EDMONTON, AB -
A fast start gave the Edmonton Oilers a lead after the first period and, after a brief Tampa Bay rally, they’d use a two goal third period to take a 5-3 victory over the Lightning at Rexall Place.
“I think we played a solid game tonight,” said goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov who made 24 saves in the win. “We did lots of good things, lots of positive things. Especially, coach told us in the morning in meetings what to do and pretty much, we stuck to the plan most of the game and it brought us success.”
Just 52 seconds into the first period, Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz was tagged with a delay of game penalty and gave Tampa Bay the man advantage.
With nine seconds remaining on their power play, Matthew Carle set up Nikita Kucherov for a heavy one-timer and the Lightning winger hammered it past Bryzgalov at 2:43 of the opening period.
It didn’t take long for the Oilers to even the score. Taylor Hall moved the puck to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who centred it to Jordan Eberle in the slot. Eberle didn’t accept the pass clean, but he managed to roof the loose puck past Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop at 4:18 of the first. It was the Oilers first shot of the night.
Bishop left the game with an upper body injury and was replaced by Anders Lindback.
Just 21 seconds after the equalizer, Edmonton forward Ryan Smyth drew a double minor high-stick penalty that would give the Oilers a four-minute man advantage, with which they capitalized.
Eberle scored his second of the game as he one-timed a shot on Lindback. The puck trickled past the goaltender and sat on the goal line, for a few seconds, before eventually rolling in. Sam Gagner and Smyth were awarded the assists.
“We had success when we were getting pucks behind them and not turning pucks over,” said Eberle. “We were having (offensive) zone time, getting chances and it’s a little thing, but it’s a big detail. It creates so much more. We’ve got a lot of skill, everyone says that but if we’re not playing in the offensive zone, that means nothing. That’s the way we got back to it in the third and ultimately, that’s what won us the game.”
With 4:18 remaining in the opening frame, the Oilers would take a 3-1 lead. Ryan Jones, from behind the net, banked the puck off the post and out to Justin Schultz at the point. Schultz stepped in a bit and fired a shot on goal. Luke Gazdic, who was planted in front of Lindback, tipped in the shot for his second goal of the season.
In the second, Tampa Bay began their climb back into the game. At 8:47 of the middle frame, Victor Hedman fired a long-range wrist shot past Bryzgalov. The goal, to draw within one, was assisted by Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson.
Valtteri Filppula evened the game up at 3-3 at 14:25 of the second. Filppula’s 16th goal of the season was a shot shortside of Bryzgalov that found the gap between glove and pipe. Carle earned his second assist of the night on that score.
It appeared that Ales Hemsky had given the Oilers back the lead 2:31 into the third period, but the goal was reviewed and reversed.
It was Boyd Gordon who would give the Oilers the 4-3 lead at 8:20 of the third period. Hemsky and Smyth both snagged the helpers on the go-ahead goal.
“I think anytime you get secondary scoring, it helps,” said Gordon. “If my line or Gazdic’s line can chip in here and there, it gives us a better chance to win games. Hopefully, we can spin this into a positive and get winning here.”
Gordon’s seventh goal of the season is one shy of his previous career high set with Phoenix during the 2011-2012 season.
Not satisfied with a one-goal lead, the Oilers put away another just a few minutes later. Andrew Ference shot the puck from the point and Hall buried it backdoor on Lindback at 10:30 of the final frame to push the lead to 5-3.
“That’s great for us, especially at home here,” said Gazdic. “We had a bit of a rough road trip, so to come back here and start this little three-game set here with a win against a pretty good hockey team is good for us. We’ll get a little momentum going into Tuesday because we’ve got a pretty good team coming in, for sure.”