If you wanted a perfect summary of the Oilers over the last 4 years, the game against New Jersey was pretty much a 60 minute documentary on it. The Oilers looked terrible early on before storming back in the 3rd period to beat New Jersey 5-4 in a shootout.
Things went bad for the Oilers almost right off the bat. Jaromir Jagr scored a couple of minutes into the game. A few minutes later, Jordan Eberle took a rare penalty that led to a disjointed PK and a Fabian Brunner goal to make it 2-0. To make matters worse, the Oilers hadn't even taken a shot on goal, and wouldn't until Eberle managed one almost 12 minutes into the period.
As much as New Jersey controlled the first 12 or so minutes of the game, the Oilers would return the favour for the rest of the 1st and the start of the 2nd. The Oilers registered 17 of next 24 Corsi Events and outshot the Devils 10-3, culminating in a couple of very good chances by both Hemsky and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins early in the 2nd. The Devils would respond with a goal off a Justin Schultz turnover to make it 3-0 and suck the life out of the building. Eakins put his energy line out immediately after the goal (for the 2nd time that night) and Brown wasted no time in going after Marek Zidlicky before Bryce Salvador would step up and fight him to a draw. All the momentum the Oilers should have gotten from the heroic effort by Brown (I've been told this is real), oddly went to the Devils as they basically shut the Oilers down for the rest of the period.
Nail Yakupov was bound and determined to get the Oilers back into the game in the 3rd. He had 2 very good chances, including off the post on a shot that beat Brodeur clean. After a short lull where the Devils controlled the puck, the Oilers would demonstrate the skill everyone has been talking about. A delay of game penalty on Salvador would see the Oilers get a PP opportunity. The Oilers would attempt 5 shots at goal, including a mad scramble in front, before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried his 1st of the season. Four minutes later, new captain Andrew Ference buried a long bullet past Brodeur to get the Oilers within 1. Just 2 minutes later, David Perron would rip a terrific shot top corner after a scramble draw and the game was tied at 3. A solid forecheck by Gordon and Hemsky would result in the puck going to an inexplicably wide open Taylor Hall for an easy goal and the comeback was complete. The Oilers led 4-3 after being down 3-0 at the start of the 3rd. Victory would not come easy on this night though. A bad bounce off Ference's skate would tie the game with the Devils net empty. It was just one of those plays where you get in good position, but get some bad luck. As disappointing as it was to not close out the game there, the Oilers didn't seem to lose too much steam heading into the OT/SO.
Once Gagner gets back, the Oilers are going to be able to roll 3 simply amazing forward groups while playing 4v4. RNH - Eberle, Gagner - Perron, Hall - Hemsky. Throw in Yakupov either in the mix on F or on D (or put Perron on D) and there is the potential for fireworks. On this night though, there wasn't much that happened in OT (though I was convinced Jagr would eventually score) and they head to a shootout. Eberle and Perron play a fun little game of horse, each scoring on almost the same forhand-backhand move and Labarbera stops Brunner and Clowe to give the Oilers a 5-4 SO win after being down 3-0 in the 3rd.
- Justin Schultz keeps running the spectrum of amazing and terrible. He was directly responsible for the 3rd goal against and he also made several turnovers with blind backhand passes. He also made a couple of solid defensive plays with his stick, as well as continued to be a wizard in the offensive zone. It's taking time, but he's getting there.
- Despite the goal, Hall still didn't look anywhere as good as he did last year. He had several rushes where he tried to squeeze along the boards, which worked exactly 0 times.
- Eakins love affair with his 4th line is going to cost this team a game soon. After the 2nd Devils goal, the threw them out on the ice and Acton immediately took a penalty. He did the same thing in the 2nd after the 3rd Devils goal, though nothing bad came from it. After Yakupov's great shift early in the 3rd, the 4th line came out and couldn't get the puck into the Devils zone, which resulted in almost 3 minutes where the Oilers couldn't get the puck past centre.
- Hemsky and Perron have consistently been the Oilers 2 best players so far this year. Hemsky had a little bit of a coverage screw up on the PK on the 2nd Devils goal, but other than that he's been fantastic at both ends of the ice. Perron is a solid forechecker and makes a lot of solid, simple plays in his own end.