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Under the Scope: Oilers at Penguins

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton came into Sunday's matchup with the Penguins looking to build on Friday's 2-1 overtime loss as the road trip wrapped up. Unfortunately, struggling special teams and a Pittsburgh club looking to bounce back had other plans. As the opening period concluded, a 2-0 lead was established while the Oilers could only respond with a pair of shots and an unsuccessful two-man advantage late in the frame.

The Oilers would respond well in the remaining 40 minutes, directing 27 shots on Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, but the damage had already been done while the Pittsburgh onslaught continued. Ryan Jones brought the Oilers some hope with an early third period goal, notching his team-leading -- among active players -- 16th tally of the season, but the Penguins reacted with an additional pair in the period to ice a 5-1 victory over the Oilers.

Devan Dubnyk made his second consecutive start, making 28 saves on the 33 shots he faced. His personal record on the season drops to 10-11-7 as the Oilers return home to begin a short two-game homestand.

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

Although the Penguins had established some early momentum in the form of a dominating shot advantage, the Oilers were presented with an excellent opportunity to record the ice-breaker. Penalties to Alex Kovalev and Paul Martin set the stage for an extended two-man advantage. The 1:46 power-play expired without any damage on the scoreboard, and momentum was further added to the home side. Moments later, Chris Kunitz scored to put Pittsburgh up 1-0, ultimately setting the tone for a dominating period. The Penguins out-shot the Oilers 13-2, cashing on two of those chances to vault ahead.

37 Edmonton could only manage a 37% success rate in the faceoff circle today. Of the regular draw-takers, Colin Fraser posted the best result with a 5-6, 45% outing in the dot.
15 The Oilers' power-play continues to struggle with the loss of some key stars up front. Today's 0-for-4 output has now contributed to an 0-for-15 stretch overall.
27 Edmonton's slow start ultimately contributed to the loss today, but the visitors showed promise as the game progressed. The Oilers out-shot the Penguins 27-20 in the final two periods, but Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury stood tall between the pipes.
4 After not receiving a single second of ice-time Friday night in Detroit, Steve MacIntyre played four shifts for 1:55 this afternoon.

Chris Kunitz
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +1 3

Tyler Kennedy
G A P +/- Shots
0 3 3 +2 3

Jordan Staal
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 2

Marc-Andre Fleury
29 28 1 59:55 .966

Devan Dubnyk
33 28 5 60:00 .848

Kris Letang - D

25:37 - 0P, +1 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

25:57 - 0P, -1 rating

Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in Saturday's game vs. Montreal when he allowed three goals to the visiting Canadiens. Getting the opportunity for redemption this afternoon against Edmonton, Fleury responded with a tremendous save to stamp an overall excellent performance. A creative passing play between Liam Reddox and Linus Omark eventually led to an incredible chance for Gilbert Brule. After Omark one-touched a pass into the high slot, Brule walked into a heavy slapshot that was denied by the Penguins netminder. It was a tremendous display of raw athleticism to make the right-pad save. 

With the way the Penguins dominated the opening period shot clock, it appeared as though Marc-Andre Fleury's afternoon would be an easy one. However, the visitors began to press heavily in the final two periods. In total, 27 shots were directed on Fleury in the closing 40 minutes, 26 of which were turned aside. With strong play between the pipes, Pittsburgh was able to ignite the offensive game en route to the 5-1 victory. Fleury concluded the night with 28 saves and his 31st win of the season.

Although Linus Omark will always be known for his offensive sense and creativity, it was his two-way game that garnered attention this afternoon. All things considered, Omark played his most complete game in an Oilers sweater vs. Pittsburgh. His minus-two rating was a blemish on his record, but his otherwise solid outing was highlighted with a number of key points: 14:34 of ice-time, including two shots on goal, one blocked shot, and a near snipe that cranked the goal-post on Fleury's glove side.

At 14:56 of the third period, Gilbert Brule reminded the Penguins that the visitors were not going to go away. After dishing the puck from his crease area, Kris Letang was caught with his head down. Incoming with velocity, Brule exploded into the chest of Letang, sending him violently to the ice and in need of attention from the Penguins' athletic team. Brule would be assessed a questionable charging minor and the Penguins defenceman would return to the game showing no ill-effects from the collision.

Ryan Jones scored his 16th goal of the season in this today's contest. With the tally, Jones becomes the team's new leading goal-scorer among active players, pushing him ahead of Jordan Eberle who has scored 15 in his rookie campaign.

"I thought we lacked a step in the first period and it carried throughout. We tried to get going a couple times and the power-play just wasn't clicking, and we lost the special teams battle. Ultimately that cost us the game.

Ryan Jones talks about the team's slow start vs. Pittsburgh

Thursday, March 17 vs. Phoenix
  7:00pm MDT (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

The Oilers will get a few days to refocus before returning to action this Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. The puck drops at 7:00pm MDT and the action can be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet West.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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