SUN Hockey Pool

Sick of the Worlds

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:12 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Ryan Smyth was scared that not winning here last night might mean he'd have to go to Riga.

"I'm sick of going to the world championships,'' he said.

Smyth scored one of the biggest goals of his career in overtime here last night to help give him a chance to spend this May playing for Edmonton in the Stanley Cup playoffs instead of catching a plane to Latvia for his eighth straight Worlds.

"Don't get me wrong. I've been fortunate to be asked so many times. I want not to be asked this year because I'm still playing in the playoffs. I take pride in making the playoffs. I've been around the longest and I'm sick of going to the world championships,'' said Smyth.

Smyth scored in overtime after Dwayne Roloson gave up a ghastly goal to put them there and after - unbelievably - the Oilers were hosed with another goal ruled no goal by video replay judges.

"You have to play through adversity. That's what you have to do at this time of year. You have to play through adversity and find a way to win.''

Smyth believes Edmonton can be Calgary this year if the Oilers get in.

"Look at what Calgary did two years ago in the playoffs. I believe we can do that if we get in.''

By scoring two goals and an assist to lead the Oilers to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Smyth may have done just that. The win left the Oilers four points up on the Vancouver Canucks for the final playoff spot. The Canucks have five games left to play and the Oilers have four to go.

Smyth has been a horse all season for the Oilers. And he's been carrying his hockey club on his back heading down the stretch. He's now made it eight games in a row with at least one point.

"In the last two or three weeks, when his line hadn't been as good as they'd been all year, Ryan really stepped up,'' said GM Kevin Lowe.

Thursday in St. Paul, his 34th of the season, a shorthanded goal, was good for one point in the standings. Here last night he scored his 35th and 36th.

"He was unbelievable again tonight,'' said coach Craig MacTavish. "He is more dominant now than at any point of his career and it couldn't come at a better time.''

WAITING FOR THE JUDGES

MacTavish said for Smyth to score the winning goal after what the Oilers went through waiting for replay judges to determine whether or not Fernando Pisani's backhand goal was a goal, said a lot.

"It was almost eerie the way it played itself out,'' he said. "It's great theatre outside of this dressing room. Great drama.

"It was the same in finding out that it was in,'' he said about the TSN commentators being unanimous in that verdict as the people in the press box were.

"But we've been in this situation before. That's what experience is all about. As much as everybody was telling us that puck was in ...''

This time Smyth and his Oilers mates refused to lose.

MacTavish said he wouldn't want to pick the team MVP this year.

"Has Ryan ever been?'' asked MacTavish.

In his 10th full season, it's never happened.

"He's having that kind of season. We wouldn't be in this position without a couple of players - Smytty and Chris Pronger.''

There have been ties before.

"This is the most consistent he's been in his career,'' said Lowe. "Even the year he scored 39, a lot of those were tap-ins on power plays.

"This has been his best year.''

REWARDED FOR LOYALTY

When Lowe and Wayne Gretzky picked the Olympic team, there were a few who figured he was rewarded with his spot because he's played in seven consecutive World Hockey Championships, the last five as Captain Canada, for a record 60 games wearing the red maple leaf at Worlds to go with his two Olympics, World Cup and World Junior with gold medals from all three.

"He was one of our better forwards,'' said Lowe.

If he'd only had a couple goals for Canada like he scored here last night ...

"He was incredible,'' said linemate Shawn Horcoff. "You can always count on big players to come through in big games. Those were playoff style, gritty goals.''

Smyth plays that way every day. But this wasn't just another day.


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