Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Gem of a Game

From the opening puck drop the Edmonton Oilers came flying across the ice, six periods later this extraordinary game finally came to an end.

With a pace to the play that had your head spinning, it was hard to believe that any of the players could still be on their feet when the winning goal went into the net, at 2:24 of the third overtime period.

But, when Shawn Horcoff put that winning goal in behind the amazing Vesa Toskala it was a sense of justice finding its rightful home. Horcoff’s winning marker made the final score 3-2 and brought to an end one of the great displays of playoff hockey seen in a long, long time. The Triple over time affair was the Sharks longest overtime game in their history and the third longest for the Oilers.

The Oilers were by far the dominating team in this one; they took charge from the very first moments and finished the job off some six periods later. In a do or die kind of game, which if lost would set the Sharks up for a final playoff kill, the Oilers came out determined to take the play to the Sharks and take the play they did.

They won the battles on the boards, administered some crushing hits and fired puck after puck at the San Jose goaltender. How they couldn’t be more than a few goals ahead by the end of regulation time is testimony to the amazing goaltending that Toskala has brought to the Sharks/

But the Oil have their own amazing stories from the nets, it was a point blank save by Rolonson on Jonathon Cheechoo that kept this game alive, allowing Horcoff the chance to be the hero of Edmonton a little later in the third overtime.

Rolonson seems to gain strength from each shot, he has begun to frustrate a San Jose team that is filled with fire power but suddenly finds itself not only challenged by a hot goaltender but by an entire team, one dedicated to controlling the play in their own end and moving the puck down the ice at the first opportunity,

Game Three seemed destined to belong to the Oilers, they were full value for their win, there is nothing more to be asked of them by their coach Craig MacTavish. Every shift was full tilt, every player involved. They came at the Sharks in wave upon wave of Oiler Blue, storming the net and coming oh so close to filling the San Jose net with pucks.

To their credit, the Sharks bided their time. They didn’t match the Oilers rush for rush, but took the opportunities and made the best of them, they came close on their own to stealing this one from the Oilers, with shots that would deflect just wide, go a little high or fly through a goal mouth untouched.

The Oilers are now back in the series, a vital win that should propel them on to a terrific game four on Friday. They poured so much into Game three, you wonder if they’ll have anything left for Friday, the chance to even up the series and turn it into a best of three however will be more than enough motivation to recharge the batteries and get back to the game plan.

These are two teams which seem so evenly matched, it bodes well for much more excitement to come over the next few games. If ever a series should go seven games this very well may be the one that offers the most excitement and entertainment.

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