EDMONTON – Usually when a team scores in the final minute it has meant a loss for the Edmonton Oilers this season.
Not this time. Ryan Potulny scored the only goal of the game with just 17 seconds left on the clock as the Oilers won their second in a row, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 Wednesday night. With Philadelphia’s Darroll Powe in the penalty box, Sam Gagner sent a backhand pass to a hard-driving Potulny, who shovelled his 12th goal of the season past Flyers goaltender Leighton.
“We battled all game and worked hard, we deserved that one,” Potulny said. “We had a little luck tonight, but it’s about time for us. It’s just nice to get a win.”
Jeff Deslauriers stopped 33 shots to earn his second shutout of the season for the Oilers (18-31-6) who have now won both of their games in February after failing to win once in the entire month of January.
The Oilers, last in the NHL, have just three wins in their last 23 games.
“When you lose 12 or 13 in row it does a lot to your confidence late in games,” said Gagner. “Being able to pull that one out against Carolina gave us a lot of confidence and it showed. Tonight we weren’t tentative, we were playing aggressive right to the very end. We were able to draw a penalty and score on the power play.”
Leighton made 26 stops for the Flyers (28-24-3), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
“The team played well in front of me,” Leighton said. “Defensively, we’re playing well, blocking shots, and our penalty kill was good tonight. They kinda got a lucky bounce at the end, the guy (Sam Gagner) feeds it across and (Mike Richards) is right there but their guy barely taps it in. It’s a tough loss.”
Richards felt he had to take part of the blame for the final goal.
“It was a missed assignment on my part. We had a lot of chances and couldn’t score. It’s disappointing.”
There was no scoring in the first period, though Philadelphia had its chances.
The Flyers came close to getting on the board midway through the first as Danny Briere picked the pocket of Oilers defender Denis Grebeshkov in front of the net but was stopped by Deslauriers.
Then with four minutes left Mike Richards shot at a wide-open net but sent the puck through the crease instead, causing the Flyers captain to look skyward in disbelief.
Philadelphia had 14 first period shots on Deslauriers with Edmonton putting 11 on Leighton in the Flyers net.
The Flyers continued to dominate the quality chances in the second period, particularly on a power play with six minutes left, but Deslauriers stood his ground. He then caught a break with just over a minute left as Lukas Krajichek hit a post to keep the game scoreless after 40 minutes.
Ethan Moreau had a chance to get Edmonton on the board with six minutes left in the third, but his shot deflected off a leg on its way into the net.
The Oilers dodged a bullet late in the third as defenceman Alex Plante, playing just his second NHL game, put a puck into the stands with five minutes to play and was called for delay of game, but Edmonton was able to kill off the penalty.
“I hate that call,” Oilers head coach Pat Quinn said. “We should be able to determine a deliberate move on that, but not an automatic. But our guys rallied and did a pretty good job there.”
The Oilers begin a five-game trip in Minnesota on Thursday while the Flyers wrap up their three-game journey on Saturday, also in Minnesota.
Notes: The Flyers last beat Edmonton on March 19, 2001. The Oilers had five wins and a tie in the last six contests between the teams coming into Wednesday’s match… The Oilers haven’t won back-to-back games since they went on a five-game winning streak from Dec. 3-11… Edmonton Defenceman Sheldon Souray had surgery on Tuesday to repair the bones that were fractured in his fight with the Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla… Flyers defenceman Lukas Krajicek played in his second game since joining the team as a free agent signing. Krajicek was brought in to help with blue-liners Ryan Parent (back) and Danny Syvret (shoulder) out with injuries… Michael Leighton started in net for the Flyers, replacing Ray Emery, who had started in eight consecutive games since returning from abdominal surgery on Jan. 17. Emery, who did not dress for the game, has never faced the Oilers… Philadelphia winger Dan Carcillo played in his 200th NHL game.