Stoll stars in circle

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

What went wrong?

Jarret Stoll could only laugh out loud at that question after he dominated the Vancouver Canucks in the faceoff circle Saturday, going 21-1 on the dot in a 3-1 win.

What about the one - Stoll lost a draw to rookie Ryan Kesler 14 minutes into the third period - that got away?

"I don't know. He just beat me clean," shrugged Stoll. "I knew I didn't really lose one clean until I lost that one.

"A lot depends on possession, too. I got lucky a couple times with my wingers jumping in to get possession of it."

Stoll ended a 13-game goal-less drought with the winner, but the buzz in the post-game scrum was about a display in which Stoll was an unheard of 95% in the circles.

"Once you feel it, you know you're going to win it," said Stoll, who credits some of his mastery on the dot to a season spent watching Adam Oates play.

IF YOU START GOOD ...

"If you lose the first couple, you know you're going to have a battle the rest of the game. If you start good ..."

At 60.3%, third-best in the entire NHL, success is nothing new for Stoll, but there isn't anybody who can remember a player putting up better numbers than 21-1 since stats have been recorded.

"As a centre, when I was winning a lot of my draws, normally I was playing well," coach Craig MacTavish said. "It goes hand in hand.

A HUGE ADVANTAGE

"In a puck possession game, starting with the puck that often is a huge advantage, especially factoring in the fatigue level of Vancouver. They were chasing the puck most times off the faceoff. That becomes taxing."

Michael Peca, who was 8-4 Saturday and sits eighth in the league at 57%, went 15-1 for 93% in a 2-1 win over San Jose at Rexall Place Nov. 21.

Shawn Horcoff is the third Oilers pivot in the top 20 of faceoff stats. He sits 16th at 54%.

WET BLANKET: The Oilers have thrown a wet blanket over opponents in their last three games, allowing just 51 shots on goal in that stretch.

They held the Canucks to just 17 shots in front of Mike Morrison, including just one in the third period.

"Instead of having to make seven or eight big-time saves, you might only need to make two," said Morrison. "If you get 40 shots a night, you're going to lose more than you win."

Saturday's stinginess came after the Oilers outshot Columbus 28-19 in Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss. They beat Phoenix 4-3 in a shootout at the Glendale Arena Jan. 29, giving up just 15 shots.


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