If you're anything like me then I'm sure that you've, at some point in your life, slept for the better part of twelve hours and still felt tired when you got up so you moved to the couch and slept there for a while rather than doing something productive. After all that sleep there is no good reason why you'd still be tired and can't get out of the house to do something, but for whatever reason you just don't feel like doing much of anything and sleep is a far better option.
In a lot of way that is exactly what the Oilers did tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers, who last played on Saturday night in a losing effort against Calgary, should have been well rested and ready to play tonight and yet they looked lifeless and half asleep for most of the night. Given the lack of jump in the Oilers game it's not surprising they came out on the wrong end of a 5-3 decision. Playing in front of the home town crowd against a bad team this was a very disappointing result.
Despite playing in Calgary the night before it was the Hurricanes who came out with jump early in this game. The Oilers didn't register a shot until almost six minutes of play had expired and if not for some good early work by Devan Dubnyk could have already been behind by a goal or two by this point. After allowing the Oilers a shot on net the Canes got themselves on the scoreboard thanks to Chad LaRose. Sell job aside though, every angle clearly showed this goal being kicked in and as quickly as the goal went on the board it came right back off. When it was announced that the goal had been waived off the fans loudly cheered the call, it was the last applause the referees heard on the night.
Lackluster play aside, it was the Oilers who registered the first goal of the game that counted. After Magnus Paajarvi jammed the puck on Cam Ward from behind the net, Eric Belanger skated into the crease and into Ward's paddle, a rather innocent looking play, but it was enough to knock the puck loose and it eventually trickled in behind Ward. Originally the goal was awarded to Paajarvi but the official scorer later gave the goal to Belanger. The Oilers didn't make it to the intermission with the lead though, thanks to a Jeff Skinner powerplay goal in the final minute of the period.
In the second period the Oilers Saw their lousy play catch up with them as the Canes got goals from Jamie McBain, Patrick Dwyer, and LaRose to take a 4-1 lead. The LaRose goal was a shorthanded marker that beat Dubnyk low to the blocker side; and though Dubnyk was solid most of night, especially early on, this was a shot he should have stopped. The Oilers responded quickly to the shorthanded goal with Ben Eager scoring nine seconds later just after the Canes penalty expired to get the Oilers once again within two.
Any fans with hopes of another five goal third period like we got to see on Friday night against the Blue Jackets likely abandoned all hope of that happening before the four minute mark of the third period when Tuomo Ruutu scored the Canes fifth goal of the game. Skinner had a chance to score his second goal of the night on a penalty shot later in the period after he was taken down by Theo Peckham on a Paul Bunyan-like slash, but couldn't beat Dubnyk. Just prior to the penalty shot Peckham missed on a great scoring chance at a wide open net, a chance created by Ales Hemsky on the only good play Hemsky made all night. Shortly after that Peckham turned the puck over at the blue line, and then took Skinner to the ice on the breakaway - it wasn't his best sequence of the season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored late for the Oilers with just under seven minutes remaining. It was the game's final goal. Much like the Belanger goal, it wasn't pretty but the bounces went the Oilers way and the puck found it's way behind Ward. The final score was 5-3 Carolina, a score that without doubt flatters the home team. Tonight the Oilers had no jump and gave very little effort. Yeah the score was more than a little flattering.
News and Notes:
- Andy Sutton's hit on Alexei Ponikarovsky is going to get Brendan Shanahan's attention. It was called a boarding penalty on the ice and that looks to be the right call to me. As you might recall Sutton was just suspended for five games for a hit on Gabriel Landeskog meaning this could be big, as in another five plus games.
- How bad were the Oilers tonight? By Dennis King's scoring chances the Oilers were outchanced 25-8 overall, including 19-4 at even strength. In the first period the Oilers were outchanced 9-1 and the goal the Oilers scored was so lucky that it didn't even register as a shot. Well rested on home ice those numbers look even uglier.
- The refereeing was suspect tonight as it has been more than a few times this season but that wasn't why the Oilers lost. Look at pretty much every Oiler over the age of 25 if you're looking to lay blame. As a group they were virtually nonexistent tonight. They disappeared quickly after the game as well.
- With his goal tonight Nugent-Hopkins becomes the fastest Oilers rookie to reach 30 points bettering Jason Arnott's record by 10 games. It's a good thing Wayne Gretzky didn't have a rookie season. At least not one that the Oilers count.
- Tonight's win got Kirk Muller his first win as an NHL head coach after taking over a little over a week ago.