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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Avalanche

by Karmela Arocena / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers came into Saturday's game looking to snap a five-game losing streak against a Colorado team that had one only once in their last 21 games.  Providing a boost was the return of Theo Peckham to the lineup; it was his first game since suffering an injury on Feb. 27 against Boston. 

A slow start that resulted in puck possession problems was the story of the first period as the team seemed to be fighting to keep the puck on their sticks.  As a result, Matt Duchene was able to make his way through the Oilers' defence and slip one past Khabibulin to make it 1-0 for the Avs.  The second period seemed to go better for the Oilers as Jordan Eberle scored his 16th goal of the season on the powerplay after Cody McLeod was assessed a double minor for high-sticking Teemu Hartikainen.  Unfortunately, the Avalanche restored their one goal lead after Kevin Porter scored his 13th of the season late in the second.

With just 3:50 left in regulation, an Oilers team that spent the third period dominating play was finally able to tie the game after Foster tapped a Linus Omark pass past Brian Elliott.  In OT, a hooking penalty to Jonas Holas put the Oilers up a man for the final 1:23 of the extra time.  Despite many good chances in the dying seconds of OT, the Oilers were unable to capitalize with the man advantage and the game went to a shootout.

The shootout started with the first three shooters for each team being stopped by the opposing goalie.  The game ended in the 4th round after Ryan Stoa of the Avalanche was the only one to beat the goalie in the shootout.

Nikolai Khabibulin made his second consecutive start, stopping 25 shots of the 27 shots he faced.  He also stopped three of four shooters in the shootout.

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

An up and down game for both teams was the story tonight as the teams kept trading goals.  However, in the third period, as well as OT, the Oilers were pressing hard and dominated, peppering the Avs with shots.  But it was a lost opportunity in OT that sealed the Oilers' fate.  With just seconds left in extra time, the Oilers were on the powerplay with many quality chances.  Being unable to score with the extra man in OT proved to be costly.  The two teams eventually were led to a shootout where the Avs were able to just squeak by with the 3-2 win.

48 Edmonton ended the night with a 48% success rate in the faceoff circle. Andrew Cogliano took the brunt of the faceoff load, recording a 50% success rate in the amazing 26 draws he took.
22 The Colorado Avalanche were willing to sacrifice the body tonight.  The Avs blocked 22 shots tonight, more than double of the Oilers' 10.
4 After tonight's shootout loss where the Oilers' outshot the Avalanche 33-27, their record when outshooting their opponent is now 4-12-2.
8 Magnus Paajarvi was on a mission with the puck tonight.  The Swedish rookie recorded 8 shots on goal against the Avalancge, the most of anyone on either team.

Kurtis Foster
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 4

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

Linus Omark
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +1 0

Brian Elliott
31 33 2 65:00 .939

Nikolai Khabibulin
25 27 2 64:46 .926

Ryan O'Byrne - D

25:37 - 0P, E rating

Liam Reddox - LW

23:24 - 0P, +1 rating

It took a double minor to Colorado's Cody McLeod before things started to turn for the Oilers.  After Teemu Hartikainen received a high-stick that drew blood, the Oilers found themselves with a long, four minute powerplay. With the extra man, Eberle walked off the boards with the puck, deked past Ryan O'Byrne, and slipped a backhanded shot topshelf past Brian Elliott, tying the game.

With the Oilers missing their top three scorers due to injury, the rest of the team had to step up to fill the missing spots.  Kurtis Foster delivered tonight offensively.  Foster assisted on Eberle's powerplay goal in the second, and then notched one of his own at 16:10 of the third which tied the game and allowed the Oilers to force OT.  In his 20:27 of ice-time, Foster recorded four shots on goal and was a +1 on the night.  His efforts were recognized as he was the first star of the evening.

Teemu Hartikainen is taking full advantage of the Oilers' injury situation, and is using his time as a call-up to impress.  In just his second NHL game, Hartikainen played solid, not looking out of place in the high-speed pace of the NHL.  The Finnish forward used his size well in the game, where throwing hits and playing hard is part of his game.  His 17:20 of ice-time (1:39 of which was spent on the powerplay) is indicative of that he is well utilized for the Oilers.

Just 11 seconds after puck drop, a spirited fight between Ryan Jones and Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson broke out.  The flurry started at the centre line where Jones and Johnson dropped the gloves and started throwing punches.  Equipment was flying everywhere as gloves and helmets were being pulled off by the combatants.  Eventually Jones got a good hold of Johnson and landed a couple of good right hooks.  After connecting on a few good punches, Jones was able to send Johnson to the ice.

Shots on goal were a clear indicator of how the Oilers played throughout tonight's game.  Through the first 40 minutes of play, the Oilers were being outshot 21-13.  In the final 20 minutes, they recorded 16 shots on goal, more than they had in the previous two periods.  Their effort showed on the scoreboard as Foster was able to tie the game with 3:50 left in regulation.

"We try to win every night. We knew that if we came out hard in the third we'd give ourselves a chance, and if we came out in the third we'd get a chance in the shootout."

- First star of the night Kurtis Foster on his team's ability to battle back and force OT and a shootout.

Tuesday, March 22 at Nashville
  6:00pm MDT (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

The Oilers hope to snap a six-game losing streak on the road on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators. The game is the first of a short, two-game road trip for the team.

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