SUN Hockey Pool

Confidence the key to keeping win streak alive

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers haven't been here since the fourth game of the season.

They're .500 for the first time since Oct. 10.

"It's a result of getting healthier for us, the young guys stepping up and the veterans playing better," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We've had a pretty good stretch here. I wasn't sure that we could win a real, close-checking game and (Saturday) was a real good sign that if we need to win a close-checking game, we can."

With their 2-1 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the Oilers improved to16-16-2 on the season. Remarkably, 10 of those 16 wins have come in a shootout.

Regardless, heading into last night's NHL action, the Oilers were four points back of the first-place Minnesota Wild in the division and tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.

"We're playing really confident right now," said Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon.

"Especially in the shootout. We were down to our last shooter who had to score so there was a little pressure, but Shawn (Horcoff) came through with a big goal."

The Oilers are not apologizing for the way they've reached the .500 mark with the best shootout record in the league -- nor should they.

In the end they don't ask how, just how many.

"I wouldn't say it's automatic when we get to a shootout, but we are really confident when we get in them," Garon said. "A lot of that credit goes to Shawn, who's been playing so well and I think he's one of the reasons we've been so successful."

With three games left before the Christmas break -- two at home -- the Oilers now have a chance to improve on their record.

They have not been over .500 since winning the first two games of the season.

Tomorrow they play host to the Dallas Stars and Friday face the New Jersey Devils.


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