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February 4, 2012 | 10:03pm ET
Oilers riding high out of All-Star break
By Jimmy Kerr, Edmonton Correspondent
TheFourthPeriod.com

EDMONTON, QC -- For a minute there, it looked like the NHL All Star break had come at the worst possible time for the Edmonton Oilers.

Fresh off a crushing 6-2 defeat on home ice at the hands of the Calgary Flames on January 21, the Oil regrouped with a 2-1 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks the following Monday and a 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks a day later.

While that might not sound like a crowning achievement in some hockey cities, consider that it had been almost two months since the last time the team picked up points in consecutive games.

"For us, that Calgary game was kind of a breaking point," Oilers forward Taylor Hall told 630 CHED last week. "We didn't want to play like that anymore and these last two games have been very good. It's really kind of nice to go into the break feeling good about yourself, feeling good about your own game."

While Hall hasn't been scoring as much as he'd like to of late, with just two goals in his last five outings, he was the shootout hero last Monday and managed to pot the game-winner as the Oilers emerged from the break with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

"Our compete level, our passion, our determination is going to have to be on every night and that's not that hard," said Hall after the loss in Vancouver. "If you're hurt or if you're not feeling good, you can always bring passion to the game, that's just something that has to be mandatory with our team and the last two games are a sign of that."

Another player who has been solid for the Oilers lately, other than Sam Gagner, of course, is goalie Devan Dubnyk -- he made 44 stops against the Sharks and 33 against the Canucks, before backstopping the Oil to that Tuesday victory over the Avs with another 30-plus save night.

Dubnyk's strong play with a depleted defensive core in front of him is a great sign for the team, especially since things are finally looking up on the injury side of things.

After missing 14 games due to ongoing ankle issues, defenceman Ryan Whitney just got back into the lineup and may soon be joined by fellow blueliners Cam Barker and Tom Gilbert, who have also missed time with ankle injuries. Rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be back soon as well, though a bout of the flu has delayed his return.

It has been another challenging season so far in the City of Champions, but here's hoping the Oilers can come charging out of the All-Star break refreshed, recharged, and most importantly, reloaded.

Jimmy Kerr is the Edmonton Correspondent for TheFourthPeriod.com.

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