SUN Hockey Pool

Paajarvi finding his way

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Years from now, if he wanted to, Magnus Paajarvi could probably describe his first NHL goal as an end-to-end rush with a classic finish to the top corner.

By then, no one will remember it.

However, that's not how the Edmonton Oilers rookie plans to describe it.

"A greasy goal," said Paajarvi, following a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"Obviously you want to score as much as possible. It was a greasy one but everyone counts. It was nice to have it, but too bad it came in a loss."

At the time, Paajarvi's goal was the go-ahead marker, putting the Oilers up 3-2 in the second period. He was first to a loose puck sitting on the goal-line after Colin Fraser fired it out in front from the corner.

Paajarvi got more of the goal post than the puck as he whacked at it, but it was enough to get it just over the goal-line.

A video review was required to confirm the puck had crossed the line.

"We dumped the puck in and Fraser and (Ryan) Jones did a really good job of forechecking," Paajarvi said. "I got a little bit lucky, but I knew it was in for sure."

Paajarvi finished the contest with a goal and an assist. He picked up a helper on Ales Hemsky's opening goal of the contest in the first period. It was Paajarvi's first NHL point.

"I thought he (Paajarvi) was pretty good (Saturday)," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. "He had an influence on the game, there's no question about that.

"He still has to work on getting pucks deep and managing the puck. This is the NHL and there's 3,000 less square feet of ice out there in North America than there is across the pond and we've got to make sure that pucks go to places where if we can't do something with it, then neither should they."

The Oilers first-round pick -- 10th overall -- in 2009, Paajarvi had struggled to find his way offensively early in the season after an impressive pre-season.

However, after scoring his first NHL goal on Saturday, the native of Norrkoping, Sweden, seemed to grow in stature and was more involved in the contest.

Yet the Oilers were still unable to hold off a hard-charging Flames team in the third period and conceded the tying and then winning goal in the frame.

"It wasn't anything that we weren't expecting," said Paajarvi. "We knew they were going to come hard. But the penalties killed us.

"It's not acceptable for us to lose the third period like that. We have to play smarter. I think we battled hard and we had a good effort, but it just didn't work out."

Late in the game with the Oilers looking for the tying goal, Renney sent his three rookies, Paajarvi, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to look for it.

The Oilers were not able to tie the contest, although they did have a chance with the clock winding down.

"That's huge, you want to play at that time," Paajarvi said. "That shows that if you play well, you're going to get the confidence from your coach. So if you step it up, you're going to play at important times."

Despite having access to a number of veterans in the late stages of the contest, Renney felt it was a good opportunity for his rookies to earn valuable experience.

"There is a point and time when you have to bite your tongue and go with it," Renney said. "The learning curve does have to involve being put in tough situations and then dealing with it beyond that."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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