Nothing went Samuelsson’s way in Sunday’s game
Shots, penalty calls weren’t in favour of Oil Kings veteran winger
EDMONTON - Knee-deep in the dregs of a scoreless game, Henrik Samuelsson saw daylight and had the chance to be a hero.
The Edmonton Oil Kings’ leading scorer in the regular-season had a short breakaway in the second period of Sunday’s first-round Western Hockey League playoff battle with the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. But he ended up sandwiched between a Raiders defender and, eventually, goaltender Cole Cheveldave.
The whistle blew and the outcome had 6,584 fans at Rexall Place booing when Samuelsson was called for goaltender interference.
With the game tied 1-1 in the third period, the 20-year-old Phoenix Coyotes prospect was battling in the corner in his own end and took a hard cross-check to the back. Down on the ice, he heard the boos from the crowd again, but no whistle.
“It’s playoffs,” Samuelsson said after the Oil Kings rallied from a brief 1-0 third-period deficit to pull out a 3-1 win.
The Oil Kings lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.
“They call it pretty tight and I guess they didn’t feel like it was enough to get called there (on the cross-check),” he said. “Then on the breakaway, I bumped Cheveldave a little bit. It could have gone either way. I could have got a penalty shot or I could have got a penalty. Just two calls that didn’t go my way.”
While Samuelsson led the Oil Kings with 35 goals and 60 assists this season, he was also fourth in penalty minutes, with 97. He had the same amount a year ago and 42 minutes in his 28-game rookie season.
Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal wouldn’t say that it’s difficult for Samuelsson to draw a penalty.
“You know what, playoffs are tough. The refs are going to let you play here and there,” he said. “They’re going to make calls and you have to have that focus as a team. You can’t really change the call once it’s made, you have to focus on killing (the penalty), and I thought we did a good job there at the end of the game.”
To Samuelsson’s credit, he has kept his temper in check in the first two playoff games. Sunday, in particular, could have been a challenging day for him, where retaliation could have served as the quick-fix to his frustration. Instead, he tried to answer on the scoresheet.
Offensively, though, Sunday wasn’t his day either. The puck wouldn’t bounce his way most of the game and, with Cheveldave on the bench in the final minutes of play, Samuelsson saw a backhanded shot kiss the crossbar and ricochet back into play.
“Yeah, I just saw a lane and threw it,” Samuelsson said. “It could have gone either way. It just didn’t go my way.”
He had the puck on his stick in close range again shortly after, but was whistled down for an offside. He threw the puck on the empty net after the fact and saw that attempt hit the post.
At some point, preferably for Game 3 on Tuesday in Prince Albert, Samuelsson would like to rediscover his scoring touch. Samuelsson, along with Curtis Lazar (76 points) and Mitch Moroz (63 points) — the team’s top three scorers in the regular season — have seven assists among them in the first two playoff games, but only Lazar has scored.
“I think we had played pretty solid,” Samuelsson said. “Not our best, but still solid enough to keep it a 0-0 game going into the third and then, luckily in the third, we stepped it up a notch and got the win.”
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