Bad start, great end

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:00 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Craig MacTavish played a hunch instead of going with the percentages when he tapped Mike Morrison on the shoulder as his starter against the Vancouver Canucks last night.

It took MacTavish just 7:03 after the puck dropped at General Motors Place to re-think his decision and yank Morrison in favour of Jussi Markkanen. But by then the Edmonton Oilers had spotted the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

That's a lousy game plan against a Vancouver team that arrived at the rink with a 13-1-0 record and six straight wins on home ice.

But it wasn't enough to discourage the Oilers, who overcame spotting the Canucks a deuce not once, but twice, and won a wild one 5-4 in overtime on Michael Peca's goal with just 52 ticks left on the clock.

CONTROLLING THE GAME

Just like MacT drew it up.

"We thought we were controlling the game for the most part," said Peca, who took a pass from Ales Hemsky and lifted it over Maxime Ouellet to shock the Canucks.

"We got ourselves back into it and even though we got down 4-2, we really had a lot of great scoring chances."

When Morrison allowed goals by Matt Cooke and Todd Bertuzzi on the first four shots he faced, MacTavish turned to Markkanen, who'd already beaten the Canucks in the first two meetings of the teams this season.

Better late than never, obviously, but with the Oilers down by a pair and playing from behind, Ouellet, in his first NHL start since Feb. 13, 2004, had some wiggle room.

Ouellet, who's gone from being the 22nd pick by Philadelphia in 1999 to stops in Washington and with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL before being called up when Dan Cloutier ripped up his knee, was solid early, but couldn't hold off the Oilers late.

"The challenge for us in this building has always been to get through the first period," MacTavish said.

"And in our building as well. For whatever reason, they always start quickly against us.

"We're just, at times, a little too respectful. It's almost like two different games - the start and the rest of the game.

''We've got to make sure that we have a good start."

Despite a tough seven minutes by Morrison, whose last four starts have been against Vancouver, Philadelphia, Colorado and Calgary, the Oilers got even on power-play goals by Ryan Smyth and Hemsky, who sifted a wrist shot past Ouellet 7:57 into the second period.

SECOND OF THE NIGHT

Down 4-2 when Bertuzzi notched his second of the night and Anson Carter poked a Mattias Ohlund rebound into the cage in the second period, the Oilers rallied again in the third.

The power play struck for the third time when Marty Reasoner got the Oilers within a goal before Shawn Horcoff, who'd gone 18 games without a goal dating back to Nov. 3, took a pass from Ethan Moreau and blew a slapper past Ouellet shorthanded to tie it at 12:33.

"We were down, but we were playing well, so it wasn't a matter of having to change anything," Moreau said.

"Once we get three of our four lines rolling, we're tough to handle. We just wear teams down."

AROUND THE RINK: Jarret Stoll was cut on the right cheek late in the third period when hit by a high stick from Sami Salo, but he's fine.


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