The race for eighth had all the thrills of a turtle race, but in the end it’s where you place and for Edmonton and their fans there will be more hockey to be played after the regular season ends on Tuesday night.
Ales Hemsky probably didn’t know it when he raised his stick in the air in celebration of a winning goal, but his marker with 34 seconds to go in the third period put his Oilers in the win column and as the night went on it had put them in the playoffs.
Hemsky put a shot behind J. S. Giguere late in the third period, the fourth time he’s scored a game winning goal on behalf of the Oilers.
Edmonton had time to shower and maybe hit Boston Pizza for a late dinner before they would find out that the Vancouver Canucks had eliminated themselves from the playoffs with a loss to the San Jose Sharks.
With a playoff spot assured now, the Oil has their eyes focused on a possible jump to seventh place, they could jump ahead of the Colorado Avalanche should the Avs continue their losing ways on the Western Canada swing, the Avs play in Vancouver on Saturday night and wrap up the regular season in Edmonton on Monday.
For MacTavish and his crew, there may yet be one more meaningful game in the regular season, a chance to keep some momentum going and improve their place in the Western standings.
Regardless of the outcome this weekend though, it’s all well again in Oil land, they have made the playoffs, a brand new season beckons, an opportunity to prove that the playoff magic is back in Northern Alberta.