever could, but I like to remark when I think that particular players had great games. Sadly no one had a great game in the faceoff circle. This was another night of less than 40% victories, with the Oilers going 20 for 62, 32% for the night. However the three stars for the evening were :
Devan Dubnyk: 41 saves
Ales Hemsky: 4 assists
Taylor Hall: 2 goals and 1 assist
I can't help but agree with those rankings overall. These are some excellent numbers and results from the night. Magnus Paajarvi had some excellent scoring opportunites, Theo Peckham continued his quest to be Don Cherry's favourite defenceman for the year and Dustin Penner was able to get his feet moving and make difference in the game.
Currently the Oilers are 14-21-7, as Copper & Blue faithful Ben Johnston pointed out that is a perfect 2:3:1 ratio. Not a great season, but if the Oilers are going to lose this season at least they are still on pace for a second lottery season, are almost the best at losing, or are making strides in the standings compared to last year. Whatever way you need to look at things, there has to be a positive for you there.
The Oilers were able to come together for the most part for this win and need to win a few more like this to make us, the fans happy. The next game will be against competition who will be tougher to beat. The Los Angeles Kings seem to be a player or two short of a dynamite team. The Oilers need to take confidence enough from this win to make an appearance on Saturday, but not too much so they underestimate the energy they will need to bring to the ice.