EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oil Kings delivered a serious blow to the Lethbridge Hurricanes playoff hopes with a lop-sided 8-1 win over the Canes Tuesday night at Rexall Place.
Not the start the Hurricanes were hoping for in this game. Just over a minute in, Jordan Hickmott picked up the puck at centre ice and blew into the Lethbridge zone and beating Brandon Anderson low along the ice to give the Oil Kings a very early 1-0 lead. The Canes' would get that one back before the half-way mark of the period. Brody Sutter moved in short-handed on a partial breakaway and put the puck between the legs of Edmonton's Laurent Brossoit to tie the game up at 1-1. That was Sutter's 16th goal of the season. Edmonton would regain the one-goal lead late, when Stephane Legault took a rebound off Anderson and fired the puck top corner to give the home team 2-1. Edmonton held the edge in shots on goal 12-7 after 20 minutes. The Hurricanes had four power play chances in the first period, but were unable to score with the extra man.
In the second, the Edmonton Oil Kings would blow the game wide open. The Oil Kings received an early power play and T.J. Foster made no mistake on a little tic-tac-toe passing play, burying the puck by Anderson for a 3-1 Edmonton lead. The Oil Kings would get two more before the end of the period. First off it was Marek Hrbas who took a nice pass on an odd-man rush up the ice, beating Anderson to make it 4-1. A few minutes after that, Rhett Rachinski took the puck off the side of the Canes' goal and put it over Anderson and in. That would make the score 5-1 Edmonton and that is the way the period would end. Brandon Anderson was pulled from the Lethbridge goal after that 5th Edmonton goal. The Oil Kings out shot Lethbridge 26-17 after 40 minutes of play.
In the third, Edmonton would keep it coming big time. They would add three more in a span of just over two minutes to add a little salt in the Hurricanes wound. Dylan Wruck skated over the Lethbridge blueline and hammered a shot by Dylan Tait to make it 6-1 Oil Kings. Then on a power play, Stephane Legault took a feed from Mark Reners and fired a shot a shot by Tait to put the Oil Kings ahead 7-1. They were not done there either. Not too long after that, Edmonton would go up 8-1 when Travis Ewanyk beat Tait while the Oil Kings were short-handed. That would be the way this game would end. The Oil Kings held the edge in shot 39-23 on the night. Power plays: Edmonton went 2 for 6 and Lethbridge finished the night 0 for 7. Both teams scored once short-handed.
This loss for the Hurricanes really puts this team's playoff hopes in doubt. The Canes' trail Prince Albert by two points with two games to go in the regular season. The Raiders have one game in hand which is on Wednesday when P.A. plays Calgary. For Lethbridge to make the post-season will be tough now, especially with the loss in Edmonton.
The Hurricanes will close out their regular season schedule this weekend with a home-and-away set with the Kootenay ICE. Kootenay has been in a battle with Medicine Hat for the last several weeks for 3rd and 4th spot in the Eastern Conference. The ICE though, likely won't go any higher than 4th place and if that's the case they will meet up with Moose Jaw in the first round of the WHL post-season which begins next weekend. Kootenay has been one of the league's most consistent teams over the course of the last decade or more when it comes to clinching a playoff spot. They don't really have a lot to play for in these final two regular season games, unlike the Hurricanes who are still hoping to find a way to sneak in. Prior to the Friday game at the ENMAX Centre, the Hurricanes will give out their annual player awards. Anyone still wanting to vote for the Canes' Fan Favourite player in 2010-2011 can head to the Hurricanes website. Voting closes on Thursday.
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