SUN Hockey Pool

Cole finally making mark

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Erik Cole's effort had rarely come into question, but his lack of production has been a source of concern for the Edmonton Oilers.

Heading into Friday's contest against the Anaheim Ducks, the former 30-goal winger had scored just three times and had a total of eight points.

But Cole had arguably his best game with the Oilers in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks.

TYING GOAL

He batted in the tying goal and came within a goal post of netting the winner as the Oilers fired 53 shots at Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.

"He skated hard," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's getting a lot of credit for scoring the goal, but he did a good job killing penalties, which may be as important a contribution.

"He played some big minutes, was great four-on-four and could have won it for us."

Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes this summer for defenceman Joni Pitkanen, there were high expectations on the Oswego, New York native heading into the season.

Once a cornerstone of the Hurricanes franchise, Cole was expected to provide grit as well as needed offensive punch off the wing.

He was one of the reasons for so much optimism heading into the season.

But things haven't worked out as scripted for both Cole and the Oilers.

STRUGGLED

Despite working hard, like a hamster in a wheel, Cole wasn't getting anywhere and struggled to collect points at his usual pace.

In fact, Friday night was the first time he scored a regular-season goal at Rexall Place.

He could have had three, also getting a great chance on a two-on-one break and finishing with seven shots in the contest.

"I don't know (if it was his best game)," Cole said. "I just feel like we let a point slip away.

"It's frustrating that we had enough opportunities to take a lead, take control of the game and we didn't."

Last year, Cole had 51 points in 73 games with the Hurricanes. He had 61 in 71 the previous year.

This season, he's on a 26-point pace.

Cole's third-period goal allowed the Oilers to come back from a 2-0 deficit. It was his first goal in 17 games.

"Hopefully that will get Erik going," MacTavish said. "It's good to see he and Sam (Gagner) especially, put together a few games now. We're in better shape in that regard, but I don't think we're out of the woods yet."


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