Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle combined to record seven points, while Nikolai Khabibulin was stellar, stopping 28 shots as the Edmonton Oilers cruised to a commanding 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche Friday night at Rexall Place.
Following a 30-second sequence in which the Oilers were pinned in their own end, Jeff Petry was assessed a cross-checking minor at 1:19. The Avs' third-ranked, 20.6-percent power-play stalled, however, when Oilers 'tender Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside three shots to preserve the scoreless tie.
That appeared to spark the home side, as a simlar push at the other end helped the Oilers gain a man-advantage opportunity of their own; ex-Oiler Jan Hejda was charged with interference at 5:16. Sam Gagner did was the visitors couldn't, driving hard to the net and cashing 52 seconds into the PP, putting the Oilers up 1-0 on his team's fourth shot.
Having already established a 1-for-1 success rate, the Oilers went back to a 5-on-4 situation when Avs defenceman Kyle Quincey picked up a slashing minor at 7:15. This time, the orange and blue were unable to record a shot, let alone a goal; but they did carry a 6-5 shot lead into the period's latter half.
With 36.8 seconds on the clock, the Oilers potted another to take a 2-0 lead. Eric Belanger passed to Ben Eager in the slot who, with hammering persistence at the goal-mouth, bounced home the Oilers' second of the night.
With 20 minutes in the books, an 11-9 edge in shots helped propel the home side to its two-goal advantage.
The second began much like the opening period did, with an Oiler (Anton Lander) being sent to the box to serve a holding minor at :36. Like the Avs' previous attempt, a goal could not be scored on the one shot directed at Khabibulin.
The 38-year-old veteran was beaten moments later, mind you. At 3:29, Daniel Winnick's wide-side snapshot grazed the mesh and dribbled wide, bouncing back behind the goal and into danger on the other side; Jay McClement pounced, beating Colten Teubert to the scene and sliding the puck past Khabibulin to secure his fourth of 2011-12.
The Oilers killed their third man-disadvantage when Theo Peckham served a holding minor at 5:31. As the penalty expired, the Avs were charged once again as Brandon Yip was flagged for interference, but the Oilers were unable to make good on their latest opportunity.
The penalty box doors continued to swing at 9:58 when Colorado's Kyle Quincey chopped Ryan Jones' stick in half. With intact tools in hand, the Oilers regained the two-goal advantage. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins curled from the side wall, passing to Jordan Eberle at the near circle in a play that's become so routine; No. 14 quickly corralled the puck and sniped it 14-hole on Semyon Varlamov to put the Oilers up 3-1 at 10:36.
With about seven minutes to play, Khabibulin came up big to preserve his club's two-goal lead. Looking to notch his second of the night, Winnick was sprung loose on a breakaway. The veteran netminder splashed on all fours, stopping the initial attempt and both rebounds to keep the Oilers up by a pair.
Late in the period, the Oilers choreographed another beauty. With 2.5 seconds on the clock, Nugent-Hopkins broke in with Gagner on a 2-on-1. RNH's cross-ice pass connected and No. 89 wasted no time, releasing a bullet upstairs to put the Oilers up 4-1 on the scoreboard and 25-20 in shots as the buzzer sounded.
Ben Eager continued his strong night as the period reached the six-minute mark, peppering the Avs' goalie with several shots and a goal-mouth drive, but the attempts were cleared as the game's 4-1 score remained.
Colten Teubert, back in the lineup with Andy Sutton serving a suspension, made his presence known as the period's 11-minute mark approached, leveling Colorado's Chuck Kobasew with a thunderous hit in his own end, giving him a team-leading fourth of the night.
The remaining minutes elapsed without incident as the Oilers completed the game with a 4-1 win and 35-29 edge on the shot clock.
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