As a season ticket holder I can tell you that one of the first things I do when the schedule comes out is look for the must see games. I look for Saturday nights, games against Calgary, or rare visits from an Eastern opponent. What I do not look for are games versus the Wild. It's not that they're bad, it's that they're usually bad to the point of actually inducing sleep. And, while I can't speak for the fans as a group, I think I'm safe in saying that I'm not the only one with that opinion.
My preferences aside though Gary Bettman has decided that the Oilers will host the Wild three times each season. And while Mr. Bettman's ignoring of my wants doesn't exactly make me happy, tonight's game was much better than most that I've seen in this divisional match up, which should be seen as some sort of positive. There was a useless fight involving the most useless player in the Oilers lineup; a couple of nice goals by the home team; a blown two goal lead that included a goal from an ex-Oiler; and a six round shootout that ended with that same ex-Oiler scoring and the Wild winning by a score of 3-2.
I said it was better than most, I never said it was great.
Scoring Chances - Fenwick/Corsi - Head-to-Head Ice Time - Shift Charts
Box Score - Event Summary - Faceoff Report - Shot Report - Shootout Summary
From Hockey Wilderness - Minnesota Regressors vs. Edmonton Oilers: Game Recap
The first period started with the fight we all knew was coming - Darcy Hordichuk vs Brad Staubitz. I would tell you more about the fight itself but I tend to tune out fights that have zero point in the game that's being played. It took Hordichuk only 13 seconds of ice time to get into that fight which is good in that it means he didn't spend much time having to actually play hockey. After the fight Hordichuk played only three shifts the rest of the night, bringing his work for the evening to a total of 2:26, or as I like to look at it, less than half of the time he spent in the penalty box.
The Oilers got the first goal of the game when Andy Sutton fed a beautiful cross crease pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his eleventh goal of the season. With a pass that good and Jordan Eberle in the area I just assumed that that the pass had come from him; imagine how surprised I was when I saw the replay. If you watch the replay even Eberle tells Sutton just how good the pass was.
The Eberle/Nugent-Hopkins combinations struck again in the second period, this time sans Sutton. Like the first goal the pass was a cross ice pass but this time Eberle was on the receiving end and that the goal game on the powerplay. Also different was how Eberle scored, rather that banging home a quick goal, Eberle went to the backhand beating Niklas Backstrom with a fantastic shot high to the blocker side. But it was all downhill from here.
Devin Setoguchi got the Wild on the board at the 11:31 mark of the second period when he knocked home a puck from the top of Nikolai Khabibulin's crease. Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, who is for some reason still getting booed by fans in Edmonton, got the assists on the goal. Just over three minutes later Kyle Brodziak pulled the Wild even when he crashed the Oilers net, forcing a puck past Khabibulin. The goal was reviewed to determine if Brodziak knocked it in with his arm, but was deemed good by Toronto.
The third period saw the quality scoring chances disappear as both teams seemed to play for overtime and the Gary Bettman point. With only one penalty called in the third period, a Theo Peckham roughing penalty, it was easy for both teams to get their single point wish. Overtime likewise produced no goals although the Wild had a number of good chances during the power play that resulted from a Ryan Smyth triping call.
In overtime Eberle and Sam Gagner each scored for the Oilers in their first three shooters. For Gagner it was his first shooutout goal since the 2008/09 season but it still wasn't enough to get the Oilers the extra point as the Wild countered with two goals of their own. The fourth shooters - Nugent-Hopkins and Setoguchi - both missed, followed by goals from Shawn Horcoff and Heatley forcing the shootout to a sixth round. After a Smyth miss, Brodziak had the chance to end the game against his former team. You know he won't pass that chance up; final score Wild 3 - Oilers 2.
News and Notes:
- Ryan Whitney caught Cal Clutterbuck with what I think was an intentional knee-on-knee hit in the first period. I would expect Bredan Shanahan to be on the phone to Whitney tomorrow, doubtful that would result in anything more than a game suspension though.
- Also best wishes to Darroll Powe who hit the Oilers open gate in the second period. It wasn't a play that was any ones fault but Powe didn't come back from the play although he did stay on the bench for a while. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.
- With his goal tonight Brodziak now has eight points - four goals and four assists - against the Oilers in 16 games. If you think that his production seems slightly better against us than for us, you're right. In 175 games with the Oilers he scored only 57 points.
- Eberle had another great game for the Oilers tonight. I just can't say enough about him right now, his play is really impressive night after night. With two more points tonight he nows has 26 points on the season, good enough for a seventh place tie overall.
- And speaking of points, Nugent-Hopkins is one ahead of Eberle with 27 and is tied with Thomas Vanek for fourth in the league. That total now has him ten points clear of Craig Smith for the rookie lead.
- Lastly, just for fun, check out Hockey Wilderness' post game report. Good content but I have no idea why they're so preoccupied with this blog. If we were in the third grade I'd think they were in love with us.