Oil Kings no easy pickin's

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

It had set up nicely for the Edmonton Oil Kings to extend their winning streak to a franchise-high four games.

All they had to do was beat a Prince Albert Raiders team that's currently in the can.

And while the Oil Kings made hard work of it, they were able pull out a 5-3 victory last night at Rexall Place.

"One word comes to mind after that and it's character," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau. "We've battled all the adversity that you could, and we prevailed and found a way to win."

Coming into the contest, the Raiders had lost seven straight and eight of their last 10. They had only won two games on the road all season and were coming off a 3-1 loss in Saskatoon on Friday extending their road futility skid to 11 consecutive games.

But the Oil Kings spotted the visitors a 2-0 lead, then fell behind 3-2 before scoring three unanswered goals in the third period for the victory.

"I don't know what it is with our guys," Pleau said. "We seem to squeeze our sticks, we seem to be a little nervous in the first period and we can't dictate the tempo of the game and we have to do something about that.

"But we respond well. We hung in there, and for the last 40 minutes, I thought we dictated the tempo of the game."

FOUR STRAIGHT

It's the first time the Oil Kings have won four consecutive games since last November. They had been unable to string together three straight wins since then until beating the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday.

Last night, the Raiders opened the scoring as Justin Bernhardt was able to tuck in a shot on the short side on Oil Kings goaltender Torrie Jung. Ryan MacDonald extended the lead later in the period, getting another shot past Jung on the short side while on the power play.

"We have to come out of the gate a little stronger than that obviously," said Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk who had three assists on the night. "After the first period, there was nothing we could do about it, but come out stronger in the second period and we were able to do that and we won the game."

In the second the Oil Kings were able to battle back, as Tomas Vincour finished off a sweet give-and-go passing play with Pysyk. Brenden Dowd then tied the game on a short-handed breakaway sliding the puck through the pads of Raiders goaltender Steven Stanford.

"I got the same move every time," Dowd said. "It's my shootout move I like to use it a lot on the breakaway, and I knew from the get-go it was what I was going to do, so it was a matter of executing it.

"Sometimes you think about it too much when you have that much time, but I practice that move all the time in practice. Our goalies know I'm going to do it, but I still like to try it. It's fun to do."

PLAYING CATCH-UP

Before the end of the period, the Raiders regained the lead as Jordan Rowley's point shot on the power play deflected up and over Jung's shoulder.

Dowd tied the game on the power play in the third period, getting to a loose puck in front of the net following a scramble and firing it over Stanford. It was one of three power-play goals the Oil Kings would go on to score on the night.

"We knew if we were able to get the puck down low, we could get their defencemen to run around a little bit, they're a little bit slow compared to some other teams," Dowd said.

"If we could make them move their feet down low, then get pucks to the net and take those shots - they don't have to be pretty goals as long as we were able to get those shots on net. That's what counts. We had to get those pucks on net and get that goalie moving side-to-side."

Brandon Lockerby gave the Oil Kings the lead with just over five minutes left in the third period as his point-shot bounce in off a couple of Raiders defenceman and past Stanford.

Craig McCallum added the insurance marker, busting in off the wing, and lifting a shot over Stanford from in tight.

"I thought Craig McCallum was the best player on the ice," Pleau said. "That's the best game I've seen him play since he got here. I thought he was absolutely outstanding."


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