SUN Hockey Pool

Tumbleweeds in desert

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

PHOENIX -- It was just like the playoff atmosphere in Edmonton.

Of course, Edmonton missed the playoffs last year, and Rexall Place sat dark and empty in May, so you have some idea of what it was like last night at Jobing.Com Arena in Phoenix.

With maybe 900 or 1,000 fans in a cavernous arena built to seat 17,500, head coach Craig MacTavish looked around the place and joked to one of his youngsters about not getting nervous in a big league rink.

"I said to Liam Reddox before the game, 'have you ever played in front of this many?' " grinned MacTavish. "No response was necessary."

Not that there was much to see in a low-intensity, no-hitter that Edmonton came back to win 2-1 in a shootout.

Phoenix scored 89 seconds into the game and not a whole lot happened after that until Edmonton tied it on Tom Gilbert's goal at 2:32 of the third.

Marty Reasoner's shootout goal clinched it for the Oilers, who were outshot 40-23.

"It wasn't a Picasso, but I was happy with a lot of the individuals," said MacTavish. "We had some guys play well, though. Tom Gilbert played really well. Schremper (Rob Schremp) played good again tonight, made a nice play in goal and (Mathieu) Garon, he was the story tonight.

"He was outstanding, he gave us a chance to win the game going into the third period. I've liked Garon in the games that he's played. He's going to give us some high level goaltending."

Garon, who took a hard shot off the mask early in the game, didn't flinch all night.

"I'm really happy, we played really well, killed a lot of penalties," he said. "They had three or four five on threes and (killing them) made the difference."

And the crowd?

"When I was in L.A., we played here four times a year," said Garon. "It's only pre-season, but this is always a quiet place. As a player you don't pay attention to that ... but there were not too many fans."

Sam Gagner, playing for the first time without Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner, still made a lot of things happen. He hit the post midway through the game and just missed wide in overtime.

MacTavish will ice a lot more veterans tonight at home against the Calgary Flames as he begins to slash the numbers. Expect a wave of cuts in the next 24 hours.

"We want to cut down to five lines, nine defencemen and two or three goaltenders."

ICE CHIPS ...

MacTavish doesn't expect Anson Carter in the lineup tonight, meaning it's unlikely he'll play the final preseason game Saturday ... The Dogs are having serious trouble drawing fans, and now it looks like their opening night promotion - all fans get a free jersey - is in trouble. If the D'backs clinch a playoff spot, they'll open their playoff series at home the same night.


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