The Oilers homestand continues against the Sabres on Sunday. Game time is at 6 p.m. MT. It can be seen on Sportsnet or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB– The Stars poured on the pressure, but Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson weathered the storm with 42 saves and Jordan Eberle scored the game-winning goal in overtime to hand Dallas a 2-1 loss.
“He stole the game,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said of Nilsson. “He gave us a chance to win, but there’s still guys that were blocking shots and doing some of the things that we needed to do to get the victory. There were some pretty admirable performances and then there were some poor ones. It just shows that there’s a gap between the two teams, a first place team that’s in the bottom third, that we have to close over time. Personnel wise, systematically, effort, skill, size, all those things have to be improved and we’ll work on it.”
At 14:49 of the first, Edmonton got the game’s first goal. Taylor Hall chipped the puck past Patrik Nemeth in the slot and roofed it by Antti Niemi for his 10th of the season.
Hall’s goal was the only scoring of the first period and the Oilers could thank their goalie for keeping it that way. Nilsson stopped a few breakaway chances by the Stars in the game’s opening minutes and made 14 saves that frame.
With under three minutes to go in the first, and with the Stars on the power play, Nilsson slid post to post and denied Jamie Benn for another big stop.
Unfortunately for Edmonton, the Stars finally broke through to tie the game at 18:23 of the second. Mattias Janmark took the puck to the net after a rebound, was denied once by Nilsson’s pad but buried his next chance at it. Janmark was assisted by Jamie Oleksiak and Vernon Fiddler.
In the final seconds of the second, the Oilers had a chance to take back the lead. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t capitalize on a 2-on-1 rush as Eberle lost the puck out in front. The game stayed knotted at one heading into the third.
Shots at one point in the third were 10-0 in favour of the visiting Stars as their high-powered offence tried to get past Nilsson. The Oilers goaltender made save after save, including denying Ales Hemsky with his blocker midway through the final regulation frame.
“That was a hell of a performance,” said McLellan of Nilsson.
41 saves in regulation from Nilsson sent the game to overtime. Four of the last five Oilers games have now went past regulation.
Early in OT, Nilsson gloved a Tyler Seguin shot and the puck went the other way. After a short flurry, Eberle whipped a shot on net and scored the game-winning goal, his first since November 20 (six games without a point).
“My last three games, I’ve felt like I’ve got a lot of chances,” said Eberle. “I’m a big believer that you can keep creating as much as you can out there and eventually something has got to go and it will just roll from there.”
“Finally, Ebs didn’t think, didn’t pick a spot, he just shot it and it went in,” said McLellan. “He may tell you differently, but I thought he just released the puck and believed he was scoring rather than over-clutching and over-handling. Good for him.”
The Oilers have earned points in four of their last five games, and have three wins in that span. Next up for Edmonton is Buffalo on Sunday.