Oilers melt Avalanche
|Oilers forward Gilbert Brule lifts a backhand on Avalanche netminder Craig Anderson. (photo: Getty Images)
by Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
Four powerplay goals were the difference as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on Sunday night.
The altitude seemed to have little effect on the Oilers as they opened the game with a feisty five minutes, tallying seven shots on Craig Anderson before the Avalanche could test Nikolai Khabibulin
At that time, a hit by Colorado's Marek Svatos on call-up Liam Reddox
resulted in a shoving match near Khabibulin's net and a boarding penalty to the Avs winger. Only 23 seconds into the powerplay, Mike Comrie stationed himself on Anderson's doorstep and tapped across a rebound to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
The powerplay tables turned less than a minute after the goal when Patrick O'Sullivan and Jason Strudwick
took overlapping penalties, resulting in a 56-second five-on-three for the Avalanche.
Colorado notched its first shot of the game on the first man-advantage, and although Khabibulin outlasted that two minutes, a fourth shot during Strudwick's infraction found its way through. With exactly 12 minutes on the clock, Svatos redeemed himself by wristing the puck home to tie the game at one.
Near the period's midway point, young defenceman Taylor Chorney
blocked a shot with his face, prompting gasps from the crowd and quick reaction from Oilers trainer Ken Lowe. Chorney left the ice under his own power and returned to the bench after a quick visit to the locker room.
The penalties kept coming as the period progressed, and so did the powerplay goals. On Edmonton's second powerplay, defenceman Tom Gilbert
teed up at the blueline and sunk a slapshot to renew his club's lead. Four minutes later, Dustin Penner
doubled it by fooling Anderson from the inside of the right face-off circle.
The Avs were called for too many men in the final minute, ensuring the Oilers would start the second period up two goals, two men, and four shots.
Penalty killers and goaltenders prevented further scoring in the early part of the middle frame. The Avs hit 20 shots a few minutes in, but it would take 21 to get another past Khabibulin. At the five-minute mark, T.J. Hensick's shot was deflected into the net to get Colorado within one.
Good scoring chances for both sides were diffused by big saves and blocked shots in the middle part of the period. The Avalanche attained attempt number 30 with four minutes left on the clock; the Oilers were 10 shy.
Paul Stastny almost tied the game in the final few minutes of the period when he had a wide open net but Jason Strudwick
batted the puck away from the yawning cage to preserve Edmonton's one-goal lead.
Despite trailing on the shot clock, Edmonton held on to its one-goal lead through 40 minutes.
Edmonton made it a two-goal lead 4:44 into the third with their fourth powerplay goal of the night. Ryan Potulny one-timed a blast that made it past Anderson for the goal.
However, the Avs responded shortly after to make it a one-goal game once again. During a goalmouth scramble, Khabibulin dove to poke the puck out of harm's way but it went right on the stick of David Jones who deposited it into the open net to make it 4-3.
Edmonton had its sixth powerplay opportunity of the night about 12 minutes into the third. Like the previous chances, they had plenty of great chances to score their fifth powerplay goal of the night but Colorado's penalty killing came up big.
Action was spirited and went end-to-end after the penalty expired. The best chance came on the stick of Liam Reddox
as he broke in on a two-on-one with Andrew Cogliano
. Reddox elected to take the puck deep and tried to beat Anderson through the five hole. However, the Avs netminder stood tall.
Edmonton didn't capitalize on their seventh man advantage - a Colorado two-man advantage - but shortly after it expired, they scored to make it 5-3.
Reddox picked up the puck in the corner, spun and backhanded it on goal. Andrew Cogliano
was in front and he banged home the rebound.
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