Finally! The Oilers have defeated the Minnesota Wild for the first time in what seems like a lifetime.
You know who’s pretty good? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Turns out, we discuss him, the goaltending, and Sam Gagner’s moxie after the jump.
Do come along. Winning is fun.
Seventeen tries. The Oilers were without a victory in seventeen tries when visiting Minnesota until yesterday’s victory.
Let’s talk about the victory – a victory where Edmonton never trailed.
- TWO POINTS IS NO PROBLEM FOR RYAN SMYTH: I feel bad for Justin Falk. You see, Justin Falk had the misfortune of covering Jordan Eberle on Edmonton’s first goal. Eberle is going hard to the net, when he stops near Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding’s right, spins around, and dishes a pretty little bonbon to Ryan Smyth. All Smyth has to do is tap it behind Harding, and Edmonton is off to the races.
You wanna see? This team finished last for the last two seasons and out of the playoffs for the last five. Of course I want to see.
I haven’t asked Jeff Petry personally, but it looks like he’s not sure what just happened. Did he just score? Smyth would later have an assist for his two point effort, good enough to tie for the team lead in points scored with 24 (12-12-24) in 22 GP. Speaking of team leaders…
- TWO G FOR RNH: Nugent-Hopkins is eighteen, and he’s tied with a guy nearly twice his age on the Edmonton Oilers for the team lead in points with 24 (10-14-24) in 22 games. Nugent-Hopkins helped his cause with a pair of goals in yesterday’s contest. I remember when Bob Stauffer predicted that Nugent-Hopkins could seriously contend for sixty points this season and how I scoffed at the idea. If RNH keeps his performance up, there’s a legit chance at sixty, or maybe even more. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with a power play goal when he along with Eric Belanger and Sam Gagner were jostling for the puck in front of Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding. Nugent-Hopkins was also scored an empty-netter when Jordan Eberle unselfishly dished him the puck with a little more than a minute to play.
- HORC, HALL AND EBS: Shawn Horcoff (1-1-2), Taylor Hall (1-1-2) and Jordan Eberle (0-2-2) all had two points in this game.
SOLID EFFORT FOR KHABIBULIN: Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 30 of 32 Minnesota shots for his ninth victory on the season. Khabibulin’s numbers are sitting pretty at 9-4-2, 1.87 and .936. Khabibulin’s save percentage is nearly .05% better than last year’s finishing number of .890. That might not look like too big of a difference, but it translates to 46 goals on 1000 shots, or an extra goal a game. Big difference so far this year.
- RYAN WHITNEY BACK AGAIN – And this time, I hope it’s for real. Whitney finished with nearly sixteen and a half minutes yesterday. He’s got to stay healthy. Alex Plante and Taylor Chorney are great guys, but Ryan Whitney is the here and now.
- THE LAST MINUTE SCRATCHES: Paajarvi was slated to get some fourth line minutes yesterday, but Hordichuk and Petrell caught last minute reprieves from Coach Renney. Petrell was on the ice for seven minutes, while Hordichuk skated for just 4:44. I really can’t take Hordichuk to task too hard for yesterday’s performance. He did take a bad penalty on Brad Staubitz in the third, but Staubitz took eight minutes of dumb penalties in the second. Two wrongs don’t usually make a right, but…
The victory is Edmonton’s second in a row, and the Oilers are 2-1 with one game remaining on the trip. The Oilers face off the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Game preview in a couple of hours. Enjoy the ride.
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