Second period goals by Cam Barker and Andy Sutton put the Oilers ahead 2-0, while sophomore 'tender Devan Dubnyk stopped 40 shots as the Oilers edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 Friday night at Pepsi Center.
Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly scored the home side's lone goal, but Oilers captain Ryan Smyth responded 27 seconds later to secure the win.
Colorado's Daniel Winnick got the game's best chance three minutes in when Theo Peckham struggled to contain the Avs centre on a dangerous rush. Starter Devan Dubnyk came up big, turning No. 34 and three other Avalanche shooters aside by the period's eight-minute mark.
With 10:06 on the clock, the Avalanche were put on the power-play when Ladislav Smid was charged with holding the stick. Colorado's 8-3 shot advantage and red-hot 30.8-percent success on the PP looked to orchestrate the icebreaker.
David Jones tested Dubnyk with a late chance on goal, but the Oilers' sophomore 'tender stopped it with ease.
Moments later, Taylor Hall burst across centre and into the Avalanche zone, penetrating coverage as he danced around David Jones; No. 4 skated in alone but ripped a bullet high and wide, keeping the Oilers off the scoreboard as the period wound down.
At 18:45, the Avalanche almost broke the scoreless draw. A routine dump-in took an irregular bounce in the corner, causing the puck to pop into the slot where a wide-open Gabriel Landeskog stared down the empty cage. Dubnyk scrambled back in time to make a circus-like denial, preserving the 0-0 tie.
With 20 minutes in the books, the home side held a slim 11-9 edge in shots.
Cam Barker was charged with interference at 3:25, putting the Avalanche on their second power-play opportunity. A mad, late-sequence scramble caused Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid and Eric Belanger to collapse to the ice with Dubnyk, but the Avalanche's two attempts were unable to cross the goal line.
Moments later at 5:56, Colorado's Landeskog was flagged, putting the Oilers on another man-advantage chance.
With one second remaining in the rookie's minor, Barker, making amends, danced through the Avalanche D and in goal on Varlamov. No. 13 deposited the puck with a backhand upstairs, bar-in to secure a 1-0 lead for the visitors.
Although the Oilers trailed 24-13 on the shot clock, a strong rush helped propel the orange and blue to a 2-0 lead at 14:20. Waiting to complete a change, Ryan Smyth stopped inside the Avs line where he located a streaking Lennart Petrell. The 27-year-old rookie cranked a slapper that was tipped in by Andy Sutton at the crease's lip.
Colorado's Jay McClement was assessed a hooking minor at 14:58, sending the Oilers to another 5-on-4 chance as they searched for a stranglehold. The Oilers peppered Varlamov with several pinball-like chances, but were unable to extend to a 3-0 advantage.
A late-period elbowing call to Chuck Kobasew put the Oilers back on the PP (the team's third). 50 seconds would be carried into the third as the Oilers skated to the locker room with a 2-0 lead; the Avalanche were in possession of a 25-14 edge in shots with 40 minutes expired.
3:23 into the period, Andy Sutton leveled Paul Stastny as he skated with his head down across the line and into the Oilers end. The 6'6", 245-pound rearguard was then challenged by Colorado's Shane O'Brien; the two engaged in a spirited minute-long bout in which the lumbering Oiles D man won.
In addition, Sutton picked up an elbowing minor while O'Brien was charged with an instigator as the teams skated at even-strength.
Cam Barker continued his dominance of the scoresheet at 4:35 when he was assessed a cross-checking minor. The home side's third attempt turned lucky, as Ryan O'Reilly scooped a loose puck, snapping it up high on Dubnyk to bring the Avs within one at 5:42.
27 seconds later, the Oilers responded to restore the visitors' two-goal lead. A goal-line scramble saw Varlamov stone the Oilers on three separate chances, but Ryan Smyth's dogged determination allowed the puck to slide home, putting the orange and blue up 3-1 at 6:09.
Penalties to both teams doled power-play opportunities at the third progressed. With the Avalanche up 34-16 in shots, a high-sticking minor to Ryan Smyth put the home side back on the advantage as they looked to pull within one once more. The Oilers' top-end PK killed the chance, keeping the team's two-goal lead on the board.
The Avalanche pulled Varlamov with 90 seconds remaining; Colorado D man Kyle Quincey cranked the cross-bar with about 45 seconds on the clock, but that's as close as the Avs would come as the Oilers pulled out all the stops, winning 3-1 in Denver.
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