Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Game 48: Edmonton 2 San Jose 1 (SO)


Goaltender Devan Dubnyk's 2011-2012 campaign has been a tale of two seasons. When he has been on his game, Dubnyk has looked almost unbeatable. When he has struggled, the big man has looked as though he is in way over his head, letting in weak goals at the worst possible time. Fortunately for the Oilers, it was the good Dubnyk that stepped onto the ice against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. Thanks to their netminder's solid 44 save performance, the Edmonton Oilers were able to snap their latest three game slide, with a 2-1 shootout victory over the slumping Sharks.

In what was a scoreless opening frame, the visitors dominated possession and overall play in out shooting Edmonton to the tune of 13-5 but they didn't generate much in the way of  high grade scoring chances. They nearly opened the scoring when Jamie McGinn rifled a shot past Dubnyk but it caught iron and stayed out of the Oilers net.

It was much of the same in the middle frame as the Sharks continued to dominate on the shot clock but it was the Oilers who would open the scoring. Jordan Eberle snapped his eighteenth of the season, on what was a fortunate bounce for the home side, to give Edmonton the lead. Jeff Petry's shot attempt was blocked by Douglas Murray but it deflected directly to Eberle, who snapped a quick shot past a stunned Thomas Greiss. Edmonton would carry their one goal lead into the third, despite being heavily out shot, 26-12 in the opening two periods.

San Jose came out hungry in the third in search of the equalizer and were aided in their attempts, when Ales Hemsky was assessed an five-minute kneeing major for his hit on defenceman Brent Burns, at the 5:27 mark. Hemsky was also given a game misconduct and could possibly be facing further discipline from the league offices. 

The Sharks wasted little time in taking advantage of the opportunity, when sophomore Logan Couture scored his twenty-first of the season to even things up. Couture neatly redirected a beautiful slap pass from Dan Boyle up and over Dubnyk, with less then a minute gone in the Hemsky penalty. The Sharks nearly took the lead when a Joe Pavelski shot beat Dubnyk but like the first period, the Oiler goaltender received a little help from the goal post. Edmonton managed to keep San Jose to the perimeter for the rest of the man advantage and were able to kill off the major without any further damage.   

Neither team produced much in the way of chances the rest of the way or in overtime so the teams were headed for the shoot out. San Jose badly out shot Edmonton  45-18 but to the Oilers credit, they left Dubnyk very few second chance opportunities to deal with and played harder then they have most nights, in front of their net.

After both Eberle and Michal Handzus failed to score on their teams initial attempts, it would be the Oilers Sam Gagner who would strike first. Gagner corkscrewed Greiss into the ground with his trademark move, that until recently, had failed the youngster on numerous occasions but he put the Oilers up by one. After Dubnyk made a great stop on Boyle, rookie Anton Lander could have ended things but was unable to beat Greiss. 

That left it up to Pavelski to tie things up or go home but the always clutch Pavelski made no mistake, firing a quick snap past Dubnyk on the blocker side. That meant Taylor Hall would be next and while Hall partially fanned on his backhand attempt, he still managed to get it up and over the fallen Sharks netminder to give Edmonton the lead. Couture would try to even things up again but this time Dubnyk was up to the challenge and made a nice pad save to secure the 2-1 victory for the Oilers. 

The win was only Edmonton's fifth in the past twenty games, as they limp towards the All-Star break. The Oilers will be back at it on Tuesday night as the pay a visit to the Vancouver Canucks, before shutting things down until after the break. Edmonton is hoping to get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker all back in their lineup before the middle of February and will be looking to finish off their season much like they started it, winning hockey games.

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