Saturday, November 08, 2014

Something Positive

Before heading out onto their current five game road trip, the one game that looked to be an almost guaranteed two points for the Edmonton Oilers came last night in Buffalo against a Sabres lineup that frankly isn’t very good. Heck it’s not often that Dallas Eakins’ squad has the privilege of facing a team that is actually below them in standings. 

Not surprisingly, it ended up being a far tougher test than it should have been. Despite firing a season-high 52 shots on goal, the Oilers needed a late third period winner from Boyd Gordon in earning a come from behind 3-2 victory over the Eastern Conference bottom feeders. 

Netminder Viktor Fasth was solid in between the pipes, stopping twenty of the thirty-one pucks fired his way, after a less than stellar outing against the Philadelphia Flyers in his first appearance since returning from a stint on the IR with a groin injury. While he was nowhere near as busy as his counterpart at the other end of the rink, the thirty-two year old Swede came up with a number of key stops throughout the night to give his team a chance at pulling off the comeback. 

Rookie Iiro Pakarinen notched the first goal of his National Hockey League career and Mark Arcobello joined Gordon on a two game goal streak, in helping Edmonton not only put an end to their four game losing skid but also grab their first road win on the season. At least one for night, the Oilers managed to take the game to their opponent and actually gave the Sabres fits in their own end for much of the evening. 

If not for a strong effort from starter Michal Neuvirth, despite giving up a god-awful rebound seconds before Pakarinen’s second period equalizer, Buffalo would have been lucky to keep this within three or four goals. With that said, let’s not forget this is the same Sabres side who managed to register just ten shots on goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs, you heard me right, all of ten days ago. 

With or without Taylor Hall in the lineup, this was a game the Edmonton Oilers would have had no business losing so reading too much into their eye-popping shot total would be a massive mistake. With stops in New York and Nashville remaining on the trip, let’s see if this group has grown enough over the first month and half of the season and proves capable of salvaging something out of this road swing against the Rangers and Predators. 

They will likely be facing two of the premier goalies in the game in Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne but the Rangers have had their backend decimated by injury, while the Preds have cooled off a little since coming out of the gate on a 5-2 run. Edmonton can ill-afford to come home from this trip with a 1-4 record. They need wins and they need them now. 

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