OILERS 4, AVALANCHE 1
DENVER – Jordan Eberle led the way with a goal and two assists while goaltender Devan Dubnyk turned aside 33 shots as the Oilers snapped a six-game losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at the Pepsi Center.
Edmonton broke a frustrating winless streak lasting a half dozen games and tasted victory for the first time since an 8-2 drubbing of the provincial rival Calgary Flames back on April 3 at Rexall Place.
"I was just pissed off after losing six in a row," Eberle, the game's first star, said post-game. "Nothing was going in for me so it was nice to finally get things going. Competing, battling... We knew if we played hard in the corners we'd have success and that's what we did."
The final week of the regular season is a beast for the Oilers with five games in the span of seven days, starting with back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday and Monday at Rexall Place. The team knows it'll take more of the same to close out the season on a positive note.
"Tonight was a big night for us," veteran centre Sam Gagner said on Friday. "We just competed and stuck to the game plan all night. Now we have to continue that."
Here's a play-by-play recap of tonight's Oilers win:
Tonight's game is now underway with Semyon Varlamov starting in goal for Colorado and Devan Dubnyk for Edmonton. The Oilers starting lineup is Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry on defence, with Magnus Paajarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle up front.
The Oilers get a power play right off the bat as Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog is called for boarding just 30 seconds into the opening frame. Edmonton can't quite convert on the power play, but just three seconds after it expires, Taylor Hall makes an impressive single-handed effort, getting the puck to the net and lifting a shot past Varlamov to make it 1-0 for the visitors 2:33 into the game. For Hall, it's his team-leading 14th goal and 44th point.
Getting the first goal tonight was paramount for the Oilers, as they were on a seven-game streak of allowing their opponents to draw first blood. The last time Edmonton tallied the opening goal was on Monday, April 1 in a 4-1 victory at home against the Calgary Flames.
The Avalanche draw even with 12:31 to go in the frame as P.A. Parenteau beats Dubnyk with a one-timer from his backhand while falling to the ice. Corey Potter is then called for a tripping penalty a minute later to put Colorado on the power play.
The Oilers gain momentum and their lead back with 5:46 remaining in the opening frame as Eberle gets the puck in the slot, executes a slick spin-o-rama and fires a backhand on net. J-Schultz is streaking to the net and deflects the shot past Varlamov for his second point of the period and seventh goal of the year.
Dubnyk makes a series of big saves as the opening frame comes to an end with the Oilers hanging on to their 2-1 lead. Colorado is dominating in shots, however, with a 19-10 advantage.
The Oilers are dealt the first penalty of the middle frame with 17:07 on the clock as Mark Fistric is called for tripping. Edmonton kills the penalty and even gets a shorthanded rush from Shawn Horcoff, who zips a high wrist shot just over the Avs net.
Just 19 seconds after they got Fistric back from the penalty box, the Oilers extend their lead to 3-1 as Nick Schultz finds Eberle in the slot, and he makes a smooth drop-pass for Nugent-Hopkins for the crisp shot past Varlamov. For The Nuge, it's his fourth goal and 24th point of the season while Eberle tallies his second assist of the game.
The Oilers continue to pour on the offence as Eberle scores his first goal and third point of the game. Paajarvi circles behind the net with the puck and fires it to Fistric at the point. The rearguard puts a shot on net, which is blocked, but Eberle is there to corral the loose puck and beat Varlamov with a deke to make it 4-1.
The middle frame comes to an end with the Oilers maintaining their dominant 4-1 advantage over the Avs, with Colorado holding a 25-21 edge in shots on goal.
The final frame starts with a bit of a scary moment for the Oilers as Sam Gagner is taken hard into the side boards by Greg Zanon. The Colorado defender gets two minutes for boarding and Gagner is slow to get up but fortunately stays on the bench and in the game.
Another Oilers player is shaken up by an Avs hit as Cody McLeod sticks the knee out on Fistric and gets two minutes for interference. Fistric skates off the momentary pain and is no worse for wear.
Hall left the Oilers bench midway through the third period with an arm injury and it's announced the team's leading scorer will not return to the game.
For the fourth time in the period an Edmonton player is injured as Petry takes a puck to the head. The Oilers blueliner is leaking some blood but leaves the ice on his own accord and heads to the locker room for stitches.
With Ryan Smyth in the penalty box for hooking, the Avs pull the goalie with three minutes remaining to create a 6-on-4 situation. Dubnyk holds the fort with 33 saves as the Oilers hang on for the 4-1 victory.