The Edmonton Oilers were in Denver to face the Avalanche on Wednesday night. The Avalanche had won all three meetings between the teams this year. Edmonton came into the game only 5 points behind the divisional lead. The starting goaltenders were Dwayne Roloson and Peter Budaj.
The first shot of the game took almost 3 minutes and it went to the Avalanche as Cody McCormack moved out of the corner and took a shot that Roloson saved and held. The teams had gone end to end to that point with no whistles. Joe Sakic then had a good shot that again Roloson saved. The Avalanche continued the pressure and at 4:14 it was Jaroslav Hlinka finding Milan Hejduk open at the far post and he banged the pass in.
1-0 Avalanche at 4:14
Off the face-off the Avalanche came right back into the Oiler zone and it was Hejduk this time setting up Brett Clark and his shot finds the back of the net.
2-0 Avalanche at 4:39
The Avalanche continued with more pressure. Shots were 7-0 for the Avs in the first 5 minutes. More pressure and more shots by the Avalanche. The Oilers finally came close 7 minutes in as Geoff Sanderson found Kyle Brodziak open on the far side and with Peter Budaj beaten he rang his shot off the crossbar. He was so open he could have just slid it in but he actually took the shot and rung it off the iron.
The Oilers registered their first shot with just under 9 minutes gone as Stoll crossed the blue-line and he fired the shot that Budaj grabbed. The shots were now 11-1.
The Avalanche continued to control the play and added a few more shots including a wrap-around attempt by Marek Svatos. Then it was Wojtek Wolski with a shot from the slot that Roloson kicks to the corner followed again by a wrap-around, this time from Ryan Smyth.
Five minutes to go and Tyler Arnason almost made it 3-0 as he took a shot as he crossed the blue-line that seemed to hand-cuff Roloson. Roloson got enough of it and was able to drop on the rebound as it was rolling toward the empty net.
Four minutes to go and the Avalanche continued to press and Stastny almost set up Hejduk in the slot but a back checking Sam Gagner broke it up. With 2:30 to go the Avalanche had a 3 on 1 due to a bad line change by the Oilers and Ryan Smyth went to set-up Tyler Arnason for a shot but the puck bounced. With just over two minutes to go the Oilers got the first power play of the night at Arnason was called for hooking in the neutral zone.
The Avalanche killed the penalty easily and actually had a chance in the last 6 seconds as Arnason took the puck coming out of the penalty box but his pass was cleared away. Shots in the period favored the Avs 17-3. A brutal, brutal period for the Oilers.
The Avalanche started the second period as they finished the first. The first chance of the period went to Andrew Brunette but Dwayne Roloson flashed the leather to prevent the goal. 2:30 gone and Grebeshkov gave the puck away just outside the blue-line to Jan Hlinka and he found Stastny in and his shot is again grabbed by Roloson.
The Avalanche were all over the Oilers. The shots were 5-0 for the Avs in the first 4 minutes of the period. Five minutes gone and the Avalanche continued to push for a third goal, this time it was Wolski and Sakic on a 2 on 1 that Roloson was forced to save. Off the face-off it was Kyle Brodziak being called for tripping and the Avs power play got a chance to increase their lead.
The Avalanche had a couple of early chances on the power play but Dwayne Roloson was there again to keep the puck out of the net. Roloson was spectacular to this point of the game. The Oilers killed the penalty but as it expired, the Oiler’s Steve Staios was called for holding.
The Avalanche continued to control the puck until the Oilers blocked a shot and Shawn Horcoff picked up the puck and moved in and took a shot with a rolling puck and Budaj made a big leg save. The Avalanche came right back with more pressure and it was Paul Stastny finding Joe Sakic all alone in the slot and he had time to tee the shot up and he rifled it by Roloson. How he could be so alone is beyond me.
3-0 Avalanche at 8:45 with the shots 28-4.
The Avalanche had another odd man break with 9:30 to go and Robert Nilsson was called for hooking. The Avalanche came close to making it 4 as Svatos sent Brunette in alone on the left wing but his shot went wide of the net. The Avalanche continued with the pressure and Roloson dove on the puck. Steve Staios and Ryan Smyth were called for roughing on the play as Staios took exception to some late whacking by Smyth.
The Oilers killed that penalty and then the teams exchanged some end to end action that resulted in some weak shots but nothing that gave either goaltender any problems. Joe Sakic then came close to making it 4-0 when he was left alone again this time to the right side. His patented wrist shot again gave Roloson problems but he managed to hang on for a face-off. Off the face-off the Avs continued the pressure and this time Sakic was the set-up guy and he found Wolski open for a one timer that easily beat Roloson.
4-0 Avalanche at 14:38.
The Oilers then had their best chance of the period as Stoll flipped the puck at the net and Zack Stortini’s deflection goes off the pad of Budaj. The Oilers then got their second power play of the game as Wolski hit Andrew Cogliano with a high stick. The Oiler started the power play with a little possession until Dustin Penner had his stick slashed in half and the Avalanche cleared the zone. How was there no penalty on that slash is anyone’s guess. The Oilers had some good pressure and the best chance went to Staios as his rocket from the point that Budaj kicked to the corner.
The Avalanche killed the penalty and as they rush back into the Edmonton zone, Joni Pitkanen is called for hooking. Only 1:21 left in the period as the Avalanche started their 4th power play of the period. The Oilers killed the remainder of the period off. Shots in the period again favored the Avs 19-6.
It appeared that Craig MacTavish gave Roloson the mercy hook as Mathieu Garon was in to start the third period. The Avalanche began the period with 39 seconds left on the power play. The Oilers were able to kill the remainder of the penalty but the Avalanche had some good pressure again.
The Oilers finally got some good puck possession deep in the Avs zone with just under four minutes gone and with a good cycle going Cumiskey was called for a rather weak tripping call. The Oilers continued the pressure for most of the power play with Marty Reasoner having the best chance from close range that Budaj kicked away.
7:30 gone and Joni Pitkanen had and end to end rush that resulted in a centering pass that was just out of the reach of Stoll. The Oilers had another rush that resulted in the puck going behind the net. Stoll then took the defender into the boards and the puck jumped right to Torres who moved from behind the net and tucked the puck under Budaj.
4-1 Avalanche at
The Avalanche came back off the face-off and as they were driving the stick of Brunette went through the ear-hole of Staios’ helmet and the Oilers had their fourth power play of the game. The first 30 seconds of the power play saw Ben Guite break out alone and he tried to deke Garon but Garon made a big skate save. The Oilers then had a chance but a pass from Hemsky rolled right through the crease.
The Avalanche killed the penalty and it was another breakaway this time for Ryan Smyth. As he moved in and went to deke, Garon made a big poke check to deny him. Steve Staios was called for an extremely weak hooking call on the play.
The first minute of the power play was dominated by the Oiler penalty killers. Then Hejduk set up Sakic cutting across the front of the net and his deflection went inches wide of the net. The Oilers did a good job of killing the remainder of the penalty.
The Oilers again moved back down the ice. Sam Gagner sent a pass back to the point to Denis Grebeshkov and his shot is deflected by Horcoff up and over Budaj.
4-2 Avalanche at 14:11
The Oilers came right back again with first Torres and then Hemsky having scoring chances that Budaj is able to save. The Oilers continued to buzz the Avalanche net and it was then Sanderson with a wrap-around attempt that Budaj got the paddle down on.
Colorado then had a chance with 3 minutes to go as Guite was in alone on Garon but again it was Garon making the save. With 2:35 to go the Oilers pulled Garon in favor of the extra attacker. It looked at this time that the Avalanche were just hanging on.
The Oilers had all the pressure during the last 2:30 but they were unable to beat Budaj a third time and the Avs were unable to score into the empty net.
I really don’t understand this team at times. They played a good third period but where was that same effort during the first two periods.
I also can’t figure out why offensively talented players such as Nilsson, Sanderson and Cogliano sat during most of the third period while offensively challenged players like Reasoner and Stortini continued to take shifts especially since neither was on the ice for any of the four Avalanche goals tonight. I am dumbfounded with MacTavish at times because he appeared to bench those 2 players but guys like “donate the puck” Grebeshkov continues to play. I am not sure of the thinking behind it but stupid coaching will eventually cost a coach his job.
The Oilers now go home Friday to face the Anaheim Ducks.