Pass imperfect for Paajarvi

Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi fights for the puck against Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski at...

Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi fights for the puck against Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Feb. 15, 2012. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:29 AM ET

EDMONTON - In hindsight, it turned out to be the wrong decision.

But Magnus Paajarvi’s pass to Ryan Whitney in overtime Wednesday may not have necessarily have been a bad decision.

Under a different set of circumstances, it would have been the right play, and only an exceptional defensive effort by Dion Phaneuf kept it from being so.

“In the overtime there is risk and reward,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. “Sometimes you have to go for it. His decision at the time was to defer and not bring the puck to the net and those things happen.

“That’s the beauty of overtime, once things open up, we give our defencemen the green light to join in. We want three attacking all the time. Sometimes that’s what happens, you don’t score at one end and they go on to score at the other.”

Paajarvi had the game on his stick in overtime, leading a two-on-one rush with Ales Hemsky, when Whitney joined in to make it a three-on-one.

Instead of trying to float the puck over to Hemsky, the Oilers sophomore elected to slide the puck to Whitney, who attempted to lean into a shot.

Unfortunately for Whitney and the Oilers, Phaneuf made a great play to get back and lift Whitney’s stick at the last moment, sending the play back on an odd-man rush the other way.

Joffrey Lupul then slid the puck over to Tim Connolly who scored the overtime winner in the 4-3 victory.

“It’s easy to look back on it now,” said Paajarvi. “I tried to make the play when I saw Whit, he was calling for the puck. Maybe I should have looked to see if there was anybody behind him. I made the play and it didn’t work out, I’ll take responsibility for it. If it works and he gets to shoot the one-timer and there’s probably a pretty good chance that it goes in. It is what it is.”

Regardless of the play, Paajarvi once again had a strong outing, his third since being recalled from the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Playing on a line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, the winger has looked more engaged since his return to the Oilers than he did earlier in the year.

“I’m playing with more confidence and getting to play with Hemmer and Horc helps me a lot, because they’re really good players,” said Paajarvi. “They help me a lot, and right now, I feel great on the ice.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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