Saturday, March 27, 2004

OILERS win big, pull into seventh place

Kevin Lowe’s trading deadline shopping trip has paid off big dividends for the Oilers, as Petr Nedved put the go ahead goal behind Roman Chechmanek in the second period. It was Nedveds 300th career goal in the NHL. More importantly for the Oilers it was Nedveds fifth goal since joining them for the playoff run, bringing his total points as an Oiler to 11 so far.

Providing the Oilers with the scoring touch that they needed, Nedved is quickly winning fans in the dressing room, along the bench and in the stands. On the short end of tonight’s action were the LA Kings, who with this 3-1 loss have dug themselves a very deep hole in any bid to make the playoffs. Losing their sixth game in a row, they now have only five games left to catch the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot in the West.

Out shooting the Kings 32-19, the Oilers took an early lead gaining a two goal advantage by the 13 minute mark of the first, Fernando Pisani and Ryan Smyth scoring to put the Oil ahead. The Oilers dominated play in the first period marking 18 shots on net compared to the Kings 5. Andy Murray must have motivated the Kings for a bit in the first intermission, as Ian Lapierre, helped the Kings to battle back into the game at 2:33 of the second. The teams would trade chances for the bulk of the period until Nedved put the game away at 18:24 of the second. There would be no scoring in the third.

Ty Conklin continued to hold down the fort in the Oiler end of the ice and while not tested often, he made the big saves when required. With tonight’s win the Oilers have now gained at least a point in their last fifteen games, and move into seventh place in the West. With LA seemingly drifting away from the pack, the final week should provide some exciting moments for the Oilers, the Predators and the Blues (who have a game in hand) as they jockey for the final spots in the NHL West.

With Nedved starting to fire on all cylinders, the Oilers must be feeling fairly optimistic about their chances.

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