Oilers finish nine-game road trip with back-to-back wins
Dubnyk gets first shutout of season, fifth of career
DENVER — The nine-game road trip didn’t go as planned, not with a skid of five straight losses, but the Edmonton Oilers still managed to pocket eight points.
The Oilers capped off their 17-day expedition with a commanding 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday at the Pepsi Centre.
It was the first time this season the Oilers have not allowed a goal. Tuesday’s win also came on the heels of a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, giving the Oilers their first back-to-back victories since Jan. 28-30.
“I think tonight was as complete a game as we’ve played, especially on the road,” said captain Shawn Horcoff. “What we had been talking about seemed to sink in a little bit.
“It’s not easy to finish in Denver after 17 days – I think we were all sucking wind a little bit — but when you’re not feeling great, that’s the kind of game you need to play.
“That’s the blueprint we’ve been talking about.”
Midway through the first period, Gabriel Landeskog lost an edge, springing Horcoff for a breakaway on Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Horcoff took advantage of the play to score his second goal in as many games since returning from a hand injury.
Five minutes later, Sam Gagner put a rebound past the Avs goalie to give Edmonton a 2-0 first-period lead.
The last time these teams met, the Oilers peppered the Avalanche with 56 shots in a 6-4 win.
“We let them get away with a 2-0 lead and then 3-0. It was an uphill battle,” said Landeskog, whose club is 8-3-1 on home ice and 1-3 in games against the Oilers.
“We’ve just got to put this one behind us.”
Devan Dubnyk, who was back in the Oilers net after suffering a stinger in the second period of Sunday’s game at Chicago, turned away 36 shots, including a skate save before Magnus Paajarvi scored a dandy goal at the other end, batting in his own rebound.
It was the fifth shutout of his career.
The Avalanche thought they might be able to swing the momentum, but Jan Hejda’s third-period shot through traffic was disallowed because Landeskog was called for goaltender interference. It looked like the Colorado forward was pushed into
Dubnyk by Edmonton defenceman Justin Schultz.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins capped the proceedings with his second goal of the season, and first since Feb. 16, on a third period power play. Both of his goals have been scored against Colorado.
“Much more net pressure, much more discipline in bringing the pucks to the ice from non-scoring areas and having bodies in the scoring areas to finish it off,” said head coach Ralph Krueger.
“Overall, Devan was a symbol for what happened within the team. Look at the pressure we were under after the Nashville game (a 6-0 loss) and how we felt about that. It was time to look at ourselves in the mirror and look at the kind of season it was going to be.
“Were we going to stay in the hunt? Or were we going to leave the hunt? From Devan all the way through the team, they’ve decided to stay in with these two wins.”
The Avs are 10-11-4 while the Oilers return to Edmonton with a record of 10-11-5, which puts them in 12th place, three spots up from their position after the loss to the Predators.
The Oilers play 14 of their next 22 games on home ice.
“Eight points out of nine games is not ideal, but we can live with it,” said Taylor Hall, who finished with two assists.
“To win this game, against a divisional opponent ... those are just a few of the factors why this was a big win for us. We need to keep this momentum at home, though. It’s always a little bit tough to play at home after a long trip, so we need to be ready.”
OIL SPILLS: Ales Hemsky, who was under the weather in the morning, soldiered through the game, but with eight minutes left and the result seemingly in hand, Krueger pulled him from the lineup. “He had cramps going into the game but he played through it. That’s good for everybody to see that.” ... The Oilers assigned backup goaltender Yann Danis to the Oklahoma City Barons after the game, which means Nikolai Khabibulin will at least be on the bench for Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. He had left the team during the road trip to attend to a groin injury.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal