Stoll makes some magic

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- If you're going to send your playoff hopes to an early retirement, Florida is the place to do it.

Isn't this where people go to die?

And you had to wonder if the Oilers were down here to save their season or scout out condos and headstones the last few days.

After losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning, to fall to 1-2-1 on the swing, the Oilers came a heartbeat away from a potentially fatal loss to the Florida Panthers last night.

Instead, they ditched their black socks and sandals and rallied for an amazing last-minute comeback that culminated in a 4-3 shootout win.

With the Oilers down 3-1 late in the game, Jarret Stoll, who hadn't scored in seven games, scored twice in the last 1:23 to salvage the game, if not the season.

"This team usually does that. We don't quit. We always try to find a way," said Stoll, who buried a slap shot at 18:37 and tied it with a centering pass from behind the net at 19:08.

"Obviously we're not in the situation we want to be in right now, but these two points help. These are points you don't want to let slip away. Tonight we didn't and in Tampa we did."

Any good news from the win has to be tempered, however, by the fact that Sheldon Souray left the game in the second period with a shoulder injury. He's been bothered by the bad shoulder all season, so whether it just flared up and he needs a few days to rest it up or it's going to keep him out for an extended period remains to be seen.

But for now, they're celebrating the comeback.

"It felt incredible. You feel like the world is crumbling and trying to do everything possible to get back in the game," said captain Ethan Moreau.

"I remember the year we went to the final, we were always able to get that goal when we needed it. It just shows you our resolve. We were feeling pretty good on the bench. We knew that once we got the first one there was still time left."

If the Oilers were looking for a quick start, they didn't find it. The Panthers scored a grand total of one shorthanded goal in 50 games this year, but it took them all of 78 seconds against Edmoton to make it two, thanks to a Tom Gilbert turnover at the Florida blue-line that left him minus seven for the five game trip.

Moreau squared it up late in the second with his first goal in seven games. Florida regained the lead on Brett McLean's goal 1:20 into the third and went in front 3-1 when Olli Jokinen scored at 7:18.

It looked over. But Stoll's duece broke every heart in a half-empty building.

"Thank God for the shootout. It wasn't easy. It's a postive example of the way we've been playing lately, with the exception of the breaks we got at the end," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

The coach wasn't nearly so positive concerning Souray's injury.

"He's not great. It's going to need a few days off. We'll evaluate it on Monday and see where it's at."

The Oilers are now 6-3-1 in their last 10 and finish 2-2-1 on the trip.

"We're not in the position we want to be in as a team," admits verteran defenceman Steve Staios.

"If we can just shore up a couple of areas, we're hoping that it changes."

They thought five games in the Southeast would take them a few steps in that direction, but it hasn't.

"Going into the trip we wanted to take seven points, maybe eight," said Dustin Penner.

"It didn't work out in our favour."


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