Goal for the ages

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

It was a goal which was probably up on YouTube before Ales Hemsky got back to the bench, the kind of goal you download on your new iPod Nano to play back again and again and again.

"I think it was his best," said Shawn Horcoff of the gorgeous goal, Hemsky's second of the game, second of the season and 52nd of his NHL career.

Then there was that, uh, last one. The one he scored in the shootout. The winner.

It, too, probably went directly to YouTube and will be on plenty of iPods. But in terms of being pretty, it was pretty ugly.

Hemsky won the game by completely flubbing his attempt about as spectacularly as you can possibly flub one.

WHIFFED ON IT

Totally fanned on it. Missed it entirely.

Expecting more perhaps, especially after Hemsky's entry for NHL Goal Of The Year, it was understandable if Minnesota Wild netminder Josh Harding was taken aback.

Hemsky's whiff had just enough momentum from being carried from the red line to trickle through the legs of Harding to win the hockey game.

Horcoff, who had two goals and two assists for a four-point night, used almost as much body language describing Hemsky's gorgeous goal as Hemsky used scoring it.

"I thought he lost the puck three times," he said of the moves No. 83 made, deking Kim Johnsson out of his jock strap and into Section 118, Row 12, Seat 7 on the final move.

"I'm saying 'Shoot!' " said Horcoff.

"But he's been shooting the puck a lot this year," he added.

Hemsky took six shots last night for a total of 25 for the first 10 games of the season.

His first goal of the night made him the 22nd player to record 200 points with the Oilers.

His second was only the second time in his NHL career he managed to score two in a game. His third, quite justifiably, didn't count in the scoring stats. So there's no hat trick, although there were plenty of hats thrown on the ice.

Asked to compare Hemsky's gorgeous goal with his shootout winner, coach Craig MacTavish laughed.

"Well, they both went the same place," he said of Harding's five hole.

"Fifty percent of Ales' goals are highlight goals. That one was definitely in that 50. He can make the best of defencemen look pretty silly at times."

The shootout goal?

"I lost it. I lost the puck. I was surprised when it went in," admitted the Czech, who never did raise his hands in the air to celebrate the goal he didn't know was in the net until after he made his turn and heard the crowd react.

"It was lucky. But we needed to get some luck. We needed to get some breaks," he said.

Of all three goals, Hemsky was happiest about his first one which gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead. When you wait 10 games to get your first goal, it looks beautiful regardless.

"I knew it would come but I didn't know when it would come," he said. "I was hoping it wasn't in the 20th game."

In the end, thanks to the veterans on the No. 1 line with Raffi Torres playing as well as either Hemsky or Horcoff, the Oilers took the 16,839 back to the first two games of the season when it was fun to watch them.

ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT

This year was supposed to be about entertainment and excitement. Who'd have ever thought anybody would use those two words in a column after a game against the Minnesota Wild?

This season isn't necessarily supposed to be about success, but about having a ton of fun watching the young talent, the sure-fire stars of the future like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. And about Ales Hemsky, the player many projected to take that last large step toward becoming an NHL superstar this season. Until last night he hadn't taken even a small step.

Hemsky gave himself a good review this night.

"I wasn't all over the place. I was waiting for chance. I don't have to be all over the place."

Horcoff said on nights like last night, Hemsky shows everybody what he can be.

"When he's playing that way, there's not too many players in the game who are any better."


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