SUN Hockey Pool

It all came together

Edmonton Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson celebrates his shutout against the Los Angeles Kings...

Edmonton Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson celebrates his shutout against the Los Angeles Kings during third period action at Rexall Place on Thursday, March 30, 2006. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Not enough goal-scoring? Questionable goaltending?

That disconcerting tandem of trouble and tribulation has too-often been the storyline for the Edmonton Oilers in the stretch drive, but not last night when the Los Angeles Kings came calling at Rexall Place.

Having gone 15 straight games since the Olympic break without scoring more than three goals in a game through regulation and overtime, the Oilers dusted off their hands and the Kings by putting four pucks behind Mathieu Garon.

This, on a night they needed just one, because Dwayne Roloson, who had just four wins in 11 games since coming over from Minnesota at the trade deadline, marked a dozen straight starts in Oilers silks with 20 saves in a 4-0 victory.

Goal-scoring. Goaltending. In the same game.

"I think it's going to help us a lot," said Roloson, who recorded the 18th shutout of his career to make Raffi Torres's 26th goal of the season 1:43 into the game stand as the winner.

"Everybody has been holding their sticks a little tight, myself included. Tonight was just a game where we could go out and play our system. We played smart."

Coming off a frustrating 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, the Oilers got it right at both ends. It was goodbye to the same old, same old, with some new faces leading the way.

Roloson, 5-4-3 since arriving amid expectations he'd be Mr. Fix-It in the crease, had his sharpest outing since the trade on the way to collaring the Kings -- and he added an assist for good measure.

"When was the last time we had a game where it wasn't a stress-filled affair? It's been a long time," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"We really needed a good, complete effort, a 60-minute effort, and we felt we got it."

Then there was Sergei Samsonov, who scored the 2-0 goal and added a highlight reel assist to give him 12 points in 11 games since he came over from Boston. Likewise Jaroslav Spacek, plucked from Chicago in January, who had an assist on the winner by Torres and scored the 3-0 goal.

That was more than enough to squeeze the last gasp out of the Kings, who are five points back of the Oilers and will need a prayer and a respirator to make Western Conference playoffs.

"It's a lot easier to play when the other team is chasing you," said Samsonov. "We had a pretty good effort and Rollie shut the door for us."

On a rare night where they had the luxury of a margin to work with, the Oilers had some fun.

Samsonov was so good, again, it was goofy. His 2-0 goal on a power play in the first period came when he dashed around Brent Sopel and tucked a backhand past Garon. Nice, but a distant second-best to his assist on Spacek's goal.

Wheeling in the Los Angeles end, Samsonov broke his stick, but instead of giving up on the puck, he spun and heel-kicked it to Spacek, who banged his own rebound past Garon on a backhand.

"I think all Europeans play soccer a little bit," smiled Samsonov. "Bounces like that go your way. It's nice to see. It's just one of those things. You need bounces like that to win the game. It's one-in-a-million, you know?"

Torres got the only goal the Oilers would need when he tapped home a goalmouth feed from Jarret Stoll.

"It's huge, obviously," Samsonov said of the benefit of not having to grind out a game to the bitter end. "It's a lot easier to play with a big lead. Once you get a two- or three-goal lead, it's so much easier to play."

ROUND THE RINK ... Ales Hemsky, who left the game against Minnesota with a strained back, scored the 4-0 goal ... the Oilers have killed 28 straight power play attempts ... Marc-Andre Bergeron drew back in after sitting out three games with a sore knee ... Georges Laraque missed his second straight game with a sore hip-flexor.


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