SUN Hockey Pool

Shootout magic for Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

You're cutting it awfully close when 62% of your wins come in shootouts, but who minds a little drama if it all works out in the end?

The Oilers certainly don't. If they weren't fantastic in shootouts this season, they'd be dead in the water. They're a league-best 5-1 in penalty shots after beating Vancouver in the fifth round on Tuesday. Pretty good for a team with only eight wins, total.

"It's good to be on top of a category," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who usually has to start from the bottom up when looking for his team in the stats package.

Why have they dominated tie-breakers so far? Hemsky is 4-for-6 - tops in the NHL - and Mathieu Garon has turned aside nine of 10 shots.

"Mathieu Garon is an exceptional goaltender and Ales Hemsky's made some great plays," said MacTavish. "It didn't look great (against Vancouver) when we needed a save and needed Hemmer to put the puck in the net, but it happened."

MacTavish also has a much deeper arsenal to pick from this year, including Sam Gagner (2-for-5).

"We've increased the skill in our lineup," said Shawn Horcoff, who scored the shootout winner against Vancouver.

"When you have more weapons to choose from it makes it a lot easier."

Some home teams like to shoot first, believing a goal will put added pressure on their opponents. MacTavish, when he's at home, lets the visitors go first.

"I feel Mathieu is so good he's going to make the first stop and that gives us an advantage," he said. "And I'd rather win it off a goal than a save."


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