The Edmonton Oilers were home tonight to face the Colorado Avalanche in the 4th game of their six game homestand. The Avalanche had won both games against the Oilers this season. Injured defenseman Joni Pitkanen was back in the line-up for the Oilers tonight as Alan Rourke sat out. Mathieu Garon and Peter Budaj started in goal for the Oilers and Avalanche.
The Oilers got the first chance of the game in the first minute as Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky set Robert Nilsson up in the slot but he was checked before he could get his shot off. The Avalanche got their first good chance of the game with 2:30 gone as Jeff Finger sent Colorado’s leading scorer in alone on the right side but the pass hit his skate. The Avalanche got the first power play of the game with just over 3 minutes gone as Tom Gilbert was caught for tripping. The Oilers had the best chance short-handed as a 3 on 2 set Steve Staios up in the slot and Brett Clark dropped in front of the shot to block it. Tyler Arnason got the best chance on the power play for the Avs as his shot from the slot went through Garon’s legs and out the other side of the net.
The Oilers killed the penalty and broke out 2 on 1 with the resulting shot by Hemsky saved by Budaj. With six minutes gone the Oilers had some great pressure with Hemsky, Nilsson and Cogliano keeping the puck but they couldn’t get a good chance. The Avalanche finally cleared the zone and Ryan Smyth lost the puck as he crossed the Oiler blueline. Karlis Skrastins stepped into the loose puck and he his drive beat Garon.
1-0 Avalanche at 6:43
After a couple of minutes of end to end action the Oilers got their first power play of the game at 9:24 as Cody McCormack was called for hooking. The Oilers failed to capitalize with the man advantage and with 30 seconds left in the man advantage, Sam Gagner was called for hooking. The Oiler penalty killers did a great job again and the Avalanche failed to score for the 14th straight power play. Ales Hemsky then brought the crowd to their feet as an end to end rush is saved by Budaj but he drew a penalty on the play as Kurt Sauer was called for hooking.
The Oiler power play unit did a good job again of moving the puck around the Avalanche zone but they didn’t really test Budaj with any good chances. 35 seconds after the power play finished, Marty Reasoner was hooked by Joe Sakic and the Oilers went on their third power play of the period. Seven seconds into the power play Shawn Horcoff brought the puck out of the corner and was allowed to get a shot off and he found the net as Peter Budaj appeared to be expecting a pass and was caught off guard.
1-1 at 16:31
The Avalanche came right back after they gave up that tying goal with a good minute of possession in the Oiler zone but they were unable to generate any shots. The teams then went end to end with no good chances. Finally Geoff Sanderson was sent down the left side and his shot was easily grabbed by Budaj. The last 45 seconds finished without any further chances and the period ended. Shots in the period were even at seven apiece.
The Avalanche started the period with some good possession in the Edmonton zone. A quick shot by Sakic forced Garon into a good leg save. With 2 minutes gone and a delayed penalty coming to the Oilers, Wojtek Wolski got a shot away from the slot that Garon kicked to the corner. The penalty was to Steve Staios for holding. The Avalanche controlled the first1:30 of the power play and had chances as Andrew Brunette missed an open net and then Ryan Smyth had a close shot saved by Garon. The Oilers killed the remainder of the penalty and the Avalanche went 0/3 in the game.
30 seconds after the Penalty kill, Mathieu Garon is called for hooking on what was a real bad call by the referee. The Oilers did another good job of killing the penalty but four seconds after the penalty expired, Jean-Michael Liles took a shot that was going wide but Milan Hejduk got a stick on the shot and deflected by Garon.
2-1 Avalanche at 6:35
The Oilers came right back with Horcoff, Hemsky and Nilsson in on a 3 on 2 and a cross ice pass to Hemsky results in a one-timer that Budaj didn’t even see.
2-2 at 7:16
The Oilers continued the pressure after the goal but Andrew Cogliano was penalized for goaltender interference. The Avalanche again controlled the majority of the two minute advantage but the only good chance they had came from defenseman Scott Hannan and again Garon made the save. The Oilers killed the 5th penalty of the game. The Avalanche again kept the pressure on after the power play and Marek Svatos was sent in alone and he got 2 whacks at the puck and the second beat the skate of Garon.
3-2 Avalanche at 10:33
The Oilers again came right back and 25 seconds after the goal Nilsson was tackled by karlis Skrastins which gave the Oilers their 4th power play of the game. The best chance of the power play went to Cogliano as he was left alone beside the net and the puck jumped his stick as he went to tap it into the empty net. The Avalanche killed the penalty and the Oilers were now 1 for 4 on the power play for the night.
The Avalanche came back with a good chance with just under five minutes left in the period as Smyth set up Hejduk in front and his shot was saved by Garon. The Oilers were called for their 6th penalty of the game with just over 4 minutes remaining as Dick Tarnstrom is called for holding. Stastny got an early chance on the power play as he was left alone in front but his shot was again saved by Garon. The Avalanche continued to control the puck for most of the power play but again the Oilers were able to kill the penalty. As the penalty expired the Oilers broke out 4 on 3 and center pass to Stoll is collected by Budaj and held.
The Avalanche came right back with Wolski and Stastny and a good shot from Wolski forced Garon into a huge save to keep the score at 3-2. With 40 seconds to play in the period we got a fight going behind the play between Raffi Torres and Jeff Finger that Torres wins easily as he tossed Finger to the ice. Both players received 2 minutes each for roughing. The period ended with the score 3-2 Avalanche. The Avalanche controlled much of the period with power plays and outshot the Oilers 16-2.
The third period started with some 4 on 4 action as Torres and Finger had 1:20 left in their penalties. The first good chance of the period went to the Oilers in the first minute as Pitkanen broke in on the left wing and his pass found Horcoff for a one-timer that Budaj knocked to the corner. The Oilers came close again 2:30 in as Dustin Penner drove the net and his pass to Cogliano just failed to click. Cogliano was open on the far side if he could have controlled the pass.
3:30 into the period Shawn Horcoff was called for holding on Stastny in the Avalanche zone. It was a bad penalty to take in the offensive zone. The Avalanche did a good job of moving the puck around on their 7th power play of the game but again the Oiler penalty killers did their job.
With 6:30 gone the Oilers had their best chance of the period as Penner sets up Hemsky and somehow Budaj dove across to rob Hemsky. Wyatt Smith was called for slashing Horcoff on the play and the Oilers had a chance to tie the game on their 5th power play of the game. The Oilers did a good job of controlling the puck. For the second time in the game referee Mick McGeough was in the way as the Oilers were passing the puck around trying to set up a shot. The Oilers failed to get a shot on goal during the power play.
Just after the power play was over Raffi Torres was set up alone about 6 feet in front of the net and his shot went wide. How do you miss the net from six feet? With under 10 minutes to go the fans came to life with the chant of “Let’s go Oilers” as they tried to get the team going.
With 8 minutes to go, Torres had the best hit of the night as he layed the body on Smith at the Oiler blueline. With 7:04 to play Marty Reasoner was called for shooting the puck over the glass. That was a rather questionable call as it looked like the puck was deflected by an Avalanche player over the glass.
The Oiler penalty killers were extremely aggressive on the penalty kill and for the 8th time in the game were able to kill the penalty. With 4 minutes to go, Penner sent Hemsky in on the right wing and his blast was saved by Budaj. The Oilers continued to press to get the equalizer. The Oilers pulled Garon as the clock ticked down to 1 minute remaining. With 30 seconds to go, Gagner set up Torres in the slot and Budaj made a huge save as was able to jump on the rebound.
The Oilers continued to press during the final 30 seconds with some good possession but they didn’t manage to get the shot that would tie the game. The Avalanche hang on for a 3-2 victory.
This loss was the 3rd for the Oilers on the 4 game homestand. The Oilers took too many penalties in the game and it is tough to win when you spend that much time short-handed. The lack of discipline was the major contribution to the loss. I also think that referee Mick McGeough did his usual poor job of wrecking a game with his whistle happy antics. The Oilers need to start winning some of these home games if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs. This loss leaves the Oilers still in last place in the western conference with Chicago in Edmonton for the late game of Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night.