Oilers Beat Preds 3-2, Saved By Special Teams

#Ismental - Bruce Bennett

The Oilers were asleep for most of this one, lulled into a daze by the Preds traffic jam in the neutral zone.

A win is a win, but sometimes, they're uneasy and other times undeserved. The Oilers got just 21 pucks on the net, 17 at even strength, kicking things off with 6 shots in the first period and wrapping things up with 5 in the third. Luckily, 2 of the 5 in the third went in and the Oilers escaped with another win thanks to goals from the power play and penalty kill.

Oh man. And just for good measure:

Possession Report via Boys on the Bus

The Good

The Oilers are 3-1 since Shawn Horcoff came back from injury. Not including the Canucks game he was unable to finish because of the broken knuckle, the Oilers are 7-3 with Horcoff in the lineup and 4-14 without Horcoff. Still think he's the primary amnesty buyout candidate?

Mike Brown played just 1:26 in the third period. While it's still too much overall, as long as he's in the lineup, limiting his minutes and keeping him away from the ice in the third period is the proper way to manage his ice time.

"Left him hung out to dry" is an overused cliche in hockey, but the Oilers went one beyond that with Devan Dubnyk tonight. Dubnyk was left for dead at times and hung on to get a win. He stopped all 22 even strength shots the Preds took, surrendering goals against the power play and in a 6-on-5.

Jordan Eberle scored for the first time in 11 games - hopefully it's the start of his run back towards 13%

Sam Gagner picked up a short-handed assist on the Lennart Petrell / Sergei Kostitsyn goal on another odd-man rush. Gagner's numbers as a penalty kill aren't as strong as they once were, but he's by far the Oilers' best penalty killing forward by the metrics and by short-handed chances. Gagner also kick-started the Oilers' power play tonight, beginning the sequence that led to the Paajarvi goal. Using Gagner on the opposite wall and moving him from the goal line to the point has given the Oilers a number of different looks and allowed them to move the puck more strongly with a man advantage.

The Bad

Watch the Preds first goal by Shea Weber in the clip above and focus in on Ryan Jones. He alternates between floating, spinning and flailing and generally accomplished nothing except to give Nashville wide open passing and shooting lanes. He still has a few defenders, specifically of his penalty killing abilities, but aside from a few games early in his Oilers' tenure, Jones has been anywhere between mediocre and bad on the penalty kill.

Magnus Paajarvi didn't play on the penalty kill at all. Paajarvi has been the Oilers' second-most effective penalty killer and Ralph Krueger couldn't find time for him.

The Ugly

Nail Yakupov's final shift ended with 10:30 left in the third period. After the Oilers killed the Predators power play, Lennart Petrell moved into Yakupov's spot along with Paajarvi and Gagner. The result? 5 shot attempts against, none for in 1:50 of combined ice time in the third. Consider that Gagner's possession total was -9 for the entire night in his 13:36 of EV time. In his first 11:46, he was -4, in his last 1:50 (with Petrell) he was -5. The 91-89-37 combination posted a Corsi/60 of -164 tonight.Yakupov is a better player than Petrell, just stick with Yakupov.

Craig Smith took a roughing call (it was more of an uncontrolled collision) at 14:10 of the first period. Both Sportsnet and Fox Sports South cut away for a commercial. Rather than take a TV timeout in the arena, which is typically the case, the officials pressed on. Fox Sports got back to the game with 1:30 left in the power play. I have no knowledge of the in-arena mechanics for notifying the official of the television timeout, but someone screwed up royally in the process.

Is playing Nick Schultz with Potter or Fistric really worth getting 31.5% from Justin Schultz and Whitney? Michael Parkatti, Boys on the Bus

There are fewer uglier tandems in Edmonton (wink wink, nod nod, say no more) than that of Ryan Whitney and Justin Schultz. Sure, both are puck movers and offensive threats. But both of their defensive zone games are offensive right now, and together, they've become the Voltron of "hemmed in the zone". At some point during the game, Michael Parkatti Tweeted that Whitney and Schultz had a Corsi of 31% while together on the ice. Krueger seems set on them as the bottom pairing, but this is a case of the numbers telling a clear story. Stop doing this.

The Copper & Blue Three Stars:

★★★ - Jordan Eberle

★★ - Shawn Horcoff

★ - Devan Dubnyk

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