Mystery solved

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger had plenty to celebrate in yesterday afternoon's win over...

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger had plenty to celebrate in yesterday afternoon's win over the Nashville Predators. (Edmonton Sun/Darry Dyck)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Deja-vu they didn't need.

Still stinging from getting stiffed by Curtis Sanford of St. Louis two games ago, the Edmonton Oilers spent 40 minutes staring uncomfortably at the shaft again when Tomas Vokoun and the Nashville Predators came calling at Rexall Place yesterday.

With 29 shots, but just one goal on the scoreboard after two periods, the Oilers were facing another headline about having a solid effort trumped by hot goaltending.

At least until Chris Pronger scripted a different storyline and pumped two pucks past Vokoun on power plays, including the winner with 43 seconds left in overtime, to lift the Oilers to a 3-2 victory.

If at first you don't succeed ...

"I can't remember the wins being as tough to come by as they are now," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"It would have been feasible to say, 'Here we go again. We're throwing all the rubber at the net and we can't get a break.' We just had to continue to be committed to getting it there. The mentality at that point is you have to make it happen."

Beaten by Sanford 4-2 Wednesday despite outshooting the Blues 37-12, the Oilers brought the rubber again, outshooting Nashville 42-20, finally prevailing when Pronger sifted a point shot past Vokoun.

BEEN THE STORY

Pronger, who came within a goalpost of his first career hat trick, got his team to the extra frame with the 2-2 goal 6:49 into the third period.

"It's kind of been the story the last 10 or so games," Pronger said of some efforts that had hit the wall at the goal crease.

"Coming in after the second period, we thought we'd played pretty well and had some great chances on the power play. We missed a couple of empty nets.

"Pucks were sitting there and we weren't able to get a handle on it."

Guilty of 17 giveaways in the first period, the Oilers were lucky to escape the first 20 minutes trailing just 2-1 as Scottie Upshall and Paul Kariya put pucks behind Ty Conklin, while Ryan Smyth tapped a goalmouth pass from Jaroslav Spacek past Vokoun on a power play.

The Oilers got their heads into it and played with more conviction after the first intermission.

Aided by four power plays, they outshot Nashville 19-4 in the second period, but couldn't put a dent in Vokoun.

"We didn't want to come in here after the game and say that a goalie beat us again," said Jarret Stoll, who slipped a pass over to Pronger for the OT winner.

"It's happened too much lately where we've outshot a team and come up short. We found a way to put the puck in the net and we got it done."

Vokoun, who beat Vancouver 3-1 with 41 saves Thursday, gave the Oilers nothing.

He stiffed Shawn Horcoff four minutes into the third period on a point-blank attempt with the Oilers, killing a penalty to Fernando Pisani for running the Nashville stopper - Pisani, at least, crossed the goal-line.

SET THE TABLE

Pronger set the table for OT when he bulged twine in the third with Smyth setting a screen in front, then closed the deal when he one-timed Stoll's feed past Vokoun on the glove side.

"You have to go out in the third period and have the mentality anything short of a win is not going to be enough," said MacTavish, who had backup Mike Morrison readying himself for the shootout when Pronger scored.

"You have to go out there and make it happen. Quite clearly, after two periods, it wasn't going to fall to us."

AROUND THE RINK: Smyth finished the season series against Nashville with four goals in four games ... Michael Peca (strained groin) missed his sixth straight game ... Marty Reasoner, cut for 30 stitches in the right ear by a Pronger slapshot Friday, was in the lineup.


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