SUN Hockey Pool

Putting the power into the play

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

They worked on it for the better part of practice on Monday.

They talked about it, watched film on it, and listened to opinions on how to improve it.

Then last night, the Edmonton Oilers went out and scored three goals on the power play in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

"I'm just a little dumbfounded by it," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was just a product of a lot of things.

"It was terrific execution. We've seen that level of execution, but not that level of offence to go along with it."

Odd-man goals by Tom Gilbert, Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner equalled nearly half of what the Oilers had scored all year.

They finished 3-for-8 on the night.

Coming in, Edmonton had the worst power play in the league with just seven goals in 82 opportunities.

"Hopefully this is the start of something," Gilbert said. "It's so huge in this league to be able to get one or two power-play goals in a game.

"We were moving the puck really well, we were shooting the puck, we were winning battles down low, and I think that really helped us out tonight."

Gilbert got things going by converting a Geoff Sanderson feed in front.

Sanderson, who is not a regular on the power play, was able to slide the puck to Gilbert on a back-door play on his second attempt.

"I was waiting there the whole time," Gilbert said.

"It was fortunate that it hit the guy and came back to him. It was a great pass by him and if I would have missed that, I would have been pretty disappointed in myself."

Horcoff scored the second power-play goal late in the first period, getting a loose puck in front and snapping a shot past Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

It was Horcoff's third power-play goal of the season.Penner then tied the game on the odd-man advantage, spinning off a check in front and converting a Horcoff pass from in tight.

"We do a lot of work on it," Horcoff said.

"We watched a little bit of video on the best teams and the best power plays in the game.

"We saw how simple it can be if you just run the right routes and make the right plays.

"I think with me and Hemmer (Hemsky) we haven't played too much on the power play together. In the past he's always had his unit and I've been on the other one.

"Now we're getting more comfortable on the half wall and when two guys work together you can really manipulate those defencemen."

Hemsky, who has one power-play goal this season, picked up assists on two of the Oilers three odd-man markers last night.

Monday, he and MacTavish sat and exchanged ideas on what they could do to improve the power play.

"We talked about what we could do better," Hemsky said.

"He asked me what I thought and told me what he thought.

"We've worked a lot on the power play in practice and finally we scored a few goals. When you score a goal early, that just picks up your confidence and you build from that."

It's the first time this season the Oilers have scored three power-play goals in one game and the second time they've netted at least two.

"That's the game right there, if you don't score when you have the advantage, you can't win the games," Hemsky said.

"I think we moved the puck better and had better support. It wasn't static, we attacked the net more and we got some breaks.

"Hopefully we can continue doing that in the rest of our games."


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