Fatigue caught up to Edmonton Oilers, who were playing third game in three days
By Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com
Nail Yakupov got the Edmonton Oilers on the board 58 seconds in, but three straight goals by the Avalanche spurred the home side to a 3-1 win Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
The Edmonton Oilers raced out to a 1-0 lead only 58 seconds in. Sam Gagner extended his point streak to eight games, feeding Ales Hemsky who burst up the wing on a partial 2-on-1 with Nail Yakupov. No. 83’s cross-ice pass connected and Yakupov made no mistake, depositing the puck into the empty cage behind Semyon Varlamov.
Mark Fistric was assessed an interference minor at 6:32, putting the League’s 29th-best (2-for-21, 9.5 percent on the season) power-play to work. Relentess pressure by the Avalanche forced Devan Dubnyk to come up with some big saves, but the 6-foot-5 netminder stood tall to preserve his team’s lead.
With 10:18 to play, a turnover at the Colorado blue line gave the Avalanche a 3-on-1 back the other way. Matt Duchene led the charge, dishing to Patrick Bordeleau who walked in alone, but Dubnyk made the save as he was bulled over.
Bordeleau was sent off for goaltender interference and the Edmonton Oilers went on their first power-play of the afternoon. The visitors peppered Varlamov with several high-quality chances, including a goalmouth scramble that Teemu Hartikainen should have scored on, but the 1-0 game remained.
Moments later, the Edmonton Oilers executed a 3-on-1 that saw Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz work some magic, but the puck didn’t bounce their way. Seconds after that, Schultz, who was still down patrolling the goal line, fed a pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the doorstep, but his sharp-angle one-timer drifted just wide of the net.
At 15:23, Hartikainen was charged for tripping. The Avs came close once again, but Dubnyk made saves No. 11, 12 and 13 to keep the Edmonton Oilers in front.
The Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins line went back to work late in the period on an odd-man rush, but Varlamov was there to deny Hall’s in-tight chances.
With 20 minutes in the books, the Edmonton Oilers led 1-0 but were trailing 13-7 in shots.
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The Edmonton Oilers nearly extended to a 2-0 lead near the eight-minute mark when Hartikainen was left all alone in the blue paint, but his shot sailed wide and out of the reach of a charging Nugent-Hopkins.
Edmonton was assessed its third minor penalty of the afternoon at 8:34 when Eric Belanger was sent off for holding. It was extended to a 30-second 5-on-3 when Anton Lander was called for tripping.
Stopping a barrage of shots throughout, Dubnyk was absolutely sensational. Late in the power-play, Avalance defenceman Erik Johnson sifted a long-range wrist shot into the slot. Patrolling the middle, Jamie McGinn got a piece and redirected it on goal. Dubnyk was there, squeezing it undernearth his right arm as he slid off the goal line.
Just as Lander’s infraction expired, however, the Avalanche made it a 1-1 game. On a similar play to McGinn’s, PA Parenteau redirected a point shot past the goaltender as he cruised through the slot.
The Edmonton Oilers got a chance to regain the lead with 6:34 to play as David Van Der Gulik was sent off for hooking. The chances were there, but the opportunity passed without incident. As the Av’s penalty expired and he got back into the play, McGinn cruised back through the porous Edmonton Oilers defence to engineer the go-ahead goal at 15:36.
Colorado continued to press in search of its third goal, surprassing the 30-shot mark near the six-minute mark. Dubnyk was strong, still, offering little to the confident Avalanche attack.
Ladislav Smid was assessed a holding minor at 7:27. Needing a kill to stay in the game, the Edmonton Oilers got it and the 2-1 score remained as the 10-minute mark approached.
The Edmonton Oilers continued to press for the equalizer, but they couldn’t stay out of the box. Justin Schultz was sent off for holding with 6:51 to play. The orange and blue killed that one, too, but time was running out.
With 3:26 to play, the Edmonton Oilers went on the power-play when Paul Stastny was assessed a minor for delay of game (faceoff violation). The Oilers pulled Dubnyk for an extra-attacker with 2:30 to play to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. As the power-play expired, Stastny raced out of the box and slid the puck into the empty net to secure the win for the Avalanche.