In the aftermath of the Oilers umpteenth consecutive loss in Minnesota I was curious as to who was next on the list of most consecutive road losses. When I found out that the Flames were the answer to that question I wished I hadn't asked. Before last night, the Oilers had come out on the wrong end of eight straight games in Calgary. Of course they had, because being the punching bags of the league isn't enough, we also have to put up with our provincial rivals kicking us as well.
And if games in the NHL were 54 minute long the Oilers would have come out ahead on this night, stopping that streak dead in it's tracks. But games are just a little longer than that. Games are 60 minutes, and in a 60 minute game the Oilers come away as the losers. For the ninth straight time. I believe the Oilers and Flames are teams headed in two different directions so there is some solace in that but winning in their barn, for the first time in a long time, would still be a very nice experience.
In the first period the Oilers would jump out to the early lead thanks to a Tom Gilbert power play marker; the assists went the Shawn Horcoff and Corey Potter. Despite the lead though, it felt as if the Oilers were playing catch up for most of the period as they were both out shot and out chanced by the Flames. At the end of the day, all that matters are the numbers on the scoreboard and on this night the OIlers held that advantage despite a decided disadvantage in other areas.
The second period was not what many would call a clinic, with the two teams combining for ten shots; the Oilers six and the Flames four. Neither team generated any sustained pressure or significant scoring opportunities. The first period may not have been a masterpiece but this period was something else all together. The best chance of the period belonged to Olli Jokinen who was first turned away by Devan Dubnyk's left pad before putting the rebound off the post.
The third period would be a different story for the Oilers. For 16 minutes things went well. The Oilers had generated more scoring chances (by a count of 7-3) and more shots (8 to 4) but couldn't add an insurance goal and were then unable to stop a couple of bounces turned into goals by Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay. I didn't get the feel that the Oilers were trying to just hold onto a lead, but more that the Flames had been due a goal, or two, all night long. When they finally got them it was just to late for the Oilers to avoid yet another loss in Calgary.
News and Notes:
- In Ryan Whitney's return he was paired with Potter for most of the night and the results were not good. The duo was beat up on scoring chances and on Corsi. For his first game in ten months it wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't what the Oilers were looking for.
- On this night Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got knocked around. His Corsi was -12 and he was out chanced 2-6 at even strength. Both numbers that would back the idea that he needs serious protection, something that will be hard to provide on the road when the Oilers don't have the last change.
- The Oilers struggled on the faceoff dot with only Horcoff managing to break even on the night although Lennart Petrell was perfect on one draw.
- Gilbert lead the team in ice time again tonight with 24:50. Surely when Whitney is back to full speed Gilbert will cease to lead the team every night. Until then he continues to be the Oilers most important player.
- Before the game Miikka Kiprusoff was honoured for passing Mike Vernon for first place on the Flames all time wins list. I'm not a Vernon fan but I didn't think Kiprusoff had been around that long.
- Ryan fact: The lone Oilers goal being scored by Gilbert from Horcoff and Potter would seem to end the Ryan on every goal streak but upon further review all the letters to spell Ryan can be found in those three names. Seems combined they have the power of Ryan.