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Good Start for Edmonton

Will this finally be the year that the Edmonton Oilers make the playoffs?  Thousands of fans in Edmonton think so, and with a new roster comprised of youthful talent and veteran leadership, they certainly have a point.

This season the Oilers hired a new coach after the organization decided not to renew Tom Renney’s contract.  The new bench boss is Ralph Krueger.  His hockey experience includes playing in the German Bundesliga (now known as the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga)) where he accumulated 187 goals and 186 assists in 350 games.  Krueger was an associate coach with the Oilers starting in 2010, and got promoted this past offseason.  He has had success in coaching as well.  According to the Edmonton Oilers’ official website, Ralph coached VEU Feldkirch to five Austrian championships in a row (1994-98).  He also coached the Swiss National Hockey Team from 1997 to 2010.

Game 1: The Oilers’ season opened in Vancouver on Sunday.  Devan Dubnyk has been ‘dubbed’ (partially-intended pun) the official number one goalie for Edmonton, and he started the game.  Roberto Luongo got the start for the Canucks.

Alexander Edler scored first for Vancouver, 10 minutes into the game, and Vancouver outshot the Oilers 13-7 in the first period.  The Sedin twins then helped Zack Kassian open the scoring for period number two.  The game was dominated by Vancouver through the first 40 minutes of play, but Jordan Eberle managed to score with 4 seconds remaining in the second stanza.

Roberto Luongo kept his team in the lead until the 14:05 mark of the third period, when Ales Hemsky scored a powerplay goal and brought the teams even.  Following the faceoff at center ice, Ben Eager and Zack Kassian squared off.

No goals were scored in the 5 minutes of overtime, and a shootout commenced.

Vancouver shot first, sending Alex Edler to face Dubnyk.

Edler tried to go glove-side, but Dubnyk stopped it with a glove save.  Sam Gagner was the first shooter for Edmonton.  He went forehand-backhand and beat Luongo.  Alex Burrows had a slow approach and tried to sneak it past Dubnyk on the backhand, but was unsuccessful.

Ales Hemsky was the next and final scorer of the shootout, scoring five-hole to win the game.

After being outshot in the first period, the Oilers finished the game with 32 shots while the Canucks had 29.  Winner: Edmonton (1-0-0)

Game 2: Edmonton’s home-opener was Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks in Rexall Place.  The game did not start well for the Oilers.  Ales Hemsky and Jeff Petry both were penalized for 2 minutes (less than a minute apart), causing the Shark’s powerplay units to have to go to work early.

Dan Boyle scored a powerplay goal assisted by Little Joe (Pavelski) and Big Joe (Thornton).  Less than a minute later, Logan Couture scored another powerplay goal assisted by Little Joe and Patrick Marleau (he’s just regular Patrick).

Number one overall pick in this past year’s draft, Nail Yakupov, responded with a powerplay goal of his own 4 minutes later after defenseman Brad Stuart was called for interference.

The Sharks outshot the Oilers 17-7 in the first period.

Fast-forward 1:30, and Patrick Marleau scored.  Fast-forward one more minute, and Marleau scored again (this one on the powerplay)!  Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored in the same period to take a 6-1 lead.

The dangerous Edmonton powerplay struck again in the second period, this time on a goal by star rookie defenseman Justin Schultz.  The Oilers outshot the Sharks 17-9 in the period.  Taylor Hall also added a goal early in the 3rd period, but the comeback was not completed, and the Sharks went on to win 6-3.

Dubnyk was pulled after the first period, and Yann Danis played the last 40 minutes without giving up a goal.  Winner: San Jose (1-1-0)

Game 3: The Oilers took on the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings Thursday night.  After losing their home-opener to the Chicago Blackhawks, and then losing to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Kings were out to win.

Good Start for Edmonton
Oilers Rookie Nail Yakupov celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal with 4 seconds left in regulation on January 24th.
(Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

The Oilers outshot the Kings in the first by a total of 15-8, and Edmonton was controlling the puck more.  After a scoreless first period, Edmonton defenseman Ladislav Smid accumulated a total of 23 penalty minutes, all in the first period.  In an interval of 6 minutes, Smid received penalties for cross-checking, delay of game – smothering puck, instigator – face shield, and [regular] instigator.  He also received a 5 minute major for fighting Jordan Nolan and a 10 minute misconduct.

The Oilers managed to kill off all of the penalties.

Jeff Carter scored the lone goal in the second period, and the score of 1-0 stood until 1:05 left in the game, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-tying goal!…or so they thought.  Sam Gagner was pushed into Jonathan Quick, obstructing him from making an easy save.  When Nugent-Hopkins shot the puck into the open net, Quick immediately went to the nearest on-ice official to argue that he was interfered with.  The goal was not eligible to be reviewed, so the officials met and discussed it.

The goal was overturned.  No one at Rexall Place could believe it..

With the final seconds of the game winding down, rookie Nail Yakupov managed to find the puck and tie the game with just 4 seconds remaining.  He then proceeded to skate down the ice and celebrate by dropping to his knees and spinning…just like this.  The fans couldn’t believe this either!

In the overtime period that followed, Sam Gagner scored the game-winning goal for Edmonton.

The Oilers outshot the Kings 39-31 in total.  (Dubnyk – .968 SP)

Winner: Edmonton (2-1-0)

Follow me on Twitter @yungspork


Kevin Sporka

Kevin Sporka

Kevin Sporka is the Senior Media Analyst and Detroit Red Wings beat writer at HOHM. He is also the author of the Fantasy Hockey Fridays, In Retrospect, Milestone Monday, and Legends By the Number segments.
Kevin Sporka

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