Perseverance pays for Oil

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

There were plenty of times the Edmonton Oilers could have folded, rolled their eyes and thrown another defeat on the growing pile of games in which they probably deserved a better fate.

Like when they blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads. Or when they couldn't score on four straight power plays in the second period. Or when Vancouver went up 4-3 midway through the third.

But instead of going away quietly, like they did two nights earlier against Calgary, last night the Oilers summoned enough spirit and resolve to salvage a 5-4 shootout victory at Rexall Place..

"It was important that we got a win today based on our mental makeup," said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club has been beaten up all over town for the lacklustre effort against the Flames, a 7-12-1 record and 15th place in the Western Conference.

"We needed to stop the disappointment and get something positive."

This helps.

"I thought we were very composed tonight," said Shawn Horcoff, who scored in the fifth round of the shootout to clinch it for Edmonton. "That's been our downfall in the past -- every time we're in tight situations we give up easy goals."

When Denis Grebeshkov, who's cut down on his costly five-star blunders, but hasn't eliminated them from his repertoire entirely, gave Vancouver a shorthanded goal late in the first period with a terrible giveaway, Horcoff undid the damage 65 seconds later with a goal of his own.

When Markus Naslund made it 4-3 Canucks at 7:44 of the third, Dustin Penner tied it right back up on a feed from Horcoff just 36 seconds later.

When the game was on the line and Ales Hemsky needed a goal to prolong the shootout, he calmly scored it.

"We knew it was a huge game for us," said Sam Gagner. "In order to get out of this slump we have to battle through some adversity and it came tonight. We showed a lot of character."

And the power play, for a change, decided to pull its weight instead of being dead weight. The Oilers were an unconscious 3-for-8, starting with Tom Gilbert's goal at 2:35 of the first period.

"That really helped with the confidence," said MacTavish. "We all know the scrutiny those players are under on the power play. The first goal relieved a lot of pressure."

It was also just the seventh time in 22 games the Oilers scored first. When Marty Reasoner snapped a 31-game scoring drought to make it 2-0, it looked like they were off to the races.

But the second period went totally against the flow. Edmonton, leading 3-1, had four straight power plays, including 1:16 of five-on-three, outshot the visitors 13-4 -- and lost the period 2-0.

"I was extremely disappointed after the second to be tied 3-3 in that situation," said MacTavish, whose club had a 25-11 advantage on the shot clock.

"It was very reminiscent of a couple of years ago."

But unlike so many games on their scrap heap, the Oilers found a way this time.

"You know that when you're up 3-1 against a team like that they're going to come back, especially after we got the first six power plays, but we kept playing hard," said goalie Mathieu Garon.

"Just getting two wins is huge. It doesn't matter who you get it against. The win is great for us."


Videos

Photos