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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Avalanche

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

It took only 14:49 of the opening period for the visitors to establish a commanding 3-0 lead over the hometown Oilers. The Oilers were able to stop the bleeding and respond with a strong second period, highlighted with a goal from rookie Taylor Hall -- his team-leading 12th of the season. On the back of momentum and an energized Rexall Place, the Oilers carried their push into the final frame where an additional two markers were added to Edmonton's total.

When it seemed the comeback was nearing perfection, the spotlight was stolen by Colorado's Craig Anderson as the game progressed into a shootout. The Avalanche goaltender stopped all three shots he faced in the skills competition, while Milan Hejduk added the only required tally to push the visitors to a 4-3 victory Thursday night.

Devan Dubnyk, who received his 10th start of the season tonight, was caught in the crossfire of another shootout effort. On the season, Dubnyk has now lost four shootout decisions, which has contributed to a 2-3-5 record overall.

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

With the Avalanche opening up a dominating 3-0 lead in the first period, it appeared that the game was headed in the direction of a blowout. Midway through the second period, Colorado had an opportunity to further expand their lead to 4-0 over the home side, but a deflected slapshot went off Dubnyk's far post to preserve the reachable disadvantage. Moments later, Sam Gagner found Taylor Hall at the side of the net as the Oilers scored to pull themselves within two. From this point forward, the Oilers took control of the game and eventually forced the game to a shootout that was ultimately lost.

37 The Oilers won 37% of the draws tonight. Dustin Penner led the way with a 7-4, 64% outing while Sam Gagner struggled mightily, as he posted a 3-15, 17% efficiency rate.
41 While the game featured its share of slow moments, physical play was a central theme on this night. In total, 41 hits were dished out (21 by Edmonton, 20 by Colorado).
17 Of the Oilers' 35 shots on goal tonight, Kurtis Foster took 10 of them. Even more amazingly, he missed on three and had four blocked. In total, Foster directed 17 shots on goal this evening.
5 The Oilers have now dropped five consecutive games and will be looking to rebound this Saturday against the provincial rival Calgary Flames.

Paul Stastny
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 5

Ales Hemsky
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 3

TJ Galiardi
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 2

Craig Anderson
35 32 3 64:25 .914

Devan Dubnyk
27 24 3 64:28 .889

Ryan O'Byrne - D

25:37 - 0P, -1 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

26:27 - 0P, -1 rating

The Oilers were down 3-0 midway through the second period and looked defeated, at times, as the team forced offensive plays in situations that should have been reconsidered. With some increasing momentum, the Oilers eventually got their first goal of the evening on a back of a terrific sequence that resulted in Taylor Hall's 12th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from defenceman Kurtis Foster, Sam Gagner controlled the puck and made a picture-perfect seeing-eye pass to find Hall at the back door. Hall wasted no time, as he one-timed the pass into the back of the net to make it a 3-1 game.

The return of Ales Hemsky has provided Andrew Cogliano with one of the greatest opportunities of the season. Playing alongside Hemsky and Dustin Penner has forced the speedster into an offensive role, to which he's accepted and flourished in to a great degree only two games into this newly created assignment. Tonight, Cogliano recorded one goal and one assist in 17:53 of ice-time. This new combination of skill could potentially be the turning point on Cogliano's season. So far, he's done exceptionally well and looks poised to bring more.

In the second period when the Oilers were in need of a spark, Ryan Jones delivered. The versatile forward came out flying in the middle frame, delivering serveral thunderous checks on his opponents to punish the Avalanche and inject some life into Rexall Place. At the end of the evening, Jones played 10:12 and was only credited with two hits, but the infusion of energy created something that the stats sheet couldn't record. Strong efforts on the penalty kill, in addition to his responsible five-on-five play resulted in a fantastic night for the gritty winger.

Theo Peckham continues to be a physical force on the blueline this season. The rugged defenceman added to his pre-game season total of 83 hits with three against the Avalanche. None were better than his rough treatment of Avalanche sophomore Matt Duchene early in the second period. After dishing the puck to a teammate behind the net, Duchene found himself in Peckham's sightline. Number 49 closed the gap and hammered Duchene heavily into the end-boards, and finished the play by throwing the forward violently into the ice.

Although it doesn't happen often, the Oilers haven't had much success this season when outshooting their opponent. In the six games that they have in 2010-11, the Oilers have posted a record of 1-4-2.

"I didn't see them do anything extraordinary other than they had us in our own end a couple of times where we really had some trouble containing. I thought we did a good job in the neutral zone, we were fine up ice, but we really had trouble in our own end."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the loss to Colorado

Saturday, January 1 vs. Calgary
  8:00pm MT (CBC / 630 CHED)

Now having dropped five consecutive contests, the Oilers hope a renewal of the Battle of Alberta will inspire a different result. The Oilers and Flames ring in 2011 with a Saturday night duel at Rexall Place.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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