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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Maple Leafs

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

A flat second period allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to score twice, widening the gap to 3-1 as the two teams entered the final frame. Edmonton was unable to respond offensively, as the visitors cruised to a decisive 4-1 victory Tuesday night at Rexall Place.

Jordan Eberle scored the Oilers' lone goal of the evening, while fellow rookie Taylor Hall had a season-high eight shots on goal but was unable to record a point in the loss. Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the net with another strong outing, but the barrage of Leafs chances ultimately buried the club in its second consecutive defeat.

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

A second period goal by the Maple Leafs put the visitors up 2-1 for most of the middle frame, but the game was essentially sealed at 17:38 with an unusual marker to put the Oilers down by a pair. With Nikolai Khabibulin unable to corral a point shot, the puck ping-ponged around in the crease as the netminder searched for the puck. Jason Strudwick attempted to assist, but his efforts were nullified when he inadvertently tapped the puck into his own net. The goal put the Oilers down 3-1 and sapped all energy from the home side.

42 The Oilers won 47% of the draws tonight. Sam Gagner led the way for his club with a 7-6, 54% outing.
3 Edmonton has been its own worst enemy of late. A total of only three second period shots allowed the Maple Leafs to gather some momentum, including some additional markers on the scoreboard, as the middle frame wrapped up.
23 Puck management continues to be a bit of a sore spot, as the Oilers committed a total of 23 giveaways tonight; many of which occurred in the offensive zone.
22 While much of the game didn't go the way the Oilers had hoped, the physical game stood out. The Oilers outhit the Maple Leafs by a 22-17 margin tonight.

Phil Kessel
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 6

J-S Giguere 
24 23 1 59:58 .958

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
0 0 0 -1 8

J-S Giguere
24 23 1 59:58 .958

Nikolai Khabibulin
34 30 4 58:41 .882

Francois Beauchemin - D

22:24 - 0P, +1 rating

Ryan Whitney - D

26:22 - 1A, +1 rating

Late in the first period when the game was tied 1-1, the Oilers were pinned in their own zone for an extended period of time. A number of shots could have provided the Leafs with a lead heading into the first intermission, but Khabibulin stood tall. No save was more impressive than a sliding stop on Toronto's Chris Versteeg in the final minute. In what appeared to be a sure goal, Khabibulin slid across in a diving effort to snag the puck from the air as it headed toward the back of the net. Khabibulin's incredible save kept the game knotted, at least for the time being.

With yet another new defensive partner (Jason Strudwick) on his pairing, top defenceman Ryan Whitney came to play once again. The strong, offensive blueliner played 26:22 and recorded one assist on the night. In addition, Whitney collected a hit and a blocked shot to his evening resume, and exited Rexall Place with the team's only +1 rating. While the result wasn't as desired, Whitney did his part to lead his team with another fine outing.

Even though a barrage of second period penalties by Edmonton limited the dynamic forward's ice-time, Taylor Hall was one of the Oilers' most productive players in terms of creating offence. Although Hall was held pointless on the evening, several golden scoring chances were turned aside by the hot play of Toronto netminder J-S Giguere. Hall ended the night an impressive eight shots on goal to lead his team easily in this regard, in addition to one hit, one blocked shot, and a pair of takeaways.

It was the bout everyone knew was coming, although Colton Orr's opponent was still to be determined. It was Zack Stortini who stepped up with 7:41 remaining in the second period. The two went toe-to-toe for well over a minute, chucking bombs and grappling in what had to be an exhausting effort for both parties. The two landed several shots early, while the middle portion of the fight was fairly even. Orr got the decision with a late surge as he landed a few jabs on the fatigued Stortini.

Leafs vs. Oilers History:

The Oilers record for most goals in one period is seven. Edmonton accomplished this against Toronto on February 19, 1985 when the Oilers defeated the Maple Leafs 9-4. This game also featured the most points ever scored in one period by the team; in the second period, the Oilers put up 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists).

"It's definitely frustrating when you can't put it in, but at the same time it means you're creating some chances and doing some decent things out there."

Taylor Hall on his game & the loss to the Maple Leafs

Thursday, December 16 vs. Columbus
  7:30 pm MT (SN-EDM / 630 CHED)

With the team's six-game point streak now distant in the rearview mirror, the Oilers have fallen in two consecutive decisions. The Oilers will get one final opportunity on this six-game homestand to turn things around before a pre-holiday road trip begins.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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