The Edmonton Oilers were in Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche tonight. The Oilers didn't skate this morning as coach Craig MacTavish decided he wanted the guys to save themselves for the game tonight.
Initially it didn't seem to work as the Oilers took an early penalty again and while the Avalanche didn't score on that man advantage, they scored shortly after on a point shot that was deflected through the five hole on Oiler goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
The Oilers came back four minutes later with a goal of their own as the rookies Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Cogliano teamed up. The Avalanche took the lead again 4 minutes later as Oiler killer Tyler Arnason again found the net against the Oilers. Arnason had 13 points in 8 games versus the Oilers last year and already has a couple in two games this year.
34 seconds after the Avs took the lead it was the Oilers turn again as defenseman Tom Gilbert fired a shot over the shoulder of Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj to even the score. 26 seconds after tying the game the Oilers went on their second power play of the game with Milan Hejduk getting called for interference. The 30th place and pathetic Oiler power play went to work and 43 seconds in Jarrett Stoll sent Ales Hemsky away. He dangled with the puck beating 3 Avalanche players before picking the far side on an out of position Budaj. The Oilers were called for a late penalty to Dustin Penner but finished the first period with a 3-2 lead. The Oilers were really playing with heart in this period.
The goaltenders came out to play in the second period. Unlike the first period where each let in an easy goal or two, they made some spectacular saves in the second period and stopped the scoring. The period ended the way it started, 3-2 Oilers. The Avalanche had the better portion of the play in the period out shooting the Oilers 11-7. Both teams took a penalty in the period and the goaltenders were able to close the door and make some big saves. If the Oilers can continue to play hard like this then 30th place in the league will be a distant memory soon enough.
The Oilers came out flat to start the third period as just over 2 minutes in Ian LaPerriere scored to even the game. That seemed to wake the Oilers up though as they controlled the majority of the third period. Oiler forward Raffi Torres continued his frentic pace as he continued taking shots-10 for the 3 periods-and banging bodies but he can't buy a goal right now. Hemsky continued to dangle with the puck but he too couldn't find the mark for a second time.
There was some great end to end action and the goalies were sharp especially Budaj as the Oilers out shot the Avalanche 13-7 in the period. The Avalanche took the only penalty of the period but the NHL's worst power play was unable to do anything with it. I must say though that the referees missed several tripping calls in the period including one on Andrew Cogliano with under 30 seconds to play. Tripping with the stick seems to be okay tonight whereas a tug with the stick on the body is called.
Overtime solved nothing with both teams having a couple of good chances and both goaltenders looking solid. The Avalanche had the better of the chances and out shot the Oilers 4-1 in the extra time.
In the shootout it was Wojtek Wolski scoring and Ryan Smyth being saved and Joe Sakic hitting the crossbar. For Edmonton it was Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky missing the net and Raffi Torres finding the net to keep the shootout going. Marek Svatos scored with his shot nicely beating Dwayne Roloson to the glove side and then Marty Reasoner being saved by Peter Budaj as the Avalanche finished the comeback to win in the shootout.
Overall the Oilers played a better game than they did the other night in Minnesota and picked up a point for the loss in the shootout but at the end of the day they still lost for the 4th straight game. The big problem right now is that they are missing too many veterans and the rookies and other players are having to play more minutes than normal and in situations they are either not used to or not prepared for. Edmonton now has two days to prepare as they now travel to Calgary to play the much hated Flames on Saturday night.