January 24, 2012
Oilers win over Sharks in shootout
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - The effort was better, as was the goaltending, and surprisingly, so was the result.
Coming off a performance Saturday, which left a foul odor still resonating in the rafters at Rexall Place, the Oilers tried a lot harder Monday against the San Jose Sharks.
And thanks to an outstanding goaltending performance from Devan Dubnyk, they were able to pull out a 2-1 shootout victory.
“It’s really easy to judge our team by wins and loss, and scores and whatnot, and at the end of the day, that’s what you do at this level,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “But our effort was good and it has been for the most part this year.
“We can all talk about individual games where we weren’t very impressed with ourselves, nor should we have been. But this is the type of effort that we’re kind of used to. We played as hard as we possibly could.”
Dubnyk turned away 44 shots in the contest and then stopped three of four shooters in the shootout to help the Oilers snap a three-game losing skid.
Jordan Eberle scored for the Oilers in regulation, while Logan Couture countered for the Sharks.
Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall then connected in the shootout to give the Oilers the victory, countering Joe Pavelski’s goal.
“All we wanted to do is come out and play a really effective game that shows our fans and our coaches that we can still play this way, no matter who is in or out of lineup,” said Hall. “Even though they out-shot us by a pretty good margin, we still feel that we played a pretty simple and effective game, and that’s what we need to do from now on.”
The Oilers appeared to dedicate this one to their embattled coaching staff, which is currently perched on a precarious edge, working in the last year of their contract.
Knowing they needed to show up against a Sharks team once again sitting near the top of the Western Conference standings, the Oilers stuck to the defensive game plan put in place.
“The trick was to protect inside the dots, make them play in the periphery and keep Joe (Thornton) and company out there as much as we could,” said Renney. “With that, they obviously threw a lot of stuff at the net and tried to create something off of that.
“I thought we did a good job. Dubie obviously played great and that was obviously important.”
The closest the Sharks came to scoring in the first was when Jamie McGinn rung a shot off the goalpost.
In the second, the Oilers stuck to the plan, allowing the Sharks plenty of time in the zone, but not giving up quality scoring chances.
In fact, despite being outshot 13-7 in the frame, it was the Oilers who would get on the board through their recently anointed All-Star, Eberle.
The sophomore winger had the puck bounce to him in the slot and was able to sweep it past goaltender Thomas Greiss for his 18th goal of the season.
“This was a big game for us,” Eberle said. “We kind of hung in there and Dubie kept us in there, made some unbelievable saves, and ultimately we got into the shootout and found a way to win, it was a big character win for us.”
In the third, things were going according to plan for the Oilers until Ales Hemsky was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing Sharks defenceman Brent Burns along the boards.
Couture tied the game early into the man advantage, tipping a Dan Boyle point-shot past Dubnyk.
It was the only goal they would score on the man-advantage, however, as Dubnyk stood on his head to help the team get into the shootout.
“This was huge,” said Gagner, who undressed Greiss in the shootout. “You have to give a lot of credit to Dubie he responded really well. I thought for the most part, our entire team did. I thought we brought the character traits that come with winning teams and we just have to keep it going.”