SUN Hockey Pool

Shootout the Sharks

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- It seemed akin to throwing blood in the water when the Edmonton Oilers filed into The Tank last night to face the ravenous San Jose Sharks.

On a three-game losing streak, playing in a rink where they'd won just once in the last eight visits and with Mike Morrison making his first NHL start in a month, the Oilers were facing a team that had won six of its last seven games, four straight at HP Pavilion and had moved to within six points of them after seemingly being dead in the water six weeks ago.

It shaped up like a feeding frenzy, but a funny thing happened on the way to the Oilers picking triangular teeth out of their backsides -- they beat the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout on goals by Michael Peca and Ryan Smyth and a stellar night from Morrison.

Bite me.

"It feels good," said Morrison. "Not just for me, although I'm happy to win and be back here, but from a team standpoint. Everybody knows we needed a win and we needed it against this team."

Morrison, back from oblivion - or at least Greenville of the ECHL - stopped Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in the shootout to shock the Sharks and snap the Oilers skid.

"We're focusing on the details of the game and not really worrying about the results," coach Ron Wilson said of the Sharks climb back into playoff contention.

"If we play the kind of hockey weire capable of and don't lose that attention to detail, the results are going to be there. We've been playing great for six weeks and we've hardly made up any room. We've got some games in hand, but they're only good if you make them count."

The Oilers were workmanlike and opportunistic in taking the crowd and the buzz out of The Tank in the first 11 minutes as Shawn Horcoff and Steve Staios provided a 2-0 lead.

Horcoff got the power play, blanked on five attempts in Monday's 3-1 loss to Buffalo, back on the board when he coaxed a rebound of Chris Pronger's point shot past Vesa Toskala at 8:21.

Then, with a delayed penalty about to be called against San Jose, Steve Staios beat Toskala from the top of the circles.

Joe Thornton cut the lead in half when he banged Jonathan Cheechoo's rebound past Morrison on a shot the Oilers stopper had no chance on 4:17 into the second. No problem. Smyth restored a two-goal cushion less than three minutes later with a deflection of Chris Pronger's point shot - at least the Oilers thought he had.

Referee Dennis LaRue didn't see it that way, ruling Smyth tipped it with a high stick. LaRue's call stood under video review, join was jumping again and the Sharks were coming hard.

After killing a 5-on-3 advantage by the Oilers, the Sharks got even 8:05 into the third when Milan Michalek took a feed from Cheechoo, cut in on Morrison and lifted it over him on the glove side. Sweet move.

"We had one bad month where we kind of let things go and we fell behind the eight-ball right off the start," said Cheechoo. "We've been battling back ever since and slowly gathering momentum."

Morrison got the Oilers to the shootout with a point-blank pad save on Scott Hannan in the final ticks of overtime, then stopped Marleau in the shootout to make the goals by Peca and Smyth stand up.

"When you get to the shootout you're relying on goaltending and Mike gave us that," Smyth said. "He made some really key saves for us."


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