Last night was a true testament to the talent and workmanship of the Edmonton Oilers. Two players had five points each in a game that boasted a 6-4 final score. While at times they faltered, the club certainly deserved the win.
Taking the lead early in the first, Edmonton looked poised to take on a team they had struggled against in the season prior. Halfway through the second, it was a completely different story. Down 4 to 1, the flu-riddled Oilers were on the road to a disappointing home loss. That's when the now assumed top line of Dustin Penner, Ales Hemskey, and Sam Gagner found a different road to follow.
Penner finally seems ready to take the role that has always been forced on him since making the move to Edmonton. He capitalized on his best chances, supported his linemates, and played the body. Hard. A five point night.
Hemsky, who was basically invisible in the first, shone through after what I can only imagine was an 'inspiring' intermission. A five point night for him as well.
Gagner, while partially riding the coattails of his more veteran linemates, looked like the rookie of two years ago, skating fast, smart and with a purpose. A three point night for the hardworking young guy.
It's hard to win a game when your team is missing seven regulars and even harder when half the dressed players are battling flu symptoms.
The story for Columbus revolves around two things. How do you give up a three goal lead and how does an ailing team keep your best player, Rick Nash, off the scoreboard that showed four goals for Columbus? Not an easy feat and I imagine coach Ken Hitchcock isn't to happy with his club.
The story for the Oilers is a juxtaposition. It's fantastic that they won a game 6-4 when the chips were down. On the other hand, how do you let a team get three goals up on you? Honestly, the team shouldn't have had to battle that hard. They came out strong, but disappeared by the end of the first. Divisions and Stanley Cups are won by teams who can play 60 minutes of hockey, not just 30.
The Oilers will take their win, and they should be celebrated and commended for the work they did last night. But they should use it as a lesson: "Don't let it get away or you might not get it back."
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