Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins responded to a question on whether or not Sam Gagner's placement on the fourth line was to send a message to the centre who has struggled offensively lately.
"I talked to Sam earlier in the day and let him know where I was coming from and why my decision was made," said Eakins. "He understands and knows he's got to do some things better. It's two-fold; it was partly his play but it was probably more the play of (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and (Mark) Arcobello in last night's game (against Boston). I'm not worried about Sam. He's a character guy and he's going to rebound."
Gagner has 11 points in 21 games this season.
With the Oilers down 3-1 in the second period, Luke Gazdic was hoping to find a way to help get his team back in the game.
"I wasn't really running around looking for it but we were down 3-1 and they were rolling over us at home. It's not the way it's supposed to go here so I thought we needed a bit of a spark," Gazdic remarked. "There wasn't a better guy that I found myself on the ice with and thought the team needed that and I thought it helped."
Coach Eakins felt that the fight did help rally the squad and overall he liked what he saw from the fourth line tonight.
"It definitely got us going," Eakins began. "It never hurts to have one of their players off the ice for five minutes. And the other thing is, Luke was good at finishing his checks. He made some good plays inside his zone to get the puck out, he was responsible with the puck, putting it deep. I liked his game. For parts in the second period, I started running their line against Krejci's line and they were doing quite well."
Perron played a team-high 23:20 and not only had two goals, he had six shots and two hits. He also had two of his shots blocked and three other attempts that missed the net.
"He is a guy that you want to rub off on the rest of the group," Eakins stated. "I know that the group is taking notes because you hear it on the bench when he's on the ice, the things that he's doing."
Mark Arcobello played 14:10 and was 65% in the faceoff circle including a handful of draws versus the always-potent Patrice Bergeron. Arcobello led the team with five hits on the night.
"Tonight, Arcobello was the same thing. Winning battles against Chara, Arco was. That's the level of compete that we need out of everyone."
Nail Yakupov has struggled to find an offensive rhythm this season. Aside from a stretch of five games, in mid-November, in which Yakupov scored six points in six games, the 20-year-old skilled winger has not consistently contributed to the stat sheet. He has five goals and six assists in 30 games this season. However, last night Yakupov might have had a game he can build off of.
Against Carolina last night, the forward finished the game with two points, a goal and an assist. It was the first time all season that Yakupov has scored an even-strength goal. His previous four were all on the power play. It was also only his second time all season to tally a multi-point night. His previous two-point night was on November 19, against Columbus, amidst that aforementioned six-game stretch.
Yakupov was pleased with the results last night, not only for himself but also for the team who managed to get the win.
"I felt good actually, and I think everyone felt pretty good after the game when you get two points," he said.
Yakupov has recently been placed on a line with Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall. Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media that it is his hope that Hall can get Yakupov going offensively. It seemed, at least for the start of last night's game, that Yakupov was definitely benefiting from his linemates.
His goal was courtesy of a nice feed by Hall from the boards in the first period.
"It's good for me. I had pretty good help and it was a good play by (Hall) and everybody who was on the ice. Hall made a good pass and I just better shoot that thing and put it in."
Yakupov has a lot of respect for his fellow former first overall pick, as well as Gagner.
"(Hall's) a great player, has great speed and I think I've got to use my speed too when we skate together, kind of swing around. We get more chances on the rush and I think it's pretty easy to play with that speed. We have a good centre, Gagner moves the puck pretty well when we play in the middle. He sees the ice and gives us a good chance and good speed…"
Yakupov moved well last night and had a couple of other chances that could have easily turned into goal opportunities. One of the bigger chances was when Yakupov ringed a shot off of the inside of a post and out. From now on the forward knows just what to do from that area of the ice next time; just shoot it.
"I just hit the post. It was a good pass again by Hall and Gagner. I've just got to use my shot. It you're around the net, like a few metres from the net, you've got to shoot it… I've got to shoot it and I'll try next time to score from there again."
Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry skated again today as he hopes to be cleared for game action following a hard collision with between his head and the glass against Calgary on Saturday night.
Now it is Wednesday and Petry says there are no lingering effects of that hit.
"No headaches, nothing, no symptoms," he said. "I skated yesterday, went out early and was cleared to skate and do the pre-game skate, skated, did a little bit after and went through the whole skate today."
Petry is hoping to be cleared and ready to go tomorrow night against Boston.
Ilya Bryzgalov and Jeff Petry skated before practice. Boyd Gordon, Corey Potter and Ryan Smyth all did not skate.
7 D are at practice... projected pairings: Nick Schultz-Justin Schultz, Ference-Larsen, Belov-Petry, Marincin— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 11, 2013
The Oilers are happy to escape tonight's game with a victory and the two points. Particularly because of the strange way the game played out.
"It was a weird game," said forward Jordan Eberle. "I thought we played extremely well in the first and a little bit in the second. Then we completely took our foot off the gas pedal. That five minute power play in the third period, just no sync and not the way we want to play. You can't be happy with that third period. We found a way to win. We got the two points."
Eberle pointed to the series of events that ended the game as a further example of how the game played out.
"It's funny how it works," said Eberle. "We go down one way (in overtime) and I almost tip it into my own net on the backcheck on the 2-on-1, then coming back you score a goal. We found a way to win."
The fast start by the Oilers which included three goals by the team's three former first overall picks, was key to the Oilers outlasting the pesky Hurricanes as they battled back.
"We got dominated in the first period," said Carolina Head Coach Kirk Muller. "They're a skilled team. We sat back and watched and they took it to us. We said after the first period, 'Guys, we've got to get involved here, we've got to play our game, we've got to get involved and get pucks going their way. I thought in the second period we had a much better period, we kind of just slowly pecked away."
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins team is 7-3-1 in their last 11 games. They've slowly began to negate their rough start to the 2013-14 season by steadily improving. Despite the teams new found success, Eakins says he does not expect the fans to be overly excited about the team just yet.
"I don't expect people to be jumping up and down, if that's our record over the last little bit," said Eakins. "The thing that we've done to ourselves is we've put ourselves in such a large hole that even when you are playing well over a stretch, everybody wakes up in the morning… if they're opening up their newspaper or reading the newspaper on the internet, they look at the standings. Even a game like tonight when you put two in the bank, the standings still have you where you're at and that's the hole we have to climb out of.
"We've done this to ourselves, so I don't expect people to be jumping up and down with whatever the record you said it was. I'm very rarely cognizant, I'm just like, okay… what's next?"
Despite watching a 4-1 lead dwindle and eventually turn into a tied game at the end of regulation, the Oilers are not too concerned with the way they won the game. They are just happy to get the points.
"I'd love to have a win every night," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I don't care how we get them, that was two points. Would we like to end that game, 4-1? Absolutely, but the important thing is there's two points in the bank."
After a rough start to the season the Oilers are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games, but the team is still last in the Western Conference with 25 points and 15 points back of Colorado in 8th place. The Oilers can not afford to be choosy when it comes to points.
"We're not getting ultra picky about points," said Oilers Captain Andrew Ference. "It's nice to get wins, but I think the focus really does have to be on the bigger picture of what we're trying to do here. We're trying to build a foundation for this team, this year and for years to come of playing the right way and making the right decisions on the ice as individuals. When we've done that, this whole year we've had success. We've had individual success where guys get to score more goals and have more fun and we've been more smooth in our own zone. Every time we get away from that and complicate things, it turns into a bit of a mess. We just have to continue to harp on that and not revert back to old habits as a team and as individuals."