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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Wild

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Despite a 36-shot output, Niklas Backstrom shut the door and held the Oilers to only two goals en route to a 4-2 victory for the Wild. Kyle Brodziak, Brent Burns and Guillaume Latendresse scored for the Wild, while Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff tallied for the Oilers.

After quickly jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in tonight's contest, the Oilers replied with a powerplay marker to bring them within one midway through the first. Just over a minute later, Guillaume Latendresse replied and restored the two-goal Wild lead. While the Oilers were able to bring the game to within a goal once more late in the game, the two-goal deficit for most of the night proved to be the difference maker.

16 Theo Peckham has now blocked a total of 16 shots through five games this season which is good enough for a share of 6th place in the NHL.
60 The Oilers were on the winning edge of the faceoff battle tonight, which is a first this season. 60% of the draws were won by Edmonton, with Sam Gagner leading the way with 72% of his draws won.
36 While the Oilers had struggled in getting pucks to the net recently, that wasn't the case tonight. They were able to muster 36 shots on goal; unfortunately, Niklas Backstrom had an answer for most.
3 Edmonton hopes to halt its current three-game losing streak at home on Saturday night vs. San Jose.

Kyle Brodziak
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +2 3

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
0 0 0 -1 2

Guillaume Latendresse
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 2

Niklas Backstrom
36 34 2 60:00 .944

Nikolai Khabibulin
25 22 3 58:08 .880

Brent Burns - D

23:15 - 1G, 1A, +2 rating

Ryan Whitney - D

27:09 - 2A, -1 rating

With the Oilers finding themselves down 2-0 early, they needed a quick response. A pair of unsuccessful powerplays appeared to drain the momentum, but a quick strike on a third opportunity got them right back in the game. Some nice puck movement resulted in Ales Hemsky receiving the puck on the half-boards and a wide open net to shoot for, with goaltender Niklas Backstrom well out of position; he capitalized and the Oilers were back within one midway through the first.

Edmonton native and former Oiler Kyle Brodziak had a strong night in another return to Rexall Place. The bulky centerman scored two first period markers that put the Oilers down early and set the tone for tonight's Northwest Division matchup. Brodziak was a factor in more ways than one, as he played a solid 12:49 of solid defensive hockey to help his club maintain its leads all night

Taylor Hall played perhaps his best game as an Oiler and in the NHL tonight. Although the speedy and talented winger was unable to record a point, he was buzzing with plays on the rush all night long. Oilers fans were brought to the edge of their seats with his multiple scoring chances that were unable to be cashed. While his play didn't result on the scoresheet offensively, the momentum and offensive pressure was the catalyst for Edmonton's attack for much of the night.

It's become a reoccuring theme to be featuring Theo Peckham in the Hit of the Game slot, but he definitely earned it again tonight. While shots were aplenty in the second period, the score remained the same as the Oilers trailed. Antti Miettinen chipped the puck into the Oilers zone, where Peckham caught him trying to slip by. Peckham laid his shoulder into Miettinen as he went flying towards the side-boards, with his helmet going in the opposite direction.

Ryan Whitney continues to be a force on the Oilers blueline in this young season. The powerful defenceman is currently tied for 10th in the NHL with an average of 26:09 of ice-time. Tonight, Whitney bettered that average with 27:09 against the Wild.

"He was unbelievable tonight. It's too bad he couldn't come away with a few goals at least; he had a lot of grade A scoring chances and just barely missed. That's something for him to build off of and gain some confidence from, so hopefully he keeps going. "

Sam Gagner on Taylor Hall's performance tonight.

Saturday October 23 vs. San Jose
  8:00 p.m. MT (CBC / 630 CHED)

After starting the season with an impressive 2-0 record, the Oilers have fallen in three consecutive decisions and find themselves below .500 for the first time in 2010-11. The Oilers will be looking to get back on track against the visiting San Jose Sharks Saturday night.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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