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Under the Scope: Oilers at Avalanche

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

With two consecutive victories highlighting the conclusion of the previous homestand, Edmonton came into tonight looking to continue its winning ways against a struggling Avalanche squad. Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones set the tone, each recording a power-play goal before the midway mark of the first period. Colorado was unable to reply, eventually surrendering an additional three goals on the night en route to the Oilers' 5-1 triumph at Pepsi Center.

Edmonton's success on special teams continued throughout the night, as Andrew Cogliano scored his 11th on the year early in the third period, shorthanded, following a beautifully executed play by linemate Liam Reddox. Overall, a tremendously successful evening for the visitors across the board.

Devan Dubnyk returned to the crease tonight, recording 33 saves on 34 Avalanche shots to collect his 10th win of the season.

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

Early success with the man-advantage set the tone as the Oilers looked to begin the five-game road trip with a win. After Sam Gagner got the ball rolling with his 15th of the season, Ryan Jones added another power-play marker shortly thereafter to establish a 2-0 lead by the 9:17 mark of the first period. Colorado, who continues to slide with its fourth consecutive loss, was stunned and unable to reply with any conviction. The Oilers would eventually go up 4-0 before the Avalanche could record their first goal, but it wasn't enough as the Oilers cruised to a decisive 5-1 win in Denver.

47 The Oilers were successful on 47% of the draws tonight. Sam Gagner, who also collected three points in the game, recorded the best percentage with a 6-5, 55% outing.
42 Sam Gagner's three-point night bumped his season total to 42 points, eclipsing his 2009-10 accumulation with 16 games to play.
7 The Oilers have steadily been improving since General Manager Steve Tambellini's meeting with the players. In the past 10 games, the Oilers have skated away victorious seven times.
15+ Liam Reddox played a season-high 15:47 tonight; 4:51 of which was played shorthanded, where was also able to collect an assist on Andrew Cogliano's third period goal.

Sam Gagner
G A P +/- Shots
1 2 3 +1 3

Devan Dubnyk
34 33 1 60:00 .971

Ryan Jones
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 2

Brian Elliott
19 15 4 28:36 .789

Devan Dubnyk
34 33 1 60:00 .971

Erik Johnson - D

22:35 - 0P, -2 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

23:56 - 2A, +2 rating

With the Oilers leading 4-1 and the Avalanche being granted a power-play opportunity early in the third, Edmonton was looking to keep the home side at bay with a successful kill. Andrew Cogliano, with the help of Liam Reddox, one-upped that target with a beautifully orchestrated shorthanded goal to silence the Avalanche sticks for good. On a two-on-one, Reddox faked the defender before pulling the puck on his backhand, feeding Cogliano with a perfectly-placed pass across the ice, where the Oilers speedster cashed on the ensuing one-timer. It took only 29 seconds for the Oilers to grab hold of the third period.

With Dustin Penner gone to Los Angeles, Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall relegated to the sidelines and the pressure of closing out the 2010-11 season on a high note, Sam Gagner took control. The 21-year old centre recorded three points (one goal, two assists) against the Avalanche, giving him 42 on the season as he looks to take control of the Oilers scoring lead. In his 14:51 of ice-time, Gagner added a plus-one rating, one hit, one takeaway, and a team-leading 55% efficiency rate in the faceoff dot.

Although Edmonton's offence came to shine this evening, solid goaltending at the other end provided the backdrop for the Oilers' eventual victory. Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves on the night, including an impressive total of 19 on 20 second period shots, to lead his club and help silence the home attack. With the win, Dubnyk's personal record improves to 10-9-6 on the season with his second consecutive victory. The rookie netminder continues to improve as he looks to solidy the number one role in Edmonton.

Appropriately reminiscent of the Oilers' last visit to Denver less than two weeks ago, fearless forward Steve MacIntyre was a force. Late in the first period, MacIntyre imposed his physical edge on Colorado's David Jones with a violent hit along the side-boards. Along with his intimidating crunch, MacIntyre backed his play between the whistles with an entertaining heavyweight bout with David Koci. Both sides landed a number of haymakers, but some late-round shots ruled the decision in MacIntyre's favour.

Sam Gagner's three-point outing vs. Colorado upped his season total to 42 points. In the previous two seasons, Gagner had recorded 41 in each. With 16 games to play, Edmonton's 21-year old veteran has eclipsed those numbers as he aims to capture the Oilers' season scoring lead by the end of the 2010-11 campaign.

"The give-a-crap meter runs high on this team."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney's blunt assessment of his team's performance this season, including tonight's 5-1 victory over the Avalanche in Denver.

Tuesday, March 8 at Philadelphia
  5:0pm MST (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

The Oilers' extensive five-game road trip continues Tuesday night when Edmonton visits Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. Game-time is 5:00pm MST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet West.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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