The Edmonton Oilers returned home on Saturday night after a successful road trip in which they collected five of six points. The visitors were the Vancouver Canucks.
Curtis Sanford and Mathieu Garon were the starting goaltenders. Raffi Torres again found himself in the press box with Geoff Sanderson back in the lineup. The last time these teams met we had a 0-0 tie that the Oilers won in a shootout.
The game started with some frantic end-to-end action, with neither team able to get a shot on goal. The Canucks registered the first shot on goal over 2:30 into the game, but Garon made an easy save.
The Oilers got their first shot with 4:45 gone as Andrew Cogliano drove the net from the corner and Sanford had to make a big save. The Oilers then held the puck in the Canucks zone for a minute and had several good scoring chances but only one shot on net. Great end-to-end action again with no whistles.
The Canucks came close with seven minutes gone as Garon got confused with Denis Grebeshkov behind the net, which allowed Daniel Sedin to pick up the loose puck and center it to Henrik Sedin. Henrik then ripped a shot wide of the open net.
The teams continued the end-to-end action with the Oilers getting the better of the scoring chances. Halfway through the period it was Sam Gagner setting up Steve Staios at the point and his blast bounced off the pads of Sanford right out front but there was no Oiler around to bang the puck in.
8:30 to go and the Oilers again came close as Dustin Penner drove the Canucks zone and dropped the puck to Hemsky. Hemsky’s shot again gave Sanford some problems as the puck hit him high and bounced out front but again no Oiler was close enough to bang the rebound in.
The Oilers then got the first power play of the game with 5:43 gone. Mattias Ohlund was called for hitting from behind as he pasted Andrew Cogliano into the boards, face first. The Oiler power play was able to control the puck for much of the power play and was able to get a shot on goal. A blast from the point by Sheldon Souray also went just high over the net and broke the glass in the process which resulted in a short delay. The Canucks killed the penalty and came right back with the Sedin line.
The Oilers continued their pressure though as Stoll was stopped on a wrap around attempt. Again the rebound bounced out front and no Oiler was able to bang it home again. Cogliano then drove to the net and Taylor Pyatt was called for a hook on the play.
The Oiler’s second power play again controlled the puck and Canuck’s zone to start but the Canucks did a good job clearing the zone. The Canucks again killed the penalty and as they did the period came to an end. The period ended scoreless with the shots favoring the Oilers 9-6.
The Canucks started the second period with some early pressure and Garon had to make a save from a point shot. The Canucks continued the early pressure with the Sedin line and again Garon had to make a good save off a deflection by Daniel.
The Oilers had seen enough of that and came back with some pressure of their own. Both Gagner and Pisani had shots that Sanford was able to deal with easily. The Sedin line again had some pressure but no shots. The Oilers countered quickly as Stoll broke out two on one but his blast was high over the net.
The end-to-end action then continued much as it did in the first period. There were only eight whistles in the first period and the second period started much the same way with lots of skating by both teams.
Both teams took chances going end-to-end as the teams wanted to open it up a bit to try and get the important first goal. Both teams had some shots and both goalies were able to make easy saves. The best chance came from the stick of Shawn Horcoff as he took a pass in the slot from Ales Hemsky but Sanford made the pad save again.
The Oilers then had a great chance with eight minutes to go as some great passing set up Robert Nilsson and he made a spectacular pass across ice to a streaking Tom Gilbert but Lukas Krajicek dove to break up the play.
The Canucks came back with the Sedin line as Daniel took a pass from Henrik. His shot then had Garon beat but not the post as the ringing noise filled Rexall Place. The Oilers were then called for too many men on the ice and the Canucks had their first power play.
1:07 through the power play, the Oiler’s Kyle Brodziak broke up a pass at center ice and drove into the Canuck’s zone and was held by Alexander Edler, ending the power play. Neither team did anything with the play at four on four. The Oilers then had just over one minute of a power play. The Oilers again controlled the zone with the man advantage and Sanford had to be sharp on two Sheldon Souray bombs from the point. Again the Canucks killed the penalty.
The last 2:30 of the period was again end-to-end action with the final chance going the Oilers way as Penner was in on a three-on-two with Hemsky and Horcoff and his shot forced Sanford to make a big time save just before the buzzer. The period ended still scoreless with the shots favoring the Canucks 9-8.
The Canucks again started the period with some good pressure. The Sedin line cycled the puck successfully for 30 seconds but were unable to get a shot on Garon. The Oilers cleared the zone but the Canucks again came back with a second and third shift of possession in the Oiler zone. Hard battling in front of the Oiler net resulted in penalties to Brown and Souray.
The resulting four-on-four action started frantically for the Oilers as both Stoll and Horcoff broke their sticks and the Canucks controlling the puck in the Oiler zone. Garon finally grabbed the puck and stopped the play allowing the Oilers to get new sticks. The Oilers then had a good spell of controlling the puck in the Canucks zone but the Canucks kept everything to the outside and the Oilers were unable to get any shots.
12:30 to go and the Oiler fans began the chant of “Let’s go Oilers” as they tried to get the team a goal. At 8:38 the Canucks got a great chance to break the scoring drought as Dustin Penner was called for tripping and the Canucks had their second power play of the game.
The Oilers did a great job of killing the first 1:25 of the penalty. The Canucks then got possession in the Oiler zone and finally Kesler had a great chance from the left circle that Garon made his best save of the game on. The Oilers killed the penalty and then it was their turn for some puck possession.
The Oilers did a good job of cycling the puck down low and Matt Cooke crunched Hemsky in to the boards. It looked like a hit from behind but nothing was called.
The Canucks came back with some pressure by their fourth line but like much of the night the pressure was wasted without any shots on goal.
The Canucks then had a great chance to score with just over six minutes left as Grebeshkov lost an edge and fell giving the Canucks an odd man rush that Garon kicked to the corner.
The Oilers then did a great job of creating a scoring chance as Stoll was set up in the slot and Sanford kicked the puck to the corner. The Oilers continued the pressure as Souray kept the puck in the zone and Hemsky drives behind the net and finds an open Horcoff to the left of the net and he puts the shot high over a sprawling Sanford. 1-0 Oilers at 16:30.
The Oilers came back with more pressure but the Canucks cleared the zone and the Sedin line went to work controlling the puck in the Oiler’s zone. Garon made a great save off a blast by Naslund. Naslund got the rebound and his shot was deflected by Henrik. Garon made the save but it went right to Ohlund and he fired it high over Garon’s shoulder. 1-1 at 18:38.
Neither team could get the game winner in the last 1:22 so regulation time ended tied at one. The shots in the period favored the Canucks by a margin of 12-6.
For the fourth straight time for the Oilers and third straight for these two teams against each other, an overtime period was required. The Oilers came close in the first 15 seconds as Horcoff had a shot from in close but Sanford made a big save.
The Canucks came back and it was Garon’s turn to make a big save. Steve Staios and Jason Jaffrey started throwing punches at the end of the play. Both received five minutes for fighting on the play.
The teams then exchanged some end-to-end action and Willie Mitchell took a shot from just inside the blue line that Garon held. The Oilers came right back on a three-on-two with Horcoff setting up Joni Pitkanen. His shot was blocked but then Pitkanen found an open Hemsky and his shot was saved big time by Sanford. Neither team could win the game in overtime despite the fantastic action and for the third straight game the Oilers would go to the shootout.
The Oilers are a league’s best 9-1 in the shootout this year. The Canucks had the first chance. Trevor Linden deked and Garon made the save. Sam Gagner deked and lost the puck. Ryan Kesler shot and scored low to the stick side. Ales Hemsky shot and Sanford made the save. Taylor Pyatt then shot and Garon made the glove save. Shawn Horcoff shot and scored high to the stick side. Alexander Burrows shot and Garon made the arm save. Fernando Pisani went backhand to the five hole and it found the opening. A 2-1 shootout victory for the Oilers. Their third straight overtime victory.
Both teams did a lot right tonight which was evident by the 1-1 score after regulation and overtime.
Both teams protected their zones efficiently, making the opposition shoot many of their shots from the outside. Both teams collapsed on defense, which allowed them to clear any rebounds. Both teams played hard to the end of the game, with both goals coming in the last four minutes. Both goaltenders played great and made the saves when they had to.
Some may look at the scoreline and see 1-1, but the game was as good as many high-scoring games, as the action was almost nonstop and the teams worked hard. The win pulls the Oilers to within four points of the division leading Canucks.