EDMONTON – There seems to be no such thing as an easy two points for the Edmonton Oilers, even when they’re at home against a struggling team.
The New York Islanders looked like they were going to end a 12-game road losing streak at Edmonton’s expense before Andrew Cogliano’s third period goal helped the Oilers fight back from a rough start to earn a 3-2 victory Monday.
Edmonton’s win came less than a week after Ottawa snapped a 12-game road losing skid at Rexall Place.
“We just couldn’t lose this game,” Cogliano said. “When a team comes in the way they did you have to win it.
“It was a big win for us and a confidence boost going into our next game against the Canucks which I feel is one of our biggest games of the season. Some mental errors set us back at the beginning but we found a way to get through it.”
Fourth-liners Kyle Brodziak and Jason Strudwick also scored for the Oilers (19-16-3) who have won five of their last seven and four of their last five at home to improve to 8-6-3 at Rexall Place.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish felt the fourth unit, which includes Zack Stortini, made a crucial impact Monday.
“They played a really simple game and got a lot done tonight,” he said. “It was a good lesson for everyone. It doesn’t have to be pretty all of the time. They did a great job to help us come back and win the game. They typify what a fourth line should be.”
Strudwick, a journeyman forward who has also played defence for the Oilers this season, agreed that their two goals weren’t pretty.
“It was just one of those games that it was going to be ugly goals that won it and luckily enough our line was able to produce them,” he said. “It let the other lines just play their game which is what we needed at the time.”
The Oilers moved into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with Minnesota.
Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau replied for the Islanders (12-25-4), who have now lost 15 of their last 17 overall to sit last in the NHL standings.
“That was a winnable game and it slipped away from us,” said Islanders captain Bill Guerin. “Give them credit, they hung in there too. It was one of those games where whoever’s going to stick around longest and not break, and catch a break is going to win and that’s what happened.”
New York netminder Joey MacDonald said fate just didn’t seem to favour his team on the night.
“That first goal was an innocent play, went through the crease and off a skate and into the net and then the second goal was the same thing, off another skate,” he said. “Just two unlucky bounces for us. You take them out of it and it’s a win for us. Hopefully in the next game or so, we can start getting some bounces like that.”
Islanders head coach Scott Gordon didn’t see the point in criticizing his squad.
“We didn’t obviously get any calls,” he said. “Tim Jackman goes in, which should obviously be a power play for us, doesn’t get the call. They go opposite end and Joey gets run, no call. A goal gets kicked in, they rule it didn’t get kicked in, it looks like it was kicked in to me. We played a good game.”
The Islanders opened the scoring four minutes into the game. Shawn Horcoff coughed a puck up to Okposo deep in the Edmonton zone, and the Islanders forward beat Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson on his glove side.
Edmonton looked flat throughout the first period and got caught for a goal with just 2.5 seconds left. Josh Bailey sent a pass through a pair of Oiler defenders to Comeau, who scored on a wrist shot for a 2-0 Islanders lead.
The Oilers scored their first goal in the second period shortly after dodging a bullet. The Islanders almost went up 3-0 when a shot went through Roloson’s legs in the crease. Edmonton immediately took the puck back into the Islanders zone. They scored when Brodziak’s hopeful shot from the corner deflected off the skate of Islanders defenceman Brendan Witt and past MacDonald.
Edmonton’s fourth line got the job done again just three minutes later as Stortini sent a pass from behind the net that was directed in by Strudwick. The goal was reviewed at length as it appeared to have been kicked in, but stood for Strudwick’s first of the season. Ironically, the goal came after Strudwick was originally credited on Brodziak’s goal.
The Oilers took a 3-2 lead midway through the third frame as Marc Pouliot’s shot landed in front of the net and seemed to sit on the doorstep for an eternity before Cogliano swooped in to score his 12th for the game winner.
Notes: It was the only meeting of the season between the two teams Marc Pouliot returned to the Oilers lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion. The same ailment once again kept Edmonton’s leading scorer, Ales Hemsky, out. Shawn Horcoff played despite suffering from back spasms The Islanders were without their leading scorer as well as Doug Weight injured himself in the morning skate in a collision with the goalie. He joins a long list of New York players on the shelf at the moment including Andy Hilbert (fractured foot), Frans Nielsen (leg), Mike Sillinger (hip), Nate Thompson (fractured ankle), Radek Martinek (shoulder) and Andy Sutton (broken foot) If the Islanders fall again in Calgary on Thursday, they will move within one loss of matching their franchise-worst 15-game road skid, set during the 1972-73 season The Oilers wowed a sold out crowd at their skills competition on Sunday as two players set unofficial league records for the event. Erik Cole raced to a fastest ever skating lap of 13.1 seconds and Sheldon Souray unleashed a shot clocked at 106.7 miles per hour, tying a mark held by Chad Kilger.