SUN Hockey Pool

Words of wisdom

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

After putting their heads together yesterday morning at Rexall Place, the Edmonton Oilers got their game together when the Phoenix Coyotes came calling last night.

With the lip service done after being summoned by captain Jason Smith at the end of the morning skate, the Oilers let their actions speak for them when the puck dropped against the Coyotes. They buffed their boots on the backsides of Wayne Gretzky's hockey club 7-1 in a mismatch that was seldom in doubt after the anthems were done.

Inspiring words or what?

"Just relax. Just play our game," said Ethan Moreau, asked what the theme of the heart-to-heart, players-only talk was.

"We have some good players. We have a good team. The guys are just uptight. Some guys are feeling the pressure a little bit. We'll never win that way. We have to make sure our room is loose and we approach games with a lot of confidence."

WALKED THE WALK

The Oilers talked the talk then walked the walk against the Coyotes, who'd beaten them twice in three meetings. Moreau, who scored his first goal in 17 games to make it 3-1 in the second period, led the march on a night everybody fell into line.

Right in step were Marc-Antoine Pouliot, with his first NHL goal, Shawn Horcoff, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Michael Peca, Sergei Samsonov and Radek Dvorak, who put pucks past Curtis Joseph and David LeNeveu in the Oilers most prolific display since they outlasted Vancouver 7-6 Dec. 21.

"We felt like the effort had been there," said Horcoff, whose 2-0 goal on a rebound 3:56 into the game stood as the winner behind a 33-save effort by Dwayne Roloson.

"We were playing well in a lot of areas but the one area we weren't was in the mental errors. We knew if we could shore up the sloppy mental errors we could be successful."

Aside from a lull at the end of the first period when they got loose and satisfied with a 2-0 lead, the Oilers buckled down and had their way in pretty much every aspect of the game in a much-needed reversal of form after a mistake-filled 4-1 loss to Calgary Saturday.

"We've played well. It was just a matter of regrouping and re-focusing," Smith said of his reason for calling the meeting. "We were maybe struggling with being a little bit uptight and we just wanted to loosen up the atmosphere a little bit. We've got a great bunch of guys here and it's a matter of us putting it all together."

After former Oiler Mike Comrie gave the local faithful something else to jeer him about by cutting Edmonton's lead to 2-1 late in the first period, second-period goals by Moreau, Bergeron, Peca and Samsonov turned this one into a laugher to end a four-game homestand.

It's four straight on the road now - with stops in Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit - for the Oilers, who are 38-26-12 for 88 points and still jockeying with Colorado and Vancouver for the fifth through eighth seeds in the Western Conference.

'NEEDED TO RELAX'

"We needed to relax. We've just been so uptight about the position we're in," said Peca, who ended an 11-game goal-scoring drought with the 5-1 goal. "It showed in our play.

"We just came out today and you could see the smiles on the faces of the guys. We just had fun. The result is we're able to play a little bit looser game."

AROUND THE RINK ... Moreau's goal was his first point since he returned from a badly sprained right ankle and just his second goal in his last 36 games ... Dvorak's goal was his first in 15 games ... Samsonov had a goal and two assists and has 5-10-15 in 13 games since being acquired from Boston ... Joseph was pulled in favour of LeNeveu after 40 minutes after allowing the first six goals on 25 shots.


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