Edmonton Oilers Still Have Visions of Postseason Play

Martin MaleAnalyst IMarch 12, 2008

The Edmonton Oilers continued their march towards a playoff spot with a 3-0 week. They didn't make it easy on themselves though, as all three games required overtime.

Tuesday night, Oiler rookie Andrew Cogliano, set an NHL record as he completed the natural overtime hat-trick. Cogliano scored the winning goal in overtime in all three victories.

The week started last Thursday for the Oilers as they started a two-game road trip in Columbus. Fernando Pisani scored at 11:02 of the second period on a power play and that appeared to be all the Oilers would need for the victory. Wrong! Dan Fritsche scored for the Blue Jackets with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to tie the game.

Disheartening for the Oilers to say the least, but instead of hanging their heads on what could have been they came out battling in the overtime. Robert Nilsson stole the puck just inside the Columbus blueline and he fed Cogliano, who was flying down the middle. Cogliano took the pass with speed and as a result drove the defender back. From the right side he whipped a quick wrist shot that went between the defenders legs and found the five-hole on a surprised Pascal LeClaire. It was a hard fought victory against one of the teams they are chasing.

The second game of the week was an afternoon game in Chicago. The Oilers are typically not a good team in afternoon games with a 34-48-10-1 overall record.

Chicago and Edmonton are two of the youngest teams in the league. Both teams have a plentitude of good young players and they were all on show for this game.

The Oilers got started early as Dustin Penner opened the scoring at 2:52, only 25 seconds after Rene Bourque had taken a penalty for holding the stick. The Oilers lead lasted just under five minutes as the Blackhawk's top scorer, Patrick Sharp, found the twine with a slap shot over the shoulder of Mathieu Garon.

The game stayed tied at one for the next 20 minutes before the game turning into hockey's version of the last man standing. Duncan Keith gave the Hawks the lead at 8:22 of the second period. Curtis Glencross tied the game 1:41 later. The tie lasted only 1:50 as Jason William dove at a loose puck sitting between Garon's legs and knocked it into the net. Then at 18:36, it was the Oilers' turn to tie the game, as Robert Nilsson tipped home a Sam Gagner shot. Four goals in 10 minutes and it was still tied through 40 minutes.

The Oilers came out fast again in the third period and Marty Reasoner gave them the lead at 1:29 as his slap shot beat Patrick Lalime. The Oiler lead lasted only 1:48 before Robert Lang tied the game on a power play with Zach Stortini sitting in the sin bin for hooking. The Oilers wasted little time regaining the lead as Andrew Cogliano banged in a Gretzky type pass from Sam Gagner at 6:12. The pass from Gagner was a perfect flat pass through two sets of legs and over three stick right on the tape of Cogliano's stick.

The Oilers managed to hold the lead this time for nine minutes. However with just 4:35 on the clock, Chicago's big man, Dustin Byfuglien, beat Garon with a wrist shot. Byfuglien was everwhere on the ice during that shift as he had three shots with the third one finding the twine. At over 260 pounds the Oilers could not handle the big guy and they paid the price.

That set the tone for Andrew Cogliano and his heroics. 3:01 into overtime, Robert Nilsson fed a perfect pass across ice and Cogliano just had to tap it home. A great pass and great heads up finish. A second straight road win.

Tuesday night the Oilers got off to a quick start at home against St. Louis. They scored three goals in the first nine minutes to take early control of the game. Zach Stortini at 2:58 with a wrist shot that picked the top corner, Jarret Stoll with a power play blast from the point at 7:03 and Sam Gagner with a bank shot off Blues defenseman Eric Brewer at 8:40 made it look like an easy night.

Not so. As the Oilers are prone to do they made things hard on themselves once again. Before the first period was out the Blues got the lucky break they were looking for. Brad Boyes shot the puck into the Oiler zone and as Garon was skating behind the net to stop the puck, it took a weird bounce of the boards right out front of the open net to Andy McDonald and he made no mistake.

In the second period the Blues came out fired up and only 40 seconds in, Lee Stempniak snapped a shot by Garon to close the gap to one. 11:15 into the period, Blues' leading scorer Brad Boyes tied the game with a well placed wrist shot that Garon had no chance on. Just less than half a game to go and the three-goal lead was gone.

The remaining 23 minutes was played without further scoring although both teams had several chances. Garon and Manny Legace both played good and made the saves they needed to. Overtime was the prescription again for the night and again it was Cogliano time. This night he was spotted open front of the Blues' net by Sam Gagner and Cogliano made no mistake chipping the puck up and over Legace. Five seconds left on the clock and Cogliano had an NHL record third straight overtime game winning goal.

So, as has been the need for the last three weeks, the Oilers just have to continue winning. No worrying about the other teams, just win. The Oilers play four games in the next week starting with a crucial three-game road trip which sees them travel to Denver, Phoenix and San Jose before coming home next Tuesday to face the Coyotes.