Eric Belanger and Ben Eager each snapped season-long goalless droughts, but it wasn't enough as the Carolina Hurricanes surged ahead to overcome the Oilers with a 5-3 win Wednesday night at Rexall Place.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the other goal for the home side, while Devan Dubnyk stopped 28 shots in the loss.
Just 1:30 into the game, the Hurricanes almost orchestrated a goal when Ryan Whitney, Jeff Petry and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were all caught on the same side of the ice; with an open lane, Carolina's Jeff Skinner passed to Jussi Jokinen in the slot, but Devan Dubnyk came up big to preserve the scoreless tie.
With 12:17 remaining, the Hurricanes get did one past Dubnyk, but Chad Larose's tally was called back when it was deemed to have been kicked across the line.
While the orange and blue struggled to generate shots on goal (notching only three as the period's 10-minute mark approached), they were able to engage in the physical game. Theo Peckham rocked Hurricanes pivot Jiri Tlusty with a vicious open-ice check following an ill-advised suicide pass from teammate Tomas Kaberle.
That appeared to spark the home side. At 10:33, Magnus Paajarvi's wraparound attempt was initially stopped, but a mad goal-mouth scramble propelled the puck across the line as Eric Belanger swooped in, putting the Oilers up 1-0 and giving No. 20 a marker to snap his season-long goalless drought.
With 1:24 to play, Ales Hemsky was charged with hooking, sending the Hurricanes' 28th-ranked 11.7-percent power-play to work. On the visitors' 10th shot, Skinner completed what he'd set up earlier, snapping a shot through Dubnyk to equal the score at 19:22.
With the score locked in a 1-1 set, the Hurricanes led 10-7 in shots with 20 minutes in the books.
Carolina went back to the man-advantage at 2:59 when Petrell was charged with hooking. The Hurricanes peppered the Oilers 'tender with three shots, one of which tickled the twine when Jamie McBain sniped a bullet into the top corner behind a stickless Dubnyk.
On the same sequence, Andy Sutton was assessed a boarding minor, putting the Hurricanes' 2-for-2 PP back on the ice. This time, the Oilers came up with a kill to quell the visitors' early-period onslaught.
Eric Staal turned the power-play tables at 8:41, providing the Oilers with an opportunity to cash the 2-2 goal. The home side was unable to corral the puck an maintain possession, succombing to the Hurricanes' 79-percent success rate when down a man.
The Hurricanes went up 3-1 with 8:13 on the clock. A cross-ice pass on the rush careened off Ladislav Smid's skate, sending Patrick Dwyer in alone on a 20-foot breakaway. Carolina's No. 39 made no mistake, depositing the puck on his backhand to secure the goal on his team's 16th shot.
Alexei Ponikarovsky picked up a tripping minor at 13:49, but it was the Hurricanes who made good on the ensuing two-minute sequence. Chad Larose broke in on a partial odd-man rush, sniping a shot far side on Dubnyk to put the visitors up by three.
The Oilers responded only nine seconds later, mind you. Petrell's long-range wrister was stopped by Ward, but Ben Eager was quick to the scene, pouncing on the rebound and sliding it past a diving Cam Ward to cut the Hurricanes' lead to 4-2.
With 40 minutes expired, the Hurricanes continued to lead by a pair and were up with a slim 19-17 edge in shots.
On the Hurricanes' 23rd shot, they regained their earlier-established three-goal advantage. A nice three-way passing play between Tim Gleason, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu allowed the 28-year-old to snipe home his ninth of the season, putting the visitors up 5-2 at 3:43.
WIth 12:41 on the clock, Theo Peckham bumbled the puck at the opposing blueline, setting the stage for sophomore Jeff Skinner to break in alone on a breakaway. No. 24 burst back and broke up the chance, but hauled the Hurricane down in the process. A penalty shot was awarded, but the 19-year-old's quick-shot attempt was turned aside.
Following a third unsuccessful power-play attempt, penalties to Eager and Andy Sutton (charging and boarding) put the Oilers down two men at 11:27. The Oilers were, however, able to kill the minors with ease.
Moments later, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it a game once more. The 18-year-old rookie took a no-look pass from Sam Gagner behind the net, tapping the puck past a disgruntled Ward to slice the lead and set the score at 5-3 at 31:21
A slashing minor assessed to Tom Gilbert 27 seconds later put the Oilers in a 4-on-5 situation for the fifth time. The Hurricanes extended to a 33-21 lead on the shot clock, but were unable to choreograph another on the scoreboard.
With 2:09 to play, Andy Sutton stepped up to deliver a bone-crushing open-ice hit on Skinner, sending him violently to the ice; a response came quickly, too, as Tim Gleason challenged the 14-year veteran in a brief dust-up. When the penalties were added and assessed, the Oilers were sent to a late-game PP.
Dubnyk was also pulled for an extra-attacker to make it a two-man advantage, but a goal couldn't be notched as the Oilers dropped a 5-3 decision to the Hurricanes.
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