Thursday, December 01, 2011

Game 25: Minnesota 3 Edmonton 2 (SO)

Last week the Edmonton Oilers were finally able to end their seventeen game losing streak against the Wild, in Minnesota. Unfortunately for the Oilers, the Wild have started a new streak of sorts, after beating the Oilers for the third time via the shootout. This time by a score of 3-2. Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak, scored the winner in the shootout after notching his sixth of the season in the second to tie the score at two. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle led the way for the home side, with a goal and an assist each

Edmonton opened the scoring at the 9:58 mark, when Nugent-Hopkins notched is eleventh of the season on a gorgeous cross ice pass from defenceman Andy Sutton. The Oilers managed to stretch the lead to two when red hot Jordan Eberle, scored his ninth of the season on the power play. Eberle took a feed from RNH and deposited a quick back hand past Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom. Twenty five minutes in, everything looked good for the home side but that would soon change.

Just past the eleven minute mark, former Shark Devin Setoguchi brought the visitors to within one. Tom Gilbert's poor outlet pass was intercepted by Dany Heatly and two quick passes later, the score was 2-1. Four minutes later, Brodziak tied it at two with his sixth of the season, on the power play.

Over the final twenty minutes and overtime, both teams had chances to take the lead but Backstrom and Nikolai Khabibulin shut the door and the teams found themselves heading to a shootout, for the third time in four meetings.

The Good
  • The dynamic duo of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle continue to set the pace for the Oilers upfront. The pair now sit in the top ten in scoring, RNH is tied for fourth with 27 points while Eberle sits in a tie for seventh with 26 points. The only downside for the pair, was only Eberle was able to score in the shootout. Nugent-Hopkins had Backstrom beat but hit the post.
  • Both Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarv had strong efforts on their new lines. Paajarvi had a time high six shots on the night and Gagner was a force all night long, playing along side Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. The two simply can't buy a break but at some point, the puck has to go in. 
  • While the penalty kill did give up the goal that tied the game at two, they were solid all night long. They killed off an extended two man advantage late in the first and a Minnesota power play in overtime, to get the game to the shootout.
  • Andy Sutton was solid in his return to lineup. Played just under twenty minutes on the night, including over five minutes on the power play. He kept things simple in his own end of the ice and was a welcome addition to a back end that needed some solidifying. Plus the pass he made on the Nugent-Hopkins goal was a thing of beauty.
  • Outside of a dumb penalty early in the third period, Theo Peckham played his best game of the season. He did his best work on the penalty kill and led the team with eight block shots...that's correct, eight! 

The Bad
  • Ryan Smyth looked as though he was skating with twenty-five pound weights around his ankles. This is the third straight game that the veteran hasn't been good and I am willing to mark almost all of it up to fatigue. The guy has played a tone so far this season and it is really starting to show. Yet, he continues to play ridiculous minutes as he neared twenty three minutes in ice time last night! He played the most of any forward five-on-five and on the power play, which makes little to no sense, plus an additional 2:49 on the penalty kill. Seems odd when you have Lennart Petrell on the bench who saw less then five minutes of ice time and only 1:28 of time on the PK. If the goal is to have Smyth worn out by the forty game mark, they are going about it the right way. Also, as good as Smyth is and has been, he should not be in the shootout until much deeper. Honestly, with the lineup they had last night, Smyth should have been the ninth forward selected, never mind sixth overall. Just poor decision making.
  • Same thing when it comes to Shawn Horcoff. The captain played twenty-five minutes last night...really? Did I miss something or was last night an elimination game of some sort? The only player who saw the ice more was Tom Gilbert, at 26:21. There is no need for this team to have any forward playing twenty minutes a night, let alone twenty five. Not sure why you dress Ryan O'Marra to play less then four minutes and have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins play 18:50 when Eric Belanger played a hair under twenty. They also could have double shifted Gagner, who was excellent on the night, and played just over fifteen minutes. The point is, that they have many options at their disposal but continue to go back to the two vets and it is going to cost this team by seasons end.

Watch Highlights

Hordichuk Fight & Complete Shootout

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