Monkey off Oilers back

Edmonton Oilers forward Petr Sykora celebrates Ales Hemsky's goal against the Phoenix Coyotes...

Edmonton Oilers forward Petr Sykora celebrates Ales Hemsky's goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during third period action at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Monday. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

The fur was flying at Rexall Place last night, and it wasn't just the Phoenix Coyotes playing road-kill again as their carcass hit the ditch in a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers accounted for much of the airborne fuzz, getting a host of monkeys off their back in improving to 5-0-0 at The Rex this season - the team's best start at home since 1986-87.

Jarret Stoll and Shawn Horcoff scored their first goals of the season.

Raffi Torres potted his second, snapping out of a difficult stretch that's seen him demoted from the second line.

POWER PLAY STRIKES

And the Oilers power play, completely unplugged in three previous games, struck twice, snapping a 0-for-21 drought as Stoll's first-period goal served as a double slump-buster.

All that, and a 6-2 record.

"The goal is nice, but we also made some plays tonight," said Horcoff, who got the winner. "Sure, it's nice to get the goal and get the monkey off the back, but our line had numerous chances.

"We were skating well and working well together. Each game, we've been getting better."

Short of a hiccup in the second period - a dilly in which the Coyotes made a game of it - the Oilers were as good as they've been since beating the Calgary Flames opening night.

"I thought it was a good, solid win right from start to finish," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"It got a little dicey in the second period, but we finished off really strongly after they came back. We had a number of chances late in the period and we continued the third period the way we ended the second."

Already up 1-0 after Torres tapped a goalmouth feed past Curtis Joseph, the Oilers went ahead 2-0 when Stoll, whose last goal came April 17 of last season against Colorado, blew a one-timer past Joseph 13:19 into the game to end his slump and get the power play in gear.

REAL POSITIVE

"Any time you chip in and help the team win, it feels good," Stoll said. "That's a real positive."

Horcoff, 12 games without a red-light celebration dating back to last season - April 3 against the Coyotes - made it 3-0 when he grabbed a loose puck and sifted it off the post and past Joseph just over three minutes into the second.

"I like a lot of things about our team," MacTavish said. "One of the things, certainly, is that when guys aren't scoring, they don't ever jeopardize the team game.

"I don't look at the stats all that much, but I know our guys don't cheat the defence to try to get cheap goals."

Having bucked the aforementioned troubling trends through 23 minutes, the Oilers, as has been the case, could not stand the prosperity.

When Jeremy Roenick and fan-favourite Mike Comrie put pucks behind Dwayne Roloson in a span of 2:09 midway through the second, the Oilers were on their heels and this one was up for grabs.

At least until Petr Sykora took a pass from Ales Hemsky and leaned on a shot Joseph had no chance on to make it 4-2.

Sykora capped a four-point night, getting a helper on Hemsky's power-play goal that pushed the score to 5-2.

AROUND THE RINK ...

With back-to-back games in Anaheim and Phoenix tomorrow and Thursday, expect MacTavish to go with Roloson against the Ducks and back-up Jussi Markkanen in the rematch against the Coyotes in Arizona.

RETRO JERSEYS ...

It'll be a flashback to the 1980s and the glory days of the Edmonton Oilers - without the Stanley Cups and parades on Jasper Avenue.

The Oilers plan to unveil and wear retro jerseys, featuring their original blue, orange and white colours, for as many as six games in the second half of the season.

The Oilers are expected to make an announcement about the dates in coming days. Indications are fans will get their first look at the retro duds in February.


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