GAME DAY: Lightning strike down Oilers in 3-2 shootout loss
LIGHTNING 3 - OILERS 2 (SO)Ladislav Smid scored late in the third period to force overtime but the Edmonton Oilers ultimately fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night.
Tom Pyatt led the way for the Lightning with a pair of goals while Nikolai Khabibulin made 17 saves in his first game back in Tampa Bay since the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.
Linus Omark scored the other goal for Edmonton.
AT THE MORNING SKATETampa, FL - The Edmonton Oilers look to continue what has been an impressive string of four games without a regulation loss (3-0-1) tonight when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The game will feature a couple of familiar faces in net. For the Oilers, Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start -- his first game back in Tampa since Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.
"We need to make sure our goaltenders both can play, Dubby's had some pretty good activity the last few games. Khabby is a top notch goaltender. It's nice to be able to line up the dots where he can come back here and play where he won a Stanley Cup, obviously," said Renney. "Bottom line is we want a good performance tonight from our goaltender"
For Khabibulin, the arena -- and the city itself, in fact -- brings back a lot of great memories.
"It feels good. It brings back a lot of memories. I'm pretty excited," he said. "As soon as you land. The airport's the same. You land and get on the bus. A lot of stuff is still the same. I remember a lot."
The Cup Finals were almost eight years ago for Khabibulin. It is an oddity that he has only been to the building once and never played a game until tonight.
"I was here only once," said Khabibulin. "I didn't play that game. And a couple other times I had an injury and didn't make the trip."
In his one chance to play, then head coach Trent Yawney felt it would be better if the veteran netminder didn't play as the Blackhawks were doing back-to-back nights.
"We had a back-to-back and the coach said to sit back, relax and enjoy the night. I said okay."
His one chance to have played the Bolts with the Oilers was in 2009 but he was already injured and out for the season at that point.
"I didn't think it would take that long but it is what it is. Finally I get to start a game here."
Former Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson gets the nod for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay comes into the game banged up, but Renney cautioned that the Oilers cannot take them lightly.
"First thing you do is circle four or five names that are outstanding hockey players in this league period. They're world class players to say the least and if we don't pay attention to that first and foremost and bring a level of respect at least where you punch the clock, you're in trouble anyway," the head coach began.
"Play hard, pay attention to our own game plan let them have to adjust to whatever we might be doing because honestly at this stage of the season it's all about us."
Andy Sutton makes his return to the lineup for the Oilers after missing a pair as a healthy scratch.
"It's great," said Sutton. "There's not that many games left. It's always great to be in the lineup."
Despite being the odd-man out every now and then due to the fact the team is carrying eight defencemen, Sutton has maintained a positive outlook.
"It's something I've always worked on. Got a great life and have to keep things in perspective. I'm 37 years old and still in the NHL which is awesome."
Renney added that having a player like Sutton he can work into the lineup is a bonus but said he wanted to ensure that everyone on the team is fully earning their ice time.
"You want your guys to experience this down the stretch and realize how much they dislike playing in a position outside the playoffs and how hard they have to play and get acquainted to playing moving forward."
Theo Peckham draws out.
Taylor Hall (concussion) did not skate with the team today, neither did Lennart Petrell (groin). Linus Omark draws back in for Petrell.
For Hall, it's just part of the process says coach Renney.
"Well he's not ready clearly, so the bottom line is having him with us gives us the chance to evaluate it on a day to day basis and that's pretty much where we are with him, it's day-to-day.".
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com