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Under the Scope: Oilers at Avalanche

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers arrived in Denver looking to get back on track following a 4-1 loss in Minnesota one night ago. Success with the man-advantage helped the visitors establish a 3-0 lead in the second period. Although Colorado would continue to press, eventually registering a marker on the scoresheet late in the frame, Devan Dubnyk stood tall to prevent the home side from getting any closer. In total, the rookie netminder made 38 saves in his return to the crease for his second consecutive victory.

The Avalanche out-shot the Oilers by a 39-31 count, but the goal-scoring deposits by Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Kurtis Foster provided the required edge on the scoreboard. Newly acquired Avalanche goaltender Brian Elliott struggled, making only 26 saves on the 31 Edmonton shots he faced.

The Oilers now return home with a 1-1 road trip record as a new homestand begins this Friday at Rexall Place.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

Although Edmonton had established a comfortable 3-0 lead late in the second period, the game was certainly not out of reach for the home side. Colorado continued to push for an offensive spark and were eventually rewarded with only 2:24 to play in the middle frame. The intermission came at the right time, as the Oilers came out in the third with an engaged effort to seal the victory and renew their control of the game. Edmonton would tally an additional two goals, while out-shooting the Avalanche 15-10 to earn the two points.

43 The Oilers were victorious on 49% of the faceoffs tonight. Sam Gagner posted the best result, with a 7-6, 54% outing in the dot. Shawn Horcoff was a close second, as he recorded an 11-10, 52% evening.
21 Taylor Hall continues his furious goal scoring pace. The talented rookie has now recorded 21 on the season, tying him with Dustin Penner for the team lead in this regard.
18 The physical tone was established early when Steve MacIntyre crushed David Koci along the side-boards, but the team carried that role throughout the night. In total, the Oilers recorded 18 hits against the Avalanche.
4 Although the winning streak was snapped in Minnesota, a new one began tonight. Edmonton has now won four of its last five contests. 

Jordan Eberle
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 5

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 5

Milan Hejduk
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 4

Brian Elliott
31 26 5 60:00 .839

Devan Dubnyk
39 38 1 60:00 .974

Erik Johnson - D

26:29 - 0P, E rating

Jim Vandermeer - D

24:18 - 0P, +1 rating

It was the sequence that got the offensive ball rolling for the Oilers. On the power-play, a creative passing play began on the tape of Ales Hemsky. With quick puck movement highlighting the advantage, the biscuit eventually found its way to captain Shawn Horcoff. After taking a quick glance into the slot, he spotted a streaking Dustin Penner who arrived at the top of the crease waiting for the incoming pass. Penner one-touched the pass into the back of the net, putting his club up 1-0 at the 14:17 mark of the opening period. The reunited top line continues to produce at a tremendous pace.

Although Devan Dubnyk recorded a victory against the Atlanta Thrashers last week, the performance wasn't his strongest of the 2010-11 campaign. In returning to the pipes tonight, the rookie goaltender responded with an absolutey brilliant performance en route to the triumph. In total, Dubnyk made 38 saves on the 39 shots he faced (including the 13-3 shot discrepancy in the first period) to lead his team. Dubnyk now improves his personal record to 8-7-6 on the season.

The absence of Ryan Whitney on the blueline has created holes, but Tom Gilbert has done an excellent job in helping to replace his minutes and hard-nosed role. Tonight, Gilbert played an exceptional 21:16, recording two assists, a plus-two rating, and three blocked shots. Although bumps along the way are to be expected, Gilbert's constantly improving two-way game has helped him establish his role as the team's most reliable rearguard. Tonight was just another example of that.

Coming into tonight, Steve MacIntyre hadn't played since Feb. 13th when the Oilers battled the Anaheim Ducks. Wanting to make an immediate impression, MacIntyre stepped up to deliver a thunderous hit only minutes into the game. Colorado forward David Koci stood stationary along the side-boards, where an incoming MacIntyre imposed his will. A solid shoulder-to-shoulder impact sent Koci violently to the ice, with his stick and gloves soon to follow in the opposite direction; the physical tone had been set.

Taylor Hall continues to contribute at a hot pace, recording his team-leading (along with Dustin Penner) 21st goal of the season. But this was only one of the offensive highlights in a game that featured five goals for the visitors. In total, 12 different Oilers recorded at least one point tonight.

"We thought they would come out exactly like they did. It was really important for Devan (Dubnyk) to be real good and he was. We got our sea legs and started to feel good about our game as it transpired."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the importance of Devan Dubnyk's early heroics tonight.

Friday, February 25 vs. St. Louis
  7:00pm MST (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

Following the brief two-game road excursion, the Oilers return home Friday night to take on the St. Louis Blues. Game-time is 7:00pm MST and can be seen on Sportsnet West.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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