2007-08 was a year.
It was a year that the Oilers nearly secured a playoff berth after an especially cruel 2006-07. It was a year of change that saw three rookies on their own line with Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson and Kyle Brodziak teamed together.
It was the first full year without Ryan Smyth, who had been dealt to the Islanders over a contract dispute.
Needless to say, this Oilers club managed to put up 41 wins, a feat they’ve only been able to replicate one time since (2016-17).
Twelve years ago, all the scoring was in the third period.
The seventh of eight meetings on the season (divisional opponents played each other eight times a year back then) would prove to be a chess match. A sellout crowd packed the Dome for this one. The Oilers (82 points) were eight points away from Calgary (90 points) in the standings, and badly needed two points to at least get into a tie for the eighth spot.
Midway through a scoreless first period, Zack Stortini and future Oiler Jim Vandermeer introduce themselves to one another. Looks like Vandermeer lands a few more than Stortini and both gents will cool their heels for five. The period would end with both teams failing to score.
Quick: which defenceman lead the team in ice time? That’s Steve Staios, with 26 and a half minutes. Tom Gilbert would pull in second, with just over 24 minutes. Seven minutes in, Denis Grebeshkov (the first time around) would score Edmonton’s first goal in the third period on Flames netminder MIkka Kiprusoff. Grebeshkov’s goal was just his third goal of the season, but it would tie the game up after a goal form Calgary’s Matthew Lombardi earlier in the period.
Ales Hemsky would pick up his 50th assist of the season, while Jared Stoll had a helper as well.
Dustin Penner would provide the heroics in this one.
You’ll recall Dustin Penner.
Penner was acquired after the OIlers put up an offer sheet after the Anaheim Ducks won the cup. Penner signed a 5 year, $21.25 million dollar tender (4.25 a year) after making just 425K the season prior. Edmonton sent a first, a second and a third round pick to the Ducks as compensation. Penner would go on to play nearly four seasons for the Oilers (93-93-186 in 304, a .61 P/G avg) before being dealt to the Kings.
Penner supplied the game winner midway through the third. The goal was Penner’s 23rd of the year. It was a power play goal that was supplied by Ales Hemsky (his 51st assist of the season), Don’t look now, but the Oilers had in the lead.
The game would end like many others of that time period. The Oilers were outshot by a 32-21 margin, but Dwayne Roloson kept the Flames at bay with 31 saves. The win would pull the Oilers to a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race with just over a week remaining in the season.
The Oilers would finish the season with 88 points, three shy the 91 needed for the eighth spot. But it was Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, a little Denis Grebeshkov and Dwayne Roloson who would keep those hopes alive for another couple of days in late March of ‘08.