EDMONTON – It took just two days in February for the Edmonton Oilers to eclipse their win total from the previous month.
Marc Pouliot and JF Jacques had a goal and an assist each as the Oilers finally ended a 13-game winless streak, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 on Monday night. Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner also scored for the Oilers (17-31-6) who were one game shy of tying a franchise-worst 14-game winless streak, set in 1993. It was also a good start to a new month after the Oilers failed to capture a victory in all of January.
“It’s obviously a great feeling,” Gagner said. “You never want to be in that situation. But it was great to have fun again. It’s only one win. Hopefully it gives us some confidence.”
The Oilers have just two wins in their last 22 games and are five points back of Carolina and Toronto in last place in the NHL.
“It hasn’t been easy and it was certainly not something I expected to happen to this hockey team,” said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. “We’ve had some rough spots in a lot of these games and haven’t held up. We had a couple of rough stretches again tonight but we bent and came back tonight. We had a pretty good outing. It’s something we have to keep building on.”
Andrew Alberts and Jussi Jokinen scored for the Hurricanes (19-29-7), who had won four in a row and five out of six games coming into the match.
“It wasn’t a pretty game to watch from either side,” said Carolina coach Paul Maurice. “The puck was bouncing around a bit out there. I thought we were a bit sluggish out of the gate. We got better as the game went on.
“Cam (Ward) has really been the difference for us the last two weeks but he wasn’t at his ‘A’ game best tonight. But we have to put more than two in as well.”
Carolina scored on its first shot of the game as the Hurricanes won a draw deep in the Oilers zone while playing four-on-four. Alberts scored from the point, beating Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers.
Edmonton tied the game five minutes later as Jacques took a bad angle shot that Ward accidentally directed into his own net with his glove.
The Oilers took a 2-1 lead with five minute remaining in the opening period as Andrew Cogliano took the puck out of the Edmonton zone with a head of steam and sent it to Patrick O’Sullivan, who quickly directed it to Brule for his 12th.
The Hurricanes tied the game up again midway through the second period on the power play as Jokinen walked through the Oiler defence and flipped a soft goal over Deslauriers.
The Oilers went ahead 3-2 as Pouliot snuck out from behind the net and banked the puck off of Ward’s pads and in for his first goal of the season.
Edmonton made it a two-goal game with a power play goal with three minutes left in the middle frame. Ward allowed a big rebound on a kick save on a Mike Comrie shot and Gagner was there to send the puck into the empty net.
The Hurricanes had some good pressure in the third but the Oilers were able to hold on to capture the rare win.
Quinn said he was pleasantly surprised by the rousing cheer from the fans at the end of the game.
“After all this, Edmonton fans are really something,” he said. “The reception that the players got after a month of frustration was just awesome. That is one of the good feelings.”
Both teams return to the ice on Wednesday. The Oilers host Philadelphia and the Hurricanes travel to Calgary.
Notes: This was the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Nov. 1, 2008, when Edmonton won 3-1 in Carolina… With the Oilers sitting in 30th and the Hurricanes tied for 29th in the league coming in, its almost hard to believe these two teams met in the Stanley Cup final in 2006… With Sheldon Souray out with a broken hand after a fight with Calgary’s Jarome Iginla on Saturday and fellow defencemen Steve Staios and Ladislav Smid out with concussions, rookie Alex Plante made his NHL debut in Monday’s tilt. Plante got his first NHL point with a first period assist… Edmonton came into the game with a staggering 306 man games lost to injury… Carolina was absent forwards Scott Walker, Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole with upper-body injuries. Joe Corvo (leg) is hopeful of a return before the Olympic break… Carolina goalie Cam Ward, who hails from nearby Sherwood Park, stopped 129 of 134 shots over his four previous games.