The Edmonton Oilers faced the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on December 15th. After inconsistent performances over the past few games (to put it nicely), Edmonton sat Devan Dubnyk out and put Bryzgalov between the pipes to face the Ducks. It proved to be a good choice just a few minutes into the first period, as he managed to make some great saves to kill the Ducks’ power-play. A little more than halfway into the first period, a shot by Taylor Hall was tipped in by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to bring the Oilers to an early 1-0 lead.
However, this didn’t last for long, as Edmonton struggled to keep the puck out of their end. Consequently, it was only a matter of time before the Ducks managed to sneak one past Bryzgalov to tie the game.
After a few good chances by both the Ducks and the Oilers, and the Oilers’ first power-play of the night, the game remained tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period.
In the second period, the Oilers managed to successfully kill a long 5 minute power-play that Potter garnered for checking from behind and a game misconduct (served by Yakupov).
In a way similar to their first goal, the Ducks managed to keep the puck bouncing around the Oilers’ net until eventually one bounced in, bringing Anaheim into the lead.
Determined for a win after their previous miserable 4-0 shut out by the Canucks, the Oilers put the pressure on in the third period until they were finally rewarded as Sam Gagner tied the game 2-2 with only 10 minutes or so remaining in regulation.
The Oilers have been fairly strong in shoot outs, so I think many fans hoped they could at least drag the tie score out into a shoot out, if they couldn’t bury a third goal between the pipes.
Well, someone could – but unfortunately it was the Ducks. At the hand of Dustin Penner, a former Oiler, the Ducks regained their lead, bringing the score to 3-2 with only 3 minutes left in the game. The Oilers didn’t manage to tie it up again, and lost to Anaheim.
In what is rapidly becoming an irritating refrain, Oilers coach Dallas Eakins interviewed “listen, you’re always disappointed when you lose, but I can’t find a whole lot wrong with our game there. I thought our guys played excellent. That’s the League. It’s a game of mistakes, but I thought our mistakes tonight were honest ones.”
While I understand what he means – Bryzgalov did well in net, and none of the Oilers made huge, blatant mistakes on the ice – his post-game comments are increasingly becoming interchangeable.
The players generally have more substance to their post-game critique. Gagner commented that “we’re not happy. You’ve got to find a way to at least get it to overtime. We played a solid game, but at the end there, we have to find a way to show up in our D zone. I know it’s a good line and it goes off [Jeff] Petry, but we have to figure a way to keep it out of our net and at least force overtime.”
(See, Eakins? Constructive comments that acknowledge the team’s effort while also pointing out to things that could actually be improved, and picking apart their game a little bit to see where they can learn. Take a cue from Sam, perhaps.)
The Oilers will stay in California a little bit longer in order to face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, December 17th.