The goal that wasn't there

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

All the talk following the game was about the mighty 'Bulin whiff.

Yet had Patrick O'Sullivan been able to bury a glorious opportunity seconds earlier, the Edmonton Oilers would have been celebrating a victory instead of lamenting an opening-night loss.

The stage was set for O'Sullivan to be the hero Saturday when the puck dropped to him in the slot with just over a minute left in the contest. However, the Oilers winger fired the puck wide and the Flames scored the winning goal seconds later as Nikolai Khabibulin misplayed the puck, allowing David Moss to poke it into an empty net.

"I didn't know if I should maybe try to make a move with it, or shoot it as quick as I could," O'Sullivan said yesterday. "I tried to shoot it as quick as I could, and I just missed the spot I was going at. I had the right height, I just missed the net by a little bit.

"Obviously we know what happened after that. I feel like I'd like to have that one back. I feel like I should have scored that, but what are you going to do? If I get a chance like that next time, it's got to go in the net."

Despite the miss, O'Sullivan was still one of the most dangerous players on the ice for the Oilers on opening night.

Against the Flames, the native of Winston-Salem, N.C., tied Sheldon Souray with a team-high six shots in the contest. He was in on the Oilers first goal of the season as Dustin Penner was able to bang in a rebound past Miikka Kiprusoff after the Flames goaltender had difficulty controlling O'Sullivan's initial drive.

"I have to shoot the puck," O'Sullivan said. "That's how I need to play and that's the role that I have on my line. We need guys to shoot the puck.

"I had some great chances -- I should have had a goal or two, in my opinion. I need to bear down a little bit more. The ice is bad and that could affect the puck and how it's sitting and all that. But I know I need to shoot the puck, and the more I do that, the more offence I create, not only for myself, but for other people with rebounds.

"That's how we scored our first goal and I'm going to continue to do that."

A two-time 40-goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League and 47-goal man with the Houston Aeros of the AHL, there's little doubt O'Sullivan -- who came over from the L.A. Kings in a trade last season -- can fill the net in bunches. The Oilers are hoping it's only a matter of time before they start going in.

"He did what he was supposed to do," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. "He had a lot of our chances to score and misfired and missed the net. You wonder if he's looking for his timing. How does he miss the net from 20 feet out at what looked like an open net?

"From the bench it looked like he had a lake to shoot in. But he got his chances and guys that score we expect them to get their chances and hope that some start to go in for him. I think they will for him, too."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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