Tonight the Oilers traveled to Calgary to take on their provincial rivals for the second time in as many nights. In the first half of the weekend home and home, the Oilers, thanks to a late goal from Taylor Hall, came away victorious. Tonight Hall was given the night off but fellow sophomore Jordan Eberle lead the way as the Oilers again topped the Flames, this time by a score of 3-0. Yes it's just the preseason and we all know these games don't really mean anything but lets be honest, it's always fun to beat Calgary.
The game got of to a bit of a slow start for both teams. Plenty of missed passes and neutral zone turnovers kept the flow to a minimum throughout most of the first period. The Flames outshot the Oilers by an 8-6 margin but the Oilers did have two good scoring chances in the first period, both the result of Flames turnovers near their blueline. Gilbert Brule and Eberle were the benefactors of these turnovers but neither could beat Henrik Karlsson as they shot high to Karlsson's glove side looking for the games first goal.
In the second period Shawn Horcoff would break the scoreless tie by jumping on a Linus Omark rebound, getting just enough of the puck to get it across the goal line, just out of the reach of Karlsson. While Horcoff gets credit for the goal, it was a heads up play from Omark that made it happen. As Omark came to the blueline he realized he wouldn't be able to carry the puck into the zone so he fired it on net and charged hard for the rebound beating the Flames defender and kicking the puck back on net allowing Horcoff to bang in the rebound. A strong play from Omark who has been taking some heat for his play in the preseason so far.
Ten minutes later Omark would extend the Oilers lead by burying the puck into an open net after getting a great cross ice feed from Eberle. But as good as the pass from Eberle was, it was Taylor Fedun that made the goal happen. After getting the puck at the point from Horcoff, Fedun has his head up and rather than blast away he quickly moves the puck down to Ebelre. Miikka Kiprusoff overplays the puck and Omark is left with a wide open net when Eberle hits him right on the tape. Quick puck movement on the powerplay, it's amazing what it can do.
The Oilers powerplay would strike again before the second period ended, this time as Eberle walked into the slot and wired a shot over Kiprusoff's blocker. The shot, just inside the post, was better than his pass to Omark but it was the play before the shot, again a pass from Fedun that makes the goal happen. Fedun falls after making the pass which takes away from the play somewhat but it's nonetheless a great cross ice pass that he makes very quickly, catching a couple of Flames defenders moving the wrong way and giving Eberle plenty of open ice allowing him to move into the slot for the goal.
The second period is where the Oilers took control of the game but it was also when Devan Dubnyk really earned his keep. Half of Dubnyk's 30 saves came during the second period. When the Flames came on strong late in the third period looking to breakup the shutout, Dubnyk held his ground and kept the Flames off the scoreboard. Dubnyk made a number of tough saves and looked very solid throughout the game, he was certainly deserving of the games first star.
News and notes:
- Corey Potter lead all Oilers with 24:19 of ice time, including a team high 4:38 on the powerplay. Clearly the Oilers wanted to see if Potter could handle that kind of ice time and I think he did very well. He took a hooking penalty in the first period when he stopped moving his feet and got caught a little out of position. But aside from that I felt he played a very strong game.
- A night after playing an excellent game, Teemu Hartikainen fell a bit flat tonight. It goes without saying that playing alongside Philippe Cornet and Ryan O'Marra is a little different than Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but Hartikainen didn't seem to be able to get moving and do what had made him successful just 24 hours earlier. In the third period he did pick his game up a little but I'm still betting that the coaches had hoped for a stronger performance.
- Theo Peckham played for the fourth time in the preseason. Although the Oilers have played five games, the first two were split squad games meaning Peckham has dressed every night. I'm not sure if there is anything that should be read into this but I find it interesting. It's possible the Oilers weren't thrilled with his conditioning and wanted to make sure he was in game shape for the start of the season, or perhaps he's just drawn in more because Whitney is unavailable.
- Speaking of injuries, the Oilers announced tonight through Twitter that Sam Gagner will have an MRI tomorrow to assess the injury he suffered Saturday night when he crashed into the end boards. From Joanne Ireland, the initial report from the medical staff is that there wasn't a break in his ankle which is without a doubt good news.
- And with Barons camp set to open in the morning the Oilers will likely be making more roster cuts tomorrow. Following the game, Joanne Ireland tweeted that there could be as many as eight players cut tomorrow. Get your guesses in now as to who the eight will be.