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RECAP: Oilers 4, Avalanche 1

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers

DENVER, CO – Richard Bachman stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Oilers rolled to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night on the strength of goals by Brandon Davidson and Justin Schultz, plus empty-netters by Nikita Nikitin and Taylor Hall.

The win was Edmonton's fifth in their last seven games.

“We’re starting to understand that if we play the game the right way for 60 minutes we’ll have success,” said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson. “Where we get in trouble is if we try to take the easy way out. Tonight was a night where for the most part we played the right way. There was a few times we got caught on the wrong side of the puck but the guys on the next shift went out there an played right.

“We’ve gotten good goaltending — Rich has been outstanding the last couple of games — but guys in front of him played well too,” Nelson said. “Once again, we were keeping things to the outside and he could see the shots. It’s a good team game right now.”

As has been the case in recent games, the Oilers got on the board early. This time it was Brandon Davidson who scored his first career NHL goal on Edmonton's sixth shot of the night 4:49 into the contest.

“It was a great play. I thought Anton’s line played really well tonight. It started with Hallsy making the play down to Miller and he got it to Anton. Anton found Davy going to the net. I’ve seen that before down in OKC. It was a good read for him. I was very happy that he got his first goal,” Nelson stated.

Anton Lander spotted a pinching Davidson after pausing to wait for the blueliner to get into position. When Davidson got into position at the left face-off circle, he made no mistake, rifling a one-timer past Avalanche starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Andrew Miller got the other helper.

“It was a beautiful pass from the corner. I forgot who passed it to me, I was so excited. He was able to put it on my stick and it went in,” Davidson said after the game. “Any way I can contribute — especially offensively — is huge for me. Hopefully I can get a couple more.”

After the goal, the Oilers continued to go on the attack, outshooting Colorado 11-3 as the period reached the midway point. The Avs then started to slowly get some momentum back against Edmonton and it resulted in the equalizer.

Colorado pulled even at 1-1 with 6:42 to go in the opening frame. Alex Tanguay’s slap shot was kicked out by Richard Bachman but Ryan O’Reilly was right there to put home the rebound and make it 1-1.

Shots in the first period ended up at 15-11 for the Oilers.

Early in the second period, the Oilers carried the play. In particular, within the opening 2:30 of the period, the Oilers had a 6-0 lead in shots including sustained pressure over a minute-long stretch between the line of Miller, Hall and Lander doing some impressive forechecking. Shots in the period opened 6-0 Edmonton.

After the quick start in the period, again Colorado clawed back some momentum. Tyson Barrie got around Oscar Klefbom at the Oilers blueline and skated in on Bachman six minutes into the frame. His blast from the right circle was denied by Bachman. The Oilers goaltender said that he saw the puck well all night.

“That’s a goalie’s dream right there," said Bachman. "Most shots were from the perimeter and very little on the turnover side of things. When we did, we got back and had good sticks. (They) had some big blocks, especially on the PK. Guys battled. They battled for me and battled for each other. It was great to see.”

6:40 into the second, the first penalty of the game went to the Oilers. Rob Klinkhammer received two minutes for tripping, sending Colorado on the power play but Edmonton was able to kill it off easily.

After Edmonton had the first six shots of the second period, Colorado rattled off the next six. Total shot count was 21-17 for Edmonton 13 minutes into the frame.

With 6:12 to go in the second, Jarome Iginla had the puck in the slot, spun and fired but just narrowly missed the outside of the post.

Edmonton regained the lead with 4:32 left in the second. Justin Schultz raced down the ice, lifted the stick of Nate Guenin then drove to the net before backhanding the puck past Varlamov to put the Oilers back in the lead.

The Oilers stepped up their game in the third period, allowing only seven shots on goal. Nikita Nikitin scored an empty-netter which bounced its way into the net and shortly after Taylor Hall added an empty-net marker as well.
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