SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers make it to playoffs

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

Detroit? Dallas? It doesn't matter.

All the Edmonton Oilers know is they've earned a ticket to the Western Conference playoffs, be it a first-round date with the Red Wings or yet another two-step in Texas with the Stars.

Either way, they'll be there.

It took 81 games, but the Oilers grabbed the post-season berth that's slipped in and out of their grasp for weeks when they edged the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 2-1 at Rexall Place last night and the San Jose Sharks eliminated the Vancouver Canucks from playoff contention with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory.

With 93 points after getting the better of the Mighty Ducks for the fourth straight time this season on Ales Hemsky's goal with 34 seconds to play, the Oilers sit three points up on the Canucks, who choked on another lead and can't catch them now.

Motor City? Big D? Whatever. They're in.

"I haven't ever been involved in anything like this," coach Craig MacTavish said. "Just the emotional fluctuations.

"Games you feel like you should win and you don't. Games you feel like you're going to have a tough time and you do win. It's been completely random this year."

40TH SEASONAL WIN

Their 40th win in the books thanks to Hemsky's heroics, all eyes in the Oilers dressing room were fixed on the game between the Canucks and Sharks in San Jose.

With the Oilers in front of the tube, the Canucks hit the ice for the third period up 3-2 and knowing they had to win to force the sweepstakes for the final playoff spot to an 82nd game for both teams, but a goal by Matt Carle beat them with the winner, ending the drama.

"We left it a little bit late, but we're in and that's the bottom line," said Ryan Smyth. "Everyone is at ground-zero now and, hopefully, we can get a game in on Monday and go from there."

Hemsky set up prime time in the players lounge when he took a pass from Jarret Stoll, cut in off the wing and snapped a puck five-hole past J.S. Giguere at 19:26.

"We stayed patient and we stayed on them," said Stoll. "It was a great goal by Hemmer. We finally did something for ourselves that's positive. It's a great two points."

Hemsky's goal gave the Oilers a season sweep of the Mighty Ducks, who have lost 12 straight games here dating back to 1999, but far more significant, it set the stage for Vancouver's fold job at The Tank.

Ethan Moreau gave the 39th capacity crowd of the season something to yell about just three minutes in when he cut in from right wing and fired a shot low to the stick side past Giguere.

On their heels much of the period, the Mighty Ducks pulled even on a bit of a softy as Andy McDonald took a Teemu Selanne pass and fooled Dwayne Roloson top shelf on the glove side from the top of the circle.

'PRETTY CALM'

"We've been pretty calm and upbeat the last two days since we got back from Detroit," said Smyth, who had five shots but was held off the score sheet.

"We knew we had to rebound at home. We felt in this locker room that we were capable of going out there and winning this game tonight."

Roloson made amends midway through the second period, stiffing Joffrey Lupul on a quick shot from the slot with a glove save with Radek Dvorak in the bin for delay of game to keep it even through 40 minutes.

The Oilers had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just over 12 minutes into the third when Chris Kunitz took a double-minor for raking Chris Pronger with his lumber on a face-off, but the Oilers never really got a good crack at Giguere in the ensuing four minutes.

Then came Hemsky, and more drama on the box ...


Videos

Photos