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Oilers Comeback Falls Short, Wild Win 4-3.

I had both games on my screen at the same time so I confess to not have paid too much attention to one particular game, but I did manage to catch all 13 goals scored between the 2 games and I guess a half-assed game report is better than none.

Nikolai Khabibulin got the nod and was in vintage (i.e. 2010-11) form. I don't think you can really blame him on any of the goals in particular, it's another game where he just gives up too many goals on not enough shots. He can give up any one of those goals and you can't fault him, but all 3 is too much. You can't give up a goal on every quality shot you face, and all of these were stoppable. On the other hand, Tyler Bunz came in and had a really strong game. He made some quality saves and kept the game tied after the Swedes evened it up. Only a late power play goal spoiled his night.

Again I confess that I didn't watch the whole game, and I paid far more attention to the forwards than the blueliners. The Swedes really stood out tonight. Anton Lander played between Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark and that line scored 2 of the 3 goals on the night. The first goal was just as a powerplay expired. The Swedes had come out as the 2nd unit with less than a minute left in the PP and spent most of the PP trying to set up after gaining the zone. The Wild were constantly sending pressure against the puck carrier, but the forward trio were moving and supporting the puck well and were eventually able to settle it down and set up. Paajarvi found Martin Marincin across the top of the PK box and the young Slovak just tried to get the puck on net. It bounced off a Wild player and right to Lander who had enough space that he could have caught the puck in his teeth and spit it into the wide open net. The Oilers 2nd goal was similar to the first as Paajarvi put home a rebound into a wide open net as Lander drove to the net and tipped an Omark pass through Hackett's arm. To complete the Scandinavian Nordic dominance, Antti Tyrvainen (who was paired with Tyler Pitlick and Ryan Keller for most of the night), set up shop in Hackett's kitchen and put home a rebound off a Taylor Fedun point shot.

The Pitlick line was the 2nd best line on the night after the Swede line. They had a couple of good chances and all 3 seemed to work well off each other. None of the 3 are particularly big, but they are all fairly strong on the puck and made it tough for the Wild to get any sort of puck possession while they were on the ice.

I was kind of disappointed with the lone NHL line tonight (Taylor Hall, Eric Belanger and Ryan Jones), though I guess that is to be expected early on in pre-season. Hall looked to have good speed, but he wasn't attacking with the puck as much as we saw last year. That might have just been the fact that he was just out there using the game more as a warm up than anything else. Belanger was strong on the face-off dot and played a good support role away from the puck. No one looks busier than Jones, but he sure doesn't accomplish much. He flies into the corner to engage a puck battle, ends up on his ass, chases the puck carrier back in his zone and chases the puck all around there as well.

The 4th line of Darcy Hordichuk, Tanner House and Cam Abney did what you'd expect. Abney spent most of the game looking for a fight, Hordichuk lost his fight and House spent 8 minutes trying to figure out how they hell he was supposed to play with these two. After hearing some laud Hordichuk for fighting Matt Kassian (and his 30lb advantage), I was left with one question... What else is he here to do? If he can't do that then he's got no role on this team. Stortini is cheaper, probably a better fighter and arguably a better hockey player so I'm curious why he's garbage and Hordichuk is a great signing.

All in all, it was a decent game for what is technically the first pre-season game. Khabibulin's play hurt, but the team as a whole played well enough to win. The Oilers got down early then carried the play until a late goal sunk them. The young kids we expect to compete for minutes all had strong showings and some battles for the last couple of forward spots could be brewing.