SUN Hockey Pool

SS Oil hits rough water

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- There was enough rust on Dwayne Roloson to cover the wreck of the Titanic, with a little left over for the quarter panels of your first car.

And, speaking of ships in distress, the SS Oiler ran into some seriously stormy weather last night as it launched its five-game voyage through the Southeast Conference.

Shawn Horcoff did his best to play Coast Guard, notching two goals and an assist, but it wasn't enough in a wild 5-4 loss to the Washington Capitals that culminated in a 12-round shootout.

They were up 2-0 after 20 minutes, but gave it away in a second period that saw them outshot 17-6 and outscored 3-1, thanks to some suspect netminding from Roloson.

'GOT COMPLACENT'

"We got a little complacent in the second and they started winning more battles than we did," said Horcoff, who scored to make it 1-0 in the first, fed a great pass to Dustin Penner to make it 3-2 in the second and scored again to make it 4-4 in the third. "That game was there for us, we have to take advantage of that."

Roloson battled back, blanking the Capitals in the third period, stopping Tomas Fleischmann on an overtime breakaway and 11 of 12 in the shootout before Matt Bradley scored to finally win it.

"It was tough to lose that point but it was nice to at least get one," said Roloson, admitting he fought it early but got better as the game went on. "I felt good ... about halfway through the third period. It's like anything, it comes back to you. When you're out for that long there's little things that get away from you."

At the other end, Olaf Kolzig toasted the win, especially how it came.

"I didn't know what to expect, especially from that team, they have the best shootout record in the league," said Kolzig. "That was a great win."

The Oilers are now 21-22-5.

"I just had the sense early on that it was going to be one of those games ... nuclear hockey, end to end, the last rush was going to win," said Oiler head coach Craig MacTavish, who blamed the second period collapse on defensive breakdowns. "I'm really disappointed to go from a 2-0 lead to being down going into the third. A lot of those games you already feel like you've lost.

"I thought we did a good job of digging ourselves out of it."

The Oilers have looked better in the shootout.

"It looked like we were getting collectively worse as it went on," said MacTavish. "There's no arguing with the rankings.

"For Rolie, you make 11 straight saves in a shootout, you expect to win. But it wasn't to be. But he regained his form in the third."

The Oilers had the better of a physical, back and forth first period, scoring once on the power play and once two seconds after Viktor Kozlov stepped on the ice after serving a minor penalty. Horcoff and Robert Nilsson did the damage and Roloson kicked out all eight Capitals shots to give the Oilers a 2-0 first period lead.

Then came the second period, in which the Oilers were outshot 17-6 and outscored 3-1. The trouble started early, and by the 99-second mark it was 2-2. Nick Backstrom took advantage of some defensive confusion by Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid to score on an open net at 1:01 and Alex Ovechkin scored on a wrister that Roloson should have had.

FOUGHT BACK

Edmonton fought back, tying it on a beautiful power-play goal - Ales Hemsky to Horcoff to Dustin Penner in the slot - but two more greasy goals (a Mike Green wrister and Alexander Semin pass from behind the net that banked in off Roloson at 19:08) and it was 4-3 Caps at the second intermission.

Thar she blows!

Horcoff tied it at 7:40 and it ended 4-4.

"When you're down a goal in the third and get a point out of it, it's a bit of a positive," said Horcoff.

"But we had plenty of chances to win it and didn't. Now (tonight's) game is even bigger."

The Oilers play in Carolina tonight, but that doesn't mean the Canes will be able to take advantage of a team playing its second game in two nights.

"Carolina played (last) night in Ottawa," said MacTavish. "So it evens the playing field significantly."

SAYING THANKS: The Capitals paid tribute to the Canadian military before last night's game. They distributed 10,000 commemorative pucks and honoured 300 Canadian troops stationed in the area.

LATE HITS: Defenceman Joni Pitkanen hurt his groin after a seemingly harmless first period collision with Brooks Laich and did not return. He'll miss tonight's game.


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