The Senators had lost 11 games in a row, and had traded a fan favourite in Mike Fisher. The Oilers, well we all know how the Oilers had been doing, and that they had won only 7 games at home. Both starting goalies, Nikolai Khabibulin and Brian Elliott had lost the past 13 games. The only difference, Elliott has some OT losses in there, he has earned points. Khabibulin, no points in his past 13 games.
Unfortunately for Oilers fans, theirs was the streak that continues. Nikolai Khabibulin is now winless and pointless in his last 14 starts. You have to feel a little sympathetic for him. Of all the games in the Oilers upcoming schedule, this seemed like Khabibulin's best chance for a win. If nothing else, Khabibulin did show a slight amount of aggression and did attempt to keep the Oilers in the game, even though allowing 4 goals goes against everything this team needed to win. As Scott pointed out in his game article "I think it will be the longest since Don Beaupre put up twenty-three consecutive regulation losses with the Senators and Maple Leafs during the 1995-96 season (that streak was "broken" with an overtime loss)."
The Ottawa Senator's Bobby Butler scored his first NHL goal to open the scoring. Unassisted Butler was able to score because the Oilers could not control the puck and kept giving it away in their own zone. Butler beat Khabibulin high, and the toilet bowl had officially become interesting. The second goal of the game came 54 seconds later from Andrew Cogliano with assists from Jordan Eberle and Kurtis Foster and Rexall rejoiced! Until the next goal. This one went under review, and on further review it was a good goal, and it was actually Jeff Petry to last touch the puck. The goal was credited to Alex Kovalev. What is even worse about both Ottawa goals, they came off of the only two Ottawa shots, Khabibulin had yet to make a save at this point.
Jim Vandermeer was called for interference, in what was the first questionable call of the game. The Oilers didn't do too badly with their first penalty kill. They didn't allow a goal, and the Senators didn't get a single shot on net. Dustin Penner was soon after called for holding. During this pk, the Senators had 2 shots on net, and both were turned away by Khabibulin.
Jim O'Brien of the Senators was called for holding with under seven minutes to go. The Oilers had another soft power play. If you weren't counting players, or aware that a call had been made, you might not have known that the Oilers had a man advantage. The closest scoring chance was Gagner's shot that rang against the post. Amazingly enough the first period closed out with 6 shots for each team.
The second period took four minutes before the scoring began again. The goal scoring team leader Dustin Penner rang one off the post and in to tie the game at 2 with the second shot of the period. Mid-way through the period, Foster was called for hooking but after seeing the Senator's first couple of power plays, there was little concern about the Senators going on the power play. This must be what other teams feel when the Oilers get a power play. Surprisingly enough though, the Senators pulled together a few shots. Then the play got a little physical behind the net. Ladislav Smid took on Jason Spezza, then Colin Fraser took on Milan Michalek, so the penalty boxes filled due to roughing penalties.
Things really got interesting at this point. Chris Neil without his helmet due to a skirmish with Penner took some liberties with Khabibulin. Reminding many fans what watching Dwayne Rolison was like, Khabibulin fought back and this looked like it might be a game much like the Bruins-Candiens game or the Islanders-Penguins game earlier this week. Neil, received 2 for roughing, Theo Peckham received 2 for roughing, and Khabibulin took 2 for roughing and 2 for tripping. The Oilers successfully killed off both minor penalties to Khabibulin and didn't allow the Senators to even generate many chances. The score was tied at 2 and shots were 9-5 for the Senators on the period.
Five minutes into the third period, Jean-Francois Jacques was called for high sticking behind the Oilers net. The ensuing power play for the Senators resulted in 2 shots on net, but not many chances. At this point, I am unwilling to say that this is entirely due to the play of the Oilers. Soon after the penalty expired, Andrew Cogliano was called for hooking, giving the Senators their next scoring opportunity and goal. Michalek beat Khabibulin down low, and the Senators had a 3-2 lead.
The Oilers received their second power play of the game when Zack Smith was called for slashing. A minute later, Brian Lee was called for holding on Magnus Paajarvi. The 5 on 3 was exciting and there were some chances but the Oilers just couldn't get one past Elliot. Not during the final minute of power play time either. The Oilers have yet to score on a 5 on three all season long.
The Ottawa Senators were not done scoring. With six minutes left, Peter Regin (who?!) scored his third of the season on a beautiful pass from Alex Kovalev.
Brian Lee took a tripping penalty on Hall with just over four minutes left to play. As much as I want to say this was an excellent chance for the Oilers to get within one again, it just didn't feel like it. So wasn't it an excellent surprise that Penner rang his second goal of the game, with Khabibulin pulled for an extra attacker. This puts Penner on top of the scoring list for the Oilers with 20.
With the game within one, Khabibulin remained on the bench for the extra attacker. Things didn't exactly go the way the Oilers wanted, as Alexei Kovalev was able to score the open net goal.
Linus Omark was the unfortunate recipient of a high stick from Jason Spezza. As there were blood, this resulted in a double minor with 1:23 left to play. The Oilers did not score with their final opportunities, and had just five shots in the final frame. Compared to the Senator's 8, that might not be as bad as it could have been.
The Oilers had an odd game in the face-off circle. The team overall went 48% but the man who had the best night was Andrew Cogliano. Cogliano finished 9-14 good enough for 64%. Fraser was 45%, while Penner and Gagner were each 40%.
The Oilers went 0 for 3 on the power play, and only allowed a single goal on 7 penalty kills. It's hard to say whether or not that was due to the play of the Oilers, or the Senators.
Overall the game was less than exciting, but what would most people expect from a match-up of the 29th and 30th place teams.
The Oilers once again played a game that lacked discipline. Taking so many penalties does nothing but make it harder to score goals and win games as you all know. The penalties taken for roughing can be seen as not as bad. Players are standing up for their team-mates, they are showing emotion and they are clearly not happy to be in this perpetual state of losing hockey games. The team just has to manage physical play within the scope of the rules. They would be better off if they were able to make more physical plays, and take less roughing calls.
Part of me hoped that shaving his head would make Paajarvi even faster on the ice, you know, like a swimmer? The speed of the youth was on display in this game, the Ottawa Senators overall as a team seemed slow by comparison. Both teams are in the midst of rebuilds, and the Oilers are currently developing their youth while the Senators are hoping to trade their assets to acquire daft picks to develop.
Andrew Cogliano scoring a goal and winning the majority of his faceoffs helped this team to do as well as they did. So, that leads us to our 3 start selection for the game:
The Copper & Blue Three Stars:
★★★ - Jeff Petry
★★ - Andrew Cogliano
★ - Dustin Penner