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Under the Scope: Oilers vs Wild

by Karmela Arocena / Edmonton Oilers

After a road trip that saw the Oilers go 1-4-0, the team returned to Rexall Place Tuesday night hoping to record a victory against the Minnesota Wild.  Unfortunately, the Oilers came out on the losing end of a 4-1 game.

The game didn't start off well for the home team.  Less than four minutes in the Wild went up 2-0 with goals from Matt Cullen and Brent Burns.  The Oilers did seem to settle down after that, and Nikolai Khabibulin was able to keep the deficit at two for most of the game.  However, the Oilers powerplay still struggled through the first two periods, most significantly in the second where they were unable to score on a 5-on-3 over a minute long.

It was in the third period that things started to get interesting.  The Wild scored their third goal at 10:04 of the final frame.  A few minutes later, Theo Peckham and Wild forward Martin Havlat started to chirp and shove each other, but it was Zack Stortini and Brent Burns who dropped the gloves.  The sequence caused two fighting majors, two 10 minute misconducts, and two roughing minors.  Soon after, the Wild scored their fourth goal of the night on their ensuing powerplay.

Though the Oilers didn't come up with a win, Magnus Paajarvi's third period goal ended the Oilers 11 game powerplay goal drought.

Ales Hemsky left the game with a concussion and did not return.

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

Game Recap | Oilers This Week  | Post-Game Interviews Highlights  |  Post-Game Audio

The Oilers anemic powerplay continues to be a problem.  Midway through the second period, down 2-0, the Oilers had the opportunity to get within one after two Minnesota penalties resulted in a lengthy 5-on-3.  The Oilers were unable to score and Minnesota never looked back, winning the game 4-1.

50 The Oilers won 50% of the draws tonight. Sam Gagner posted a team best 80% efficiency rate in the face off dot, winning 8-2 draws,
11 It took 11 games and 45 powerplay opportunities before the Oilers found the back of the net with the man advantage.  Magnus Paajarvi's goal at 16:14 finally ended the streak.
4 Sacrificing the body was not on the agenda tonight for the Oilers.  The team only registered four blocked shots throughout the whole game, all of them coming in the third period.
13 Puck possesion was a clear issue for the Oilers.  The team had 13 giveaways, and only managed seven takeaways on the night.

Anton Khudobin
32 31 1 60:00 .969

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 1

Liam Reddox
G A P +/- Shots
0 0 0 E 1

Anton Khudobin
32 31 1 60:00 .969

Nikolai Khabibulin
28 25 3 58:11 .893

Nick Schultz - D

  22:16 - 0P, 2 PIM

Tom Gilbert - D

25:02 - 0P, -2 rating

With Linus Omark in the box for holding five minutes into the third, Reddox came up big on the penalty kill.  The Oilers forward skated with the puck from the defensize zone to the other end of the ice, and maneuvered expertly around two Minnesota players along the boards, shaving off precious time.  A few seconds later, he did the same thing on the other side of the ice.  The defensive effort ignited Rexall Place, leaving the crowd cheering for him as his shift ended.

Liam Reddox continues to be a reliable and dependable asset to the Oilers.  The 24-year-old forward played on the first powerplay unit with Ryan Jones and Andrew Cogliano and had an amazing shift in the third where he single handedly killed close to a minute off of an Oilers penalty.

Despite two early goals in the first period, Nikolai Khabibulin did do his best to keep his team in the game.  He didn't allow a goal for over 46 minutes after the Wild's second goal, allowing the Oilers an opportunity to play catch-up.  It was a few miscues and defensive lapses in the third that resulted in the lop-sided score.

With the Oilers down by three in the third, a few Oilers players started to get chippy.  At 12:02 in the third, Zack Stortini ended up in a good battle with Brent Burns.  The two players exchanged blows, making it an even fight.  In the end, both players ended up with 10 minute misconducts.

What's the significance of December 23, 2010?  Until tonight, it was the last time the Oilers scored a powerplay goal.  26 days ago Taylor Hall scored a powerplay goal in a 3-2 shootout loss in Los Angeles against the Kings.

"Yeah there were some missed opportunities. I felt that we moved it around pretty well.  We had a lot of chances and our breakouts were good, we got the puck in the zone and we moved it around and I guess that's all you can ask for from a powerplay and sure enough by the end we got one."

- Taylor Hall on the powerplay and finally scoring a powerplay goal.

Thursday, January 20 vs. Dallas
  7:00pm MT (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

The Oilers will continue their homestand Thursday night at Rexall Place against a Dallas Stars team that has won four straight games. 

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