Red light delight for Oilers

Edmonton Oilers' Joffrey Lupul (right) celebrates with teammates Marc-Andre Bergeron (47) and Petr...

Edmonton Oilers' Joffrey Lupul (right) celebrates with teammates Marc-Andre Bergeron (47) and Petr Sykora after scoring against the Atlanta Thrashers during second period action at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Sunday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:44 PM ET

At this stage they're all important.

But when the next one is the first one of a two-week, seven-game trip out East, last night's 5-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers meant a little more.

"You have to be able to win in your own building if you're going to get back into it," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Now we go on the road and we have to have a good road trip. But at least you start to build some momentum going forward. We won a couple of games in a row and we have to keep it going."

Tomorrow the Oilers take on the Boston Bruins in a swing through the Northeast Division.

Last night the Oilers caught the Thrashers on a swing of their own, having played the previous night in Vancouver in the second of a six-game set.

GOOD HOCKEY

"We're playing good hockey," said Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff. "As a team we're starting to figure out what it's going to take. I was impressed with our third period, which has to be a lot better because every game coming down the stretch is going to be a lot more tight than they were tonight. We have to be good in those third periods."

Three goals in the second period paced the Oilers to the win, and lifted them back to within six points of a playoff spot.

The recently acquired Eric Belanger opened the scoring for the Thrashers in the first period. At least he got credit for the goal after Fernando Pisani kicked the puck into his own net.

Ryan Smyth tied the game later on the power play, getting hold of a loose puck in close and putting it past Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg.

In the second, a Marc-Andre Bergeron blast, Marc Pouliot snapshot and Joffrey Lupul bank job put the Oilers comfortably ahead. Raffi Torres added the Oilers fifth goal on the power play in the third.

Defensively, the Oilers kept the Thrashers big guns quiet. Dwayne Roloson finished with 29 saves on a night where the Thrashers took turns taking runs at the Oilers goaltender.

Of the Thrashers nine penalties, three of them were for goaltender interference.

"We've been playing better hockey in all areas the last little while," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios. "Tonight was an example where we gave up some shots but nothing from the high scoring areas.

COMMITMENT

"I think as long as we have that kind of commitment to defence Roli is going to be there. He's great positionally and in controlling his rebounds. That's the type of game that we need to play right now."

The only negative part of the win was losing Pisani in the second period.

He was caught with his head down and drilled by Thrasher's defenceman Andy Sutton. Pisani was down for a while, had to be helped off and didn't return suffering a mild concussion.

It is not known whether he'll leave with the team.

"I think I have issue with guys taking runs like that at players," MacTavish said. "I didn't think it was a dirty hit, but he was trying to hurt him, I think. If you're going to throw your body around like that, you should be forced to back it up."

Later in the period Lupul took a shot on the collarbone and headed to the bench. He returned and scored on his next shift.

It was Lupul's first goal in five games and 15th on the season.

"This was big," Lupul said. "We knew we needed to win these last two games because it will be a long road trip. "


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