The past week has been one of ups and downs for the Edmonton Oilers.
The team went 2-1 during the week, starting with a rather uninspired game against the Dallas Stars.
The Oilers were kicked around and beat up on by a team that was far superior.
It was a loss that the Oilers could ill afford at this time of the year, but it happened and they just needed to look deep inside themselves and put the three game losing streak to end the road trip out of their minds.
Dwelling on those games and situations will not help.
The Oilers then went home to the friendly confines of Rexall Place where they started the five game home stand by giving up a goal only 27 seconds into the first game.
Things didn't get any better as they gave up a second goal 13 minutes into that first period and the team looked like a team who was faltering near the bottom.
With 20 games to go, you could see deja vu.
The Oilers finished the last 20 games last year with only two wins, and this years team was looking to do the same thing.
Then came the second period.
The Oilers came out flying, looking like a team who could beat anyone, and the rookies were looking like polished veterans.
That is what it is going to take.
With the veterans doing some banging, the rookies did the scoring.
First it was Sam Gagner finding the twine just over four minutes into the period.
Then it was another rookie, Curtis Glencross, beating Avalanche goaltender Jose Theordore to tie the game with 29 minutes to play.
The third period looked like the first as the Avalanche came out and dominated early.
The Avs outshot the Oilers 8-2 in the first seven minutes, however with 7:29 gone, Andrew Cogliano used his speed to take a pass from Robert Nilsson and blow past the defender.
Alone on Theodore, he backed the goalie in with his speed and found the far corner with his shot.
It was 3-2 Oilers even though they were outshot 22-17 at this point of the game.
The Avalanche kept coming for the rest of the period but couldn't beat Mathieu Garon for a third time, and the Oilers had a well fought and much needed victory.
Final shots in the game were 29-20 for the Avs.
It was nice to see that six of the eight points picked up by the Oilers on the night were by rookies.
On a "not again note", Ethan Moreau injured his foot along the boards while trying to block a pass and kill the last minute of the game.
He was helped from the bench to the locker room and we were later informed that he has broken his ankle and will join Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, and Raffi Torres on the done for the season list.
Yesterday, after enduring the stressful time known as the NHL trade deadline, the Oilers were back on the ice to face the Detroit Red Wings.
The Oilers were outshot in the first period again, this time by a margin of 12-6, but it was a pretty uneventful period.
The second period was a better period and the Oilers scored the only goal with rookie defenseman Tom Gilbert finding the twine.
The Wings had a slight 14-12 advantage in shots during the period but it was a solid period for the Oilers.
The Oilers looked to have put the game away with under two minutes gone in the third as Geoff Sanderson took a Marty Reasoner pass and blew by the Wings defender.
He then deked Wings goalie Chris Osgood, forcing the goaltender to open his pads slightly and that was all Sanderson needed to slide the puck into the back of the net.
After five straight goals for the Oilers by rookies, the veterans finally contributed to the scoring.
The much injured Wings didn't give up though.
They scored two powerplay goals.
The first was from Jonathan Ericsson with a blast from the slot, and the second was a perfect shot by Pavel Datsyuk to the top corner behind a screened Garon.
12:18 in the third and it was all tied.
The Wings then looked to have ripped the heart out of the Oilers as Valtteri Filppula fluttered a shot through the legs of Garon and into the back of the net.
After all the good saves, that was a tough one for Garon to let in.
The Oilers then got a break.
The Wings Lilja was called for the dreaded clearing the puck over the glass penalty with 1:40 to go.
With 1:20 to go the Oilers pulled Garon giving them a six on four man advantage and it paid off as Fernando Pisani scored on a scramble with 28 seconds left to tie the game.
The overtime session settled nothing and through the 65 minutes, the Wings outshot the Oilers 43-29.
It had been over a month since the Oilers had gone to a shootout.
The last time they did so they had tied the NHL record with 12 shootout victories; a record set by the Dallas Stars in the 2005/2006 season.
Mathieu Garon again showed why he is the best shootout goalie in the business as the three Wing shooters didn't even get a sniff.
The Oilers Gagner and Hemsky were also stopped in their attempts, but Robert Nilsson was not to be denied as his backhand went off Osgood's glove and high into the net.
An NHL record 13th shootout victory.
A positive note to a rather negative season.
Oiler's defender Joni Pitkanen took a puck off his ankle early in the third period and had to be helped from the ice.
We shall see if the Oilers injury list has grown when x-rays are taken.
The one thing I must say after the Wings game is that the officials must use a different rule book for the Wings than they do the Oilers.
While I am not disputing the Oiler penalties, I am suspicious of the lack of penalties to the Wings.
Their rookie defenders were doing exactly the same thing the Oilers were doing, yet not getting called near as much.
Jarrett Stoll got called for slashing in the first period. Justifiably so.
But in the second period, Ales Hemsky took five or six whacks down the sideboards from Ericsson with no call.
Several times the Wing defenders stuck out the free arm and grabbed an Oiler as they sped by, but there was no call.
I am glad the Oilers won or this would have sounded like sour grapes, however, the officials have to be less aware of the teams playing and more aware of the infractions and call them no matter who is playing.
Maybe this has some bearing on how the Wings are No. 1 in the West even though they have lost nine of their last 10 games.
Nine points out of the playoffs and the Oilers continue their homestand on Thursday against the last place Los Angeles Kings.
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