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Oilers’ hard work pays off

What a surprise! Hard work, effort and determination can actually win hockey games in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers put forward their most complete effort of the season on Tuesday, ending their nine-game road trip with a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

 

No, the Oilers didn’t beat the Avs on the shot clock. And no, the Oilers were not the most physical of the two teams, but they did an almost perfect job of beating the Avs to loose pucks with their speed and quickness. The Oilers had the puck on their sticks for the majority of the game and vehemently chased and dug for the puck when they didn’t.

 

The Oilers were hungry for the puck on Tuesday and when their defense did falter, Deven Dubnyk was in perfect position to make the save. Dubnyk was steadfast between the pipes for the Oilers and made most of his saves look easy. Colorado did manage to get a slap shot by Dubnyk in the third period, but the goal was quickly called back because Gabriel Landeskog was standing on the edge of the crease and appeared to graze the pad of Dubnyk. It was a weak goaltender interference call that nullified any sort comeback for the Avs. Dubnyk stopped all 36 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season—his first shutout since March of last year.

 

“Our goaltending was outstanding,” Oilers’ head coach Ralph Krueger expressed to edmontonoilers.com. “Beginning with Devan, all the way through the team, they decided to stay in the hunt with these two wins here. Devan was certainly a leader here tonight. His positional play overall was really excellent.”

 

The season’s best Oilers continued to produce against the Avs. Sam Gagner, who has been the Oilers best forward this season, pounced on a rebound and shoved the puck behind Semyon Varlamov in the first period. It was Gagner’s team-leading tenth goal.

 

Gagner also collected an assist on Magnus Paajarvi’s goal in the second period. It was a valiant effort by Paajarvi who drove hard to the Avalanche goal, shot at the pads of Varlamov and then batted his own rebound out of the air and into the net for his fifth goal of the season. Paajarvi has finally found his stride this season after a disappointing sophomore campaign last year.

Oilers’ hard work pays off
Edmonton Oilers’ Magnus Paajarvi shoots past Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn then scores on the deflection during the second period in Denver on Tuesday, March 12,2013.
(Barry Gutierrez , The Associated Press)

Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall both picked up two assists and Jeff Petry played another outstanding defensive game, playing over 23 minutes to lead the Oilers in ice time.

 

The return of Oilers’ captain Shawn Horcoff from injury has also made a noticeable difference in the balance of the Oilers. The Oilers have changed their intensity and effort levels since Horcoff’s return and now have a 5-2-1 record with their captain in the lineup.

 

Horcoff returned to the Oilers on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks and scored a powerplay goal to help his team defeat the best team in the NHL. On Tuesday night in Colorado, the Oilers’ captain scored the first goal of the hockey game after Landeskog fell over in the neutral zone and allowed Horcoff to collect the puck and walk in all alone on Varlamov.

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his first goal in 12 games and only his second goal of season in the third period to put the Oilers ahead 4-0. Even with the four-goal lead, the Oilers continued to play their game and their persistence paid off as they escaped their nine-game road trip with a 3-4-2 record. We’ll take it. Thank you very much.

 

Now, after nine games over the course of 17 days, against some very intimidating teams, the Oilers return to snowy, cold Edmonton (seriously, it’s snowing here right now) to face the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.

 

Evan Davits

Evan Davits

I grew up playing hockey on the roads, outdoor rinks, and ice surfaces of various arenas in Edmonton and around Northern Alberta. Now, I am a father of three and a journalism student at MacEwan University in Edmonton. My words are often brutally honest and critical; however, I have never been the type to shy away from sarcasm and humour.
Evan Davits
Evan Davits

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