Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Time For A Break

In a season that has seen the Edmonton Oilers hand their fan base one disappointing result after another, Todd Nelson’s crew decided to give them something to smile about on Tuesday night. 

On the strength of pair of late third period goals and one heck of a timely stop from their netminder in the shootout, the Oilers managed to head into the National Hockey League All-Star break on a two game win streak. It may not seem like much but when it comes to the Orange and Blue, it is all about baby steps. 

While it may not have been the most entertaining of games, you will never hear me complain about a final score that reads 5-4. We were treated to a pair of absolute bombs from Alex Ovechkin that Viktor Fasth had absolutely no chance in hell of stopping. 

There was the equally impressive bullet from defenceman Nikita Nikitin that gave Edmonton hope heading into period number three and a snipe no one saw coming from Teddy Purcell to cut the lead to one with four minutes to play. It certainly was a game that had a bit of everything and despite falling behind early…the Oilers continued to fight and that is something this team did not always do under their previous head coach.

While it was a lucky bounce off the skate of Caps defenceman John Carlson that ultimately sent this one to overtime and gave Ryan Nugent-Hopkins his first goal in ten games, it was a bounce that was well earned. There is no question Washington took their foot of the pedal and to their credit, Edmonton made the most of their opportunities and gave Barry Trotz’ side all they could handle. 

For the second time in as many games, the Oilers found a way to get the job done in the shootout but this time around Nail Yakupov would not get to play the role of hero as he did against Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers. While the young Russian was given the chance to leave his mark, it was a night in which Mr. Purcell and Derek Roy stepped up when it mattered most. 

That said, it was Fasth who ultimately turned the tide with a spectacular sprawling save with the game in the balance. What made it even more impressive was the fact it came off Ovechkin and it clearly gave his teammates the boost they were looking for. Within mere moments, Edmonton went from staring at certain defeat to pulling off a second straight win.

For team like the Capitals, it must have been a rather odd feeling to lose a game they had complete control of. With a two goal cushion at their disposal, a record of 21-1-3 in games which they scored first and facing an opponent that had just won their first road game since mid-November, one would have thought these were two points that were all but guaranteed. 

While these players have likely been counting down the days to this break for some time now, it has arguably come at the worst possible moment. In reality this group isn’t really playing much better than they were earlier in the season but they are finding ways to win hockey games and as we all know…there has not been nearly enough of that going on in these parts for quite some time now. 

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