SUN Hockey Pool

Moreau shoots 'em up

Edmonton Oilers' Chris Pronger (left) high-fives teammate Ethan Moreau (18) as they celebrate with...

Edmonton Oilers' Chris Pronger (left) high-fives teammate Ethan Moreau (18) as they celebrate with teammates Fernando Pisani (left), Marc-Andre Bergeron (bottom, centre) and Marty Reasoner after Moreau scored the game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Playing in Commonwealth Stadium was fun and everything, but it's better to be kicking butt than freezing it off.

Ask Ethan Moreau. The last time the Montreal Canadiens came to town they hung a heartbreaker on the Edmonton Oilers, triggering a downward spiral that would eventually swallow their season.

And for 40 minutes last night, it looked like they were going to do it again.

That's when Moreau started with the butt kicking.

INSPIRED THIRD PERIOD

In an inspired third period that wasn't Heritage, but was totally classic, Moreau played the role of angry veteran power forward to perfection, rallying the Oilers for a three-goal comeback and a 5-3 win.

"Mac put a lot of pressure on us to come out and win that game," said Moreau, who assisted on the tying goal, wired the winner over Jose Theodore's shoulder at 18:57 and punished everything that got in his way.

"We thought it would be a turning point in our season, to show our character and come back and win a game we should have won."

It was as complete a night as you'll get, the kind of effort every coach likes to bottle and bring out whenever he's trying to teach his players how to win.

"Just the way Ethan is playing the game," said Craig MacTavish, whose team improved to 17-11-4, four points back of division leading Vancouver. "You can't help but get inspired watching that type of effort from the guy. He creates something almost every time he touches the puck out of grit, hard work and intensity. It's a great example for everybody and I'm happy to see him get rewarded for it."

It's the second time in four games that Moreau, who extended his point streak to five games (3-4-7) and held Montreal's power play to 1-for-7, put the team on his shoulders and banked two points. His two shorthanded goals in Philly were the foundation for a 3-2 decision last week.

"That's two games he pulled out of the fire for us," said MacTavish. "It's the same guy that provides the inspiration for us to get the win."

Moreau, the Oilers MVP in 2003-04, usually saves his best stuff for the right moment, and with Edmonton struggling at home and no room for error in the Western Conference standings, yesterday was the right moment.

"He's got a nose for the big game," said defenceman Steve Staios. "He steps up. You kind of expect it from him now."

He wasn't one man acting alone, linemate Fernando Pisani scored his fourth and fifth goals in the last five games, Marty Reasoner had two assists, Raffi Torres scored his 13, Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his seventh and Ty Conklin outduelled Theodore to help Edmonton fight back from a 3-1 deficit. But Moreau was the straw that stirred the drink.

'IT'S PROFESSIONALISM'

"It's professionalism, it's being prepared, it's being fit, it's having the intensity and now he's got the confidence," said MacTavish, who threw him out there for 19:54. "Defencemen don't want to engage him because they know they're going to get bruised. When he gets tramping down the left side it's a pretty formidable task to get in front of him to stop him because you know he's going to get pissed off if you take it from him."

The Habs jumped out to the 3-1 lead after 24 minutes on goals from Garth Murray, Michael Ryder and Chris Higgins, but the Oilers rallied for four straight.


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