Hejda's happy day

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Life's a beach, and then you tie?

For the sun-drenched Edmonton Oilers, that was the opening line of an all-too familiar story with an all-too familiar bad ending.

After back-to-back losses in extra time - OT in Vancouver and a shootout against Dallas - they desperately needed to cull something other than a welfare point out of their latest trip to the fourth period.

When the race is this tight, one point means nothing when the other guys get two.

"Man, did we ever need this," said centre Jarret Stoll, after Ryan Smyth set up a pinching Jan Hejda 1:14 into OT yesterday to give Edmonton a 2-1 victory over the L.A. Kings.

"We couldn't keep losing games in overtime and losing in shootouts. We need these points."

The only person more surprised than Smyth to see the first-year d-man standing at the side of the L. A. crease in overtime was head coach Craig MacTavish.

"You could have picked a lot of Czechs to get the winner, but Jan wouldn't have been the first one out of my mouth," said MacTavish, breathing a huge sigh of relief. "He played well again tonight. Good for him for having the savvy to jump in there, and good for Smytty.

GOOD FEELING

"It's nice to win an overtime game, it's been a while. Too long. The odds start to turn in your favour when you've dropped as many as we have lately."

The Oil, 4-8-2 in their last 14, are five points behind first-place Vancouver in the Northwest Division and, and still 10th in the Western Conference. But they've stopped the bleeding.

"These guys are right on our tail,"said Smyth. "We know we have to start climbing to catch the teams in front of us. It's pretty tight, it's important that we capitalize on getting two points (instead of one)."

Hejda doesn't say much in English, but he didn't have to yesterday.

A GREAT PASS

"I know Ryan has a great pass," he said. "It wasn't hard to score from there. It's nice (to score), but the two points is most important ."

"It was nice to see him jump in and get his first goal as a winner," said Smyth. "He read the play well."

The Kings controlled the balance of play in the first period, outshooting Edmonton 13-7, but it was scoreless after 20 minutes.

"Roli was really at the top of his game," said MacTavish. "We needed that game from him tonight."

Edmonton controlled the second, outshooting the Kings 15-3 through the first 16:30, but L. A. goalie Mathieu Garon was equal to the task. He made a number of five-bell saves, but didn't have an answer for Jarret Stoll's one-timer from the half-boards on a power play.

The Oilers came out for the third period playing not to lose, or trying to win 1-0.

The Kings tied it six minutes into the third period when Pushkarev Konstantin stripped Mathieu Roy of the puck in Edmonton's corner and then made it to the slot in time to deflect home his first career goal.

L. A. outshot the Oil 14-6 in the third, but Dwayne Roloson got them to OT.

LATE HITS ... The Kings give up 3.47 goals a game when Dan Cloutier (on the IR with knee and hip injuries)plays and 2.85 when Garon is between the pipes.


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