On Thursday, April 4, the Edmonton Oilers faced the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena the day after their 8-2 blowout victory against the Calgary Flames. Unfortunately, the Oilers didn’t bring the same energy as they did against the Flames, and were shutout by Vancouver 4-0 – interestingly, an exact reversal of the Oilers’ previous shutout against the Canucks.
The Oilers started Nikolai Khabibulin between the pipes rather than Dubnyk, but kept the young line of Hall-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle intact, a line which has been incredibly prolific during Edmonton’s winning streak. Nick Schultz was playing his 800th NHL game.
The game started quite slowly – while the Oilers essentially determined the outcome of their previous shutout game against the Canucks within the first few minutes, Thursday’s game didn’t even really start until midway through the first period.
There were a lot of hits, but not really any strong scoring opportunities. The Canucks were definitely returning determined to avoid another loss at the hands of the Oilers.
With about five minutes remaining in the first period, Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa scored a goal on a 5 on 3 power-play. It was an unsurprising goal – with that kind of an advantage, to not score would have been fairly ludicrous – but unfortunately brought the Canucks to a 1-0 lead, though Khabibulin made some big saves in the period.
Vancouver outshot Edmonton 13 to 5 in the first period, a statistic that didn’t bode well for the Oilers, as they seemed to be playing with lower energy than in their previous games.
The Oilers weren’t necessarily playing badly – Hall and Eberle opened the second period with a few shots on goal, and Edmonton managed to hold off the Canucks for most of the period. However, again with about five minutes to go, the Canucks got another goal – this time by Henrik Sedin – and increased their lead to 2-0.
The third period contained much the same – though Magnus Paajarvi made some great shots on Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, and the Oilers outshot the Canucks this period, they still weren’t getting as many good opportunities as in previous games, which was reflected in the score.
The Canucks seemed to get some confidence courtesy of their 2-0 lead and brought the score to 3-0 with a goal by Higgins. Kassian sunk one more for Vancouver with a mere 4 seconds to go, bringing the final score to 4-0 as the Canucks shutout the Oilers this time around.
The Canucks seemed, smartly, to be very on guard against the Oilers’ offensive strength. However, the fact is, the Oilers didn’t bring the same level of energy as they did against Calgary.
Derek Roy, who made his debut as a Canuck this game, spoke of the Oilers’ offense, saying that “we know they are an offensive powerhouse and they like to generate stuff off turnovers so we did a good job not turning it over and making sure we were back-checking too.”
Edmonton failed to convert any of their four power-plays this game, a fairly surprising fact, as they tend to be pretty strong at getting power-play goals.
Oilers coach Ralph Krueger acknowledged that the Oilers just “didn’t seem to bring the energy,” and Ryan Whitney likewise said in a post-game interview that “it just seemed like we were a little tired out there. We just didn’t play our game.”
That sums it up pretty well. They didn’t make any huge errors – they just didn’t give it the same energy. To give you an idea, while the Oilers had 23 shots on goal this game, in the previous night’s 8-2 triumph over the Flames they made a staggering 39 shots on goal. While back to back games are rough, they just can’t afford to bring anything less than full throttle energy to every game, especially against a team like the Canucks.
The Oilers will be playing the Los Angeles Kings in a matinee game on Saturday, April 6.