SUN Hockey Pool

Garon's net worth soars

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

CALGARY -- They Edmonton Oilers didn't even want to think about what a loss meant.

Fortunately, they don't have to.

Haunted and inspired by the prospect of a defeat in Calgary, the embattled Oilers turned in their most inspired 60 minutes of the season.

Riding the sensational netminding of Mathieu Garon, a rejuvenated power play, fired-up efforts from their kids and two third-period goals from Shawn Horcoff, the Oilers overcame an equally-desperate Flames team 4-2 last night at the Saddledome.

"We needed that, that was a big win for us," said Horcoff, who led by example on a night when the team needed it most.

"We had all four lines going, it was a complete team effort, and much needed. We played like we wanted it."

With both teams entering the contest on four-game losing streaks, nobody could afford to let this game get away. In the end, Edmonton had the tighter grip.

"The most important thing was that guys stepped up who had to step up, guys like Horcoff and Steve Staios," said Andrew Cogliano, who assisted on Edmonton's first two goals.

"They were instrumental in this win. We still took too many penalties, but for the most part we did a pretty good jog. We needed this one to get off the four-game losing skid. All of us realized that and we just pushed a little harder."

The Oilers are still last in the West at 6-10-1, but have closed the gap on Calgary to three points.

It's still a long journey to eighth, but this was a good first step.

"This will go a long way in terms of the standings and drawing Calgary back into the mix with us," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We're in a position where if we put together a few games we're right back to .500 and right in the mix of the division."

Edmonton led at the first intermission after Sam Gagner's centering pass banked in off a Flame to make it 1-0 at 2:09 and Robert Nilsson's one-timer at 19:54 made it it 2-1.

Nilsson's been electric since the Oilers recalled him from Springfield, logging close to 20 minutes a night.

"He played (four) good games, since he's been called up and he's played lots because of it," said MacTavish.

"We really missed that skill level when it dropped off (and he got demoted). When he came back he almost instantly picked up where he left off. I hope that he has it all figured out, and he can continue to give us that skill level."

Calgary peppered Edmonton with 17 shots in the second period, but Garon utilized his Gumby-like flexibility to turn in a couple of highlight reel saves to keep it 2-1 after 40.

"He was unbelievable for us tonight," said Horcoff. "And we're going to need that, especially with the amount of chances we're giving up.When the goaltender is good and you play well defensively, you're going to win the game."

Garon, who faced 39 shots, credited Edmonton's power play, which scored twice and has now connected in three straight games.

"That was huge for us," he said while stripping off his gear after a trip to the Hockey Night in Canada booth.

"We want to turn things around, that's how we have to play. We all have be accountable, we all have a role and tonight the PK and power play, we did a good job."

Ales Hemsky, meanwhile, was lucky to finish the game after absorbing a pair of cheap shots from Robyn Regehr.

The Flames defenceman ran Hemsky into the end wall in the second period, and then pushed him head first into the boards to start the third.

"The situation we're in right now doesn't afford us the luxury of playing vendettas in a tight game, a very important game for us," said MacTavish.

"He picks his spots. He's always running Hemmer through the boards."

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