SUN Hockey Pool

Is Smytty okay?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

DENVER -- On a night the Colorado Avalanche were celebrating netminder Patrick Roy's Hall of Fame induction, the Edmonton Oilers had an induction of their own to worry about.

It's been about two weeks since the slumping Oilers inducted their heads in the backsides of their hockey pants, and with one game left on a miserable five-game road swing it was imperative they came up for air before returning home.

Thanks to Ryan Smyth, they can all breathe a little easier. And thanks to John-Michael Liles, they were left gasping in horror as the final seconds ticked down on their 2-1 victory.

The undisputed leader on this team scored two goals less than two minutes apart in the second period to secure the win, then had to be helped off the ice in pain after Liles stuck the knee out on him.

'DANGEROUS PLAY'

"That was a pretty dangerous play on Liles's part," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Obviously a desperation play on his part.

"If Smytty gets by him it's going in the back of the (empty) net, but it was a pretty dangerous play."

The very early diagnosis is a charley horse and Smyth might not miss any time, but it's hard to tell moments after a guy hobbles off the ice.

"You don't know how it's going to swell up." said MacTavish. "And it's going to be awfully painful."

Smyth, back in the training room getting the left knee worked on by trainer Ken Lowe, wasn't available for comment, but that's OK, he did all of his talking on the ice.

With Colorado up 1-0 in the second, Smyth scored a power play goal at 13:42 of and a shorthanded beauty at 15:35.

"Big goals at the right time for us," said Shawn Horcoff, who had another strong game himself. "If there's one guy who scores goals like that for us it's Smytty."

Smyth knocked a rebound out of mid-air, backhanded, on the first one and outlegged Liles to a loose puck for a breakaway on the second.

"Typical Ryan Smyth goals, both of them," said Jarret Stoll.

"Battling hard for the puck, around the net, in front of the net. When you do that you get the bounces and he's getting them."

Smyth has 12 goals on the season, to lead the team, and has four on the road trip (the rest of the team contributed seven). He also had a two-goal game in their only other win, a 4-1 decision in Columbus.

So when he crumped to the ice, there were a lot of hearts in a lot of throats.

"I know Liles and usually he's not like that," said Horcoff. "But there's no room for plays like that. It's a play that could cost a guy a season."

UGLY ROAD TRIP

After going 1-2-1 to start the five-game in seven night swing (you know it's a bad trip when the only team you beat fires its coach), the Oilers salvaged two points for what MacTavish called it the ugliest .500 trip in memory.

You can argue the semantics all day, whether two wins, two losses and an overtime loss for five of a possible 10 points equals .500, but it matters little to them.

"The last win at the end of a long trip is the toughest one," said Jarret Stoll. "We played a pretty sound game."

"It was probably one of our best games on the road this trip," said Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 33 of 34 shots in another great effort. "We just have to take this and learn from all our mistakes on the trip and be ready for Thursday."

The Oilers return home for a seven-game homestand, beginning Thursday against St. Louis.

LATE HITS: Marc-Andre Bergeron returned to the lineup, sending Jan Hejda to the press box ... Joe Sakic also needs one more assist to tie Stan Mikita (926) for 14th place on the all-time NHL assists list.


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