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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Avalanche

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall connected with only 29 seconds to play in the third period to put Edmonton up by one; ultimately sealing victory as the Oilers defeated the Avalanche 3-2 at Rexall Place.

Martin Gerber made 35 saves and picked up an assist on the winning goal to help lead the Oilers, while Taylor Hall and Tom Gilbert each recorded two-point evenings to provide the offensive catalyst. Colorado's Matt Duchene was causing trouble all night with a two-point performance of his own, but Edmonton's late-frame tally got in the way of a successful evening. For Edmonton, this was the team's first home win since the second game of the season back on October 10th.

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

Although Edmonton appeared to be headed down a similar path when the Avalanche tied the game after falling down 2-0 early, the Oilers didn't buckle. For much of the latter half of tonight's game, the Oilers controlled the pace and worked a forecheck that created a number of scoring opportunities. This was definitely the case when, with 29 seconds to play, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall manufactured a dramatic conclusion to the evening. Hall's goal was his fifth of the season and provided Edmonton with a win they so desperately needed.

38 The Oilers' faceoff struggles continue, with the team only converting on 38% of the draws this evening. Shawn Horcoff again led Edmonton with a 55% efficiency rate.
36 It was an incredibly physical game tonight, with the two teams combining to record 36 hits (20 by Colorado, 16 by Edmonton).
25 While the Oilers moved the puck well tonight and controlled the pace for much of the latter half, it was still a sloppy game at times. The Oilers committed 25 giveaways tonight.
1 With his goal tonight, Taylor Hall has recorded his first NHL game-winning goal. It was his fifth on the season with many more to come.

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 4

Matt Duchene
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 3

Theo Peckham
G A P +/- Shots
0 0 0 +2 1

Peter Budaj
24 21 3 59:40 .875

Martin Gerber
37 35 2 60:00 .946

John-Michael Liles - D

25:38 - 0P, -1 rating

Ryan Whitney - D

26:16 - 0P, +1 rating

It also happened the be the play that won the game for Edmonton. With only 29 seconds to play, Jordan Eberle controlled the puck well along the boards behind the net and into the corner. He eventually broke free from the check and centered the puck to a wide-open Taylor Hall. The first overall pick in this past June's draft collected the puck and made a picture-perfect shot over the shoulder of a helpless Peter Budaj. The goal electrified Rexall Place and put the Oilers up 3-2 in what would eventually result in an important victory.

With a two-point evening that included the winning goal in the final minute, Taylor Hall stole the show. Combined with teammates Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff, the trio made life miserable for the Avalanche. Hall in particular controlled the puck well and often used his speed and skilled puck-handling to rush up ice and gain the offensive zone. From defensive positioning to offensive production, it was Hall's night to shine.

Tom Gilbert has had a difficult start to season, but his game tonight showed flashes of the Gilbert that earned his keep in Edmonton; calm with the puck and under pressure, making smart decisions on the breakout, and getting involved in the offensive attack. Tonight Gilbert played a solid 24:59 and contributed with a pair of assists and a plus-one rating. Overall, both offensively and defensively, it was a strong evening for the 27-year old defenceman.

It didn't take long for the Oilers to establish a strong physical presence. Although the first period featured a number of crushing hits, none were as thunderous as J-F Jacques' blow on Ryan O'Byrne. The defenceman went back to collect the puck behind his net, while Jacques and Stortini both tracked him well. Stortini made the initial contact and then Jacques finished the job, nearly sending him through the glass and down the zamboni tunnel. It was an excellent hit that brought Rexall Place to life.

Other than the St. Louis Blues, Sam Gagner's offensive success is better against the Avalanche than any other Western Conference team. In 20 career games, Gagner has recorded nine goals and 17 points vs. Colorado; an impressive total for the young forward that was aided by Gagner's first career NHL hat-trick, which came against the same Avalanche on March 19, 2009 in an 8-1 victory.

"Whether we scored or not, we were going to have some pressure down there. I just tried to find a soft spot in front of the net, and Mr. Clutch himself found me so that was good."

- Taylor Hall on his game-winning goal vs. Colorado 

Saturday, November 27 vs. San Jose
  8:00 p.m. MT (CBC / 630 CHED)

In only the second Saturday night home game of the season, the Oilers and Sharks battle at Rexall Place with the hometown club looking to extend its winning streak to two.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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