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Under the Scope: Oilers at Maple Leafs

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Taylor Hall scored twice, while linemate Jordan Eberle recorded three points as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0 Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.

Top defenceman Ryan Whitney marked two assists on the night, which gives him a total of 20 on the season and the highest assist-total among all NHL defencemen.

Nikolai Khabibulin returned from injury and provided his team with 33 big saves in the victory. Edmonton now returns home to begin a six-game homestand after having won all three games on the eastern Canadian road trip.

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

Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the lineup tonight and provided his team with several key saves en route to the victory. None were more important than his big stop late in the second, when Nazem Kadri came within inches of his first NHL goal. Kadri attempted a wrap-around, but the paddle and sliding cross-crease effort from Khabibulin denied the young forward. The save preserved Edmonton's 2-0 lead, and turned the tide of momentum. Just a few minutes later, Sam Gagner scored to extend the lead to 3-0 and seal the Leafs' fate on this night.

40 The Oilers won 40% of the draws tonight. Of players who took more than three faceoffs, Shawn Horcoff led his team with a 42% efficiency rate (8-for-19).
20 With another two assists added to his total tonight, Ryan Whitney has now recorded 20 on the season. That mark is tops in the NHL among defencemen.
45 With two young teams looking to make an impression against one another, it was a tremendously physical game tonight. The two teams combined for 45 hits (23 by Edmonton, 22 by Toronto).
3 The Oilers have now won three consecutive games; the team's first such streak of the 2010-11 season.

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +3 4

Jordan Eberle
G A P +/- Shots
1 2 3 +3 1

Nikolai Khabibulin 
33 33 0 60:00 100

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
13 10 3 33:30 .769

Nikolai Khabibulin
33 33 0 60:00 100

Tomas Kaberle - D

22:08 - 0P, -2 rating

Ryan Whitney - D

23:50 - 2A, +3 rating

In case some were still skeptical, Taylor Hall has arrived. The highly-talented forward had yet another incredible evening offensively for the Oilers. Hall's explosive speed and ability to counter-attack is a spectacular skill that led to the youngster's seventh goal of the season. Hall turned on the jets, beat his man wide, and sniped a backhand shot over the shoulder of Jonas Gustavsson. While the shot itself was impressive, the moments leading up to the goal were most amazing. It was an excellent display of the high-end talent Hall provides.

With three games on the eastern Canadian road swing, the Oilers had the unique situation of starting three different goaltenders. Tonight, Nikolai Khabibulin made his return to the lineup after having missed the previous six games with a groin injury. For much of the night, the Oilers were outshot and required a number of big saves from their goaltender to remain in the lead. Khabibulin did that and more, as he recorded 33 saves in the shutout victory.

With Ales Hemsky out of the lineup, Ryan Jones stepped up and performed admirably. In 11:58 of work, the gritty forward recorded one goal and one assist, in addition to a hit and two takeaways. Jones helped to provide a relentless attack on the forecheck, which helped to generate offensive chances for his line all night. That tireless work paid off late in the game when he notched his fifth goal of the season. At both ends of the rink, it was an excellent evening for the 26-year old.

In a game where both clubs showcased an incredible commitment to physical play, Ryan Whitney stepped up as one of the leaders in this area. Late in the second period, Nikolai Kulemin came rushing down the left side where he was met, unceremoniously, by the shoulder of Edmonton's top defenceman. Whitney caught Kulemin with his head down, as he lined up the crafty forward and punished him with a heavy impact along the side boards.

In the 41 games the Oilers have played all-time in Toronto, never before have they shutout the Leafs. That changed on this night with Edmonton's 5-0 trouncing of the hometown club.

"Yeah, it was a good night. Our line was really clicking out there. I don’t think I had too many shots, but I was lucky enough to put them in."

-  A modest Taylor Hall following his two-goal performance against the Leafs

Saturday, December 4 vs. Toronto
  8:00 p.m. MT (CBC / 630 CHED)

After going a perfect 3-0 on the eastern Canadian road trip, the Oilers now return home to face the St. Louis Blues in the first of six straight at home.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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