SUN Hockey Pool

Star-Struck 'n' dumbfounded

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

When it was over, the Edmonton Oilers and their fans stared at the Rexall Place scoreboard with stunned, bewildered looks on their faces - like something was wrong with this picture.

It just didn't add up.

Oilers. Shootout.

That's supposed to mean an automatic win.

DIDN'T COMPUTE

What happened last night against the Dallas Stars just didn't compute.

"I thought I pulled it far enough that the shot was open," sighed Sam Gagner. "I just missed it."

"I had him down, but the puck slipped from my stick a bit," sighed Ales Hemsky. "Then I couldn't get it up in time."

Shawn Horcoff missed his attempt as well, and for the first time in seven shootouts, the National Hockey League's hottest team on penalty shots lost. They'd won seven in a row. They were 10-1.

It didn't make sense.

"It's too bad we didn't get the extra point, but it doesn't change anything," said Gagner, still defiant after the 2-1 loss. "We're still confident that we're going to win the shootouts. We're looking forward to the next one, I guess."

They probably won't have to wait long. The Oilers set an NHL record last night by making it four in a row, so there's no reason to think they won't make it five on Friday against New Jersey.

"You don't want every game to go to a shootout," said Hemsky, cringing at the thought. "You won't have any moves left. You won't know what to do."

Still, the Oilers are adding points to the pile almost every night (taking at least one from 10 of their last 13 games. Two would have been nice, but Hemsky knew the run wouldn't last forever.

"We can't win every time," he said. "We couldn't score today and they did. That's the beauty of shootouts, it's 50-50. But we played a pretty good game, they're a solid team."

Sergei Zubov's shootout goal stood up as Marty Turco stopped Edmonton's three regulars. The Oilers have been in enough of these that he had plenty of film to watch, but Turco says he'd rather go in with an open mind.

"You have to have confidence," he said. "As good as guys are and as many weapons as they have in their arsenal, I still feel confident against anyone. It's more about not thinking about it and playing them straight up than trying to put a little guesswork into it because for me most of the time that doesn't work out."

In a rematch of last week's overtime loss in Dallas, in which nine different players scored and the teams erupted for five goals on 10 shots in a 4:40 first period outburst, the teams decided to play things a little tighter.

TONS OF SHOTS

OK, when the teams combine for 70 shots and a bushel of scoring chances, it's not all that tight. But the goalies were terrific. Dwayne Roloson and Turco waged a whale of a goaltending battle.

Dallas opened the scoring on a pretty passing play that resulted in Jeff Halpern's back door goal at 3:21 of the first period, a goal that stood until Dustin Penner evened the score at 18:22, digging the puck out of the corner and fighting off three Dallas stick checkers before roofing one from close range on Marty Turco. The goal gave Penner nine points in his last 10 games, after just 11 in the first 24 games.

And that was it, until the shootout.

"We can't be upset with the way we played," said Gagner.

"The only thing is we missed some quality scoring chances that could have given us the victory. But at the same time a lot went right."

LATE HITS ...

Steve Staios took a roughing minor late in the first period, earning two minutes that lifted him to 1,000 career PIMs. His 1002nd penalty minute came late in overtime, resulting in a nervous kill to get to the shootout.


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