So much for hitting the skids without Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.
The Oilers rebounded from the third-period collapse with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Linus Omark, in his first game up with the Oilers, capped the shootout win (after a junior-league spinnerama at the blueline).
“I’ve done it before and I know it works,” said Omark.
Up 3-2 at home, and usually pretty good in the third period, the Oilers looked lost and in over their heads in the third period. They were outshot 17-1 and would have lost in regulation if Nikolai Khabibulin hadn’t been his usual game-saving self.
There was plenty of buzz in the building, with Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis visiting for Tampa Bay and Omark joining Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi for the first time.
Omark’s first period as an Oiler didn’t result in the offensive
flurry he had hoped, at least not for Edmonton. He couldn’t chip the puck out at Edmonton’s blueline, leading to Tampa’s first goal. and it was his line that got hemmed in their own zone later in the first, leading to a Theo Peckham interference penalty that led to Tampa’s second goal.
These things happen. Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi made their mistakes, too. And Omark did make a sweet move off the side boards to set up a second period goal.
“We know why they’re here and they know whey they’re here,” Tom Renney said of the kids. “We want to make sure we give them an opportunity to succeed. They won’t be held hostage by mistakes.”
Edmonton’s goal came via Paajarvi, who one-timed a drop pass from Dustin Penner for his first goal in 19 games. Penner’s, assist gave him 10 points in 11 games.
He also had a scrap with Pavel Kubina in the second period after Kubina squashed Omark in the corner.
The Oilers were outshot 14-7 in the first period, not the first time they’ve had a period handed to them in their own building. Facing a goalie in Dan Ellis with an .878 save percentage, they were instructed to throw everything at the net, but didn’t.
“We need to get more pucks to the net regardless,” said Renney. “We have to increase the shot total because it increases the chance total.”
Edmonton tied it in the second period after a wild exchange of odd-man rushes during a four-on-four. Hall and O’Marra had a two-on-one and missed, the Bolts took it back the other way for a three on two and Hall and O’Marra got it back again for another two on one. This time they converted, with Hall picking the puck up behind the net for a wraparound. His 10th of the season lifted him into a tie for the team lead in goal scoring.
The Oilers jumped ahead 3-2 when Tom Gilbert backhanded an Omark rebound into the twine at 16:30, giving the newcomer his first NHL point.
Winning the second period 2-0 was a big victory for a team that quite often struggles with it.
“I think the long change has hurt us,” said Renney. “The change game is big in this day and age; transition is so fast, goaltenders can move the puck up so quick that if you don’t have good puck management you’re in trouble.”
The third wasn’t so great, though. The Oilers were outshot 12-1 through the first 11 minutes and and it was only a matter of time before Tampa tied it, which they did on a Stamkos one-timer at 11:33.
LATE HITS... Hall had four two-on-ones in the second period, two with O’Marra and one each with Penner and Cogliano, and a breakaway in which the clock ran out on him at the blueline... Seeing Hall and Stamkos on the same ice is a special occasion, said renney. “The game is great because of people like that, for sure.”
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