Great and ghastly

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

Wow! And whoa!

It was great. And it was ghastly.

It was wonderful. And it was woeful.

And whatever you thought of it, the 'New NHL' sure did get a complete top-to-bottom, full meal deal workout last night.

For an Edmonton Oilers fan it was the entire wild ride. Was there a new aspect of the new NHL rules that didn't come into play last night?

A parade of new rule penalties. Five of six goals on the power play. A clearing shot into the stands by Mattias Ohlund in the final minute to get a game back with a pulled-goalie two-man advantage.

And a shootout with the home fans on their feet and the Oilers sending them into the night happy with a 4-3 win and a 2-0 jump on the season.

DEEP DO-DO

"That's the 'New NHL' all right,'' said Shawn Horcoff who scored his third goal of the season on his third shot of the season and then took two penalties which put the Oilers in deep do-do.

"In the old days those were two hard-working plays. Now they're penalties. It's something we've got to get into our minds.''

Led by Georges Laraque's brainless shots to the head of a Vancouver Canuck upon whom he was residing at the time, resulted in calling off a goal which would have given the Oilers a 3-1 lead.

The power play that followed turned into a 3-2 Canucks lead.

MacTavish didn't know what to think.

"In our first game, we had great discipline and took three penalties. Tonight, we took 33. Where does that leave us?''

Well, not quite. The Canucks were three-for-12 on the power-play. They had three 5-on-3 situations and a 4-on-3. And the Oilers had to set some sort of record for shots blocked in Game 2 of an 82-game regular season.

The bottom line was that it was one whale of a roller-coaster ride for a second straight sellout crowd.

"It was an amazing win,'' said the coach. "To have that many penalties against a team as strong as Vancouver is on the power play and come away with a win "We didn't get outskilled. We overcame losing Ryan Smyth early. That game showed that we have more depth now. We handled it.''

G.M. Kevin Lowe, a member of the competition committee which established the new rules, said "a couple of calls were questionable, but that's hockey.

"I was upset at our hockey club for the first three penalties we took early. They weren't smart penalties against a powerhouse of a team. We dominated the other night when we took three penalties. In this game we took three in the first period.''

"But it was overall what we wanted. There were lead changes and up-and-down play.''

For the second game in a row, the Oilers dominated the faceoff circle, especially in the first two periods. In the end they won 60% of them.

"And the shootout was great. Jussi Markkanen was great. We were partially responsible for him but we owe a lot to him.''

Canucks coach Marc Crawford took the one-point-for-the-standings overtime loss in stride.

"That's the way they're going to call it. Unfortunately we had a defenceman put a puck in the stands and that's a penalty. That turned a win into an overtime game and into a loss in the shootout.

"But the fans got what they wanted. And we get a point out of here.''

And Todd Bertuzzi, who had a chance to be a hero in the shootout in overtime, got out of his first regular-season game on the road since he was suspended for his despicable deed to Steve Moore, with treatment that wasn't so tough. I mean, it wasn't like he was Mike Comrie or somebody.

Oh, the fans were waiting to boo Bertuzzi the first time he touched the puck but Horcoff scored on the same shift without Bertuzzi managing to come anywhere near the biscuit.

BERTUZZI BOOED

On his second shift he was booed when he finally touched the puck. And there was more of that during the period. But a boo wasn't to be heard until he took a penalty midway in the second period. The fans didn't really have their heart in it.

In the end it was more fun cheering the Oilers than booing Bertuzzi. A lot more fun.

"The fans loved it, didn't they,'' said Michael Peca.

They didn't love every single minute of it. But as the old show business saying goes, it's how you leave 'em.


Videos

Photos