SUN Hockey Pool

Roli to the rescue

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Dwayne Roloson has been taking more shots off the ice than on it lately, having been stapled to the bench in five of Edmonton's last six games while everyone in the city, including his coach, criticized his slumping performance.

He was challenged. He was benched. He was essentially demoted to backup.

But last night against Chicago, with some 6,000 Canadian military service men and women in the crowd, Roloson answered the call.

The veteran netminder kicked aside 38 of 40 Chicago shots, including a couple of game savers in overtime and two more in the shootout, to beat the Hawks 3-2 at Rexall Place.

Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff scored on penalty shots and Roloson ran the Hawks out of shooters as Edmonton improved its shootout record to league-leading 6-1.

"Rolie was great,"said defenceman Steve Staios. "He deserved the win in regulation."

SHORT LEASH

It wasn't an easy situation for him to be thrown into, with the Oilers slumping, the Hawks surging and his neck stuck in a very short leash. But it was classic Roloson, jostling with opponents, bitching at the referees, keeping his team in the game.

"It shows you a lot," said Staios. "It shows his experience and his mental toughness. He wasn't playing up to his standards (before), but he's the type of guy who can take a few days, fall back on his experience and come up with a big game."

It must have been very satisfying, but Roloson was keeping all of it inside.

"Personal is personal, it's beside the point," he said.

"The most important thing is the team, we won and that's all that matters."

Fortunately for Edmonton, his saves were better than his quotes in posting his first win since Oct. 25. The only two goals to beat him were screened point shots that he never saw.

"I felt good, " said Roloson, who put a lot of work in with goaltending coach Pete Peeters.

"I tried to simplify the game like I'd been working on the last week and a half. Everything seemed to work fine, pucks were hitting me."

And once they got to the shootout, it was a welcome relief because they almost paid tribute to the troops by tanking it, failing to protect a 2-1 third period lead.

"This was huge for us," said Gagner. "A lot of guys stepped up and we battled through some adversity. We've done that a lot of times this year, we just have to find a way to string a few together.

"We need to come into the next game, get off to a good start and try and build on this."

GOALIES UP TO TASK

There wasn't much open ice through the first 40 minutes, and on the few scoring chances that did materialize, netminders Dwayne Roloson and Nikolai Khabibulin were up to the task. Jim Vandermeer's screened point shot and Ales Hemsky's tap in from the crease, made possible by Denis Grebeshkov's brilliant set up, was all the scoring in the first two periods.

Marty Reasoner's one-timer from Kyle Brodziak at 6:02 put Edmonton in front 2-1 in the third period, but Duncan Keith's screened point shot at 11:18 sent the game to overtime.

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Staios played his 700th game last night ... Dick Tarnstrom left the game with a concussion in the second period after being crushed into the boards by six-foot-three, 246-pound Chicago blueliner Dustin Byfuglien ... Hemsky's goal extended his point-scoring streak to three games (2-3-5) ... After logging close to 20 minutes a night in his first five games after being recalled from Springfield, Robert Nilsson is spending a lot of time on the pine. He played 9:39 against Calgary, 10:57 against Colorado and 4:48 last night.


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