SUN Hockey Pool

No reason for Oilers to cry

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

It was like Groundhog Day all over again.

The team was out of it with 20 games to go. There's a pile of guys on the injured list. They were on a losing streak.

They were down 1-0 after 27 seconds. Down 2-0 after 20 minutes.

It was last year revisited.

The only thing missing was Ryan Smyth blubbering at the airport.

But this year's Oilers vowed that they wouldn't go down like last year's Oilers, and they offered up a prime example of it last night, storming back to beat the Colorado Avalanche on three straight goals by rookies - Sam Gagner, Curtis Glencross and Andrew Cogliano.

"It shows character," said Glencross. "There's a lot of guys who hate losing, who are sick of losing. It's good that we can bounce back from being down 2-0. The guys weren't down on the bench, we were all ready to go in the second."

Smyth and his ninth-place Avs needed this game big time, so it's to Edmonton's credit that they battled back to win against a club that had a lot more invested in the contest than they did.

"We could have quit, but the way we played in the second, the energy was high, it was great to see that we could come back in games like that," said netminder Mathieu Garon, who stopped 27 of 29 shots to up his record to 20-16-1.

"Early in the game you don't want to be down 2-0 like that, but the way we responded in the second was good for us."

With everyone waiting to see how they'd handle this year's final 20 games, it didn't take long, just 27 seconds after the opening faceoff, for Edmonton to fall behind. Twelve minutes later they were down 2-0.

"It wasn't the way we wanted to start the hockey game," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was deflating to say the least. But we came out and played really well in the second period."

Gagner scored Edmonton's first at 4:38 of the second and Glencross tied it up at 11:05.

"We have a lot of pride in the locker-room," said Kyle Brodziak, who set up Glencross's goal by stepping around John-Michael Liles and making a beautiful pass in the slot.

"We know we didn't have that bad of a period, if we stuck with the game plan we were going to get scoring chances, we just had to shut them down."

The fourth line, again, was one of Edmonton's best. They've combined for 13 points in the last six games.

"We're starting to develop some chemistry with each other," said Brodziak. "We know going into every game what we want to accomplish - that's keeping it simple but making sure we're physical and trying to create energy. Because of that we're creating chances."

Cogliano won it in the third with a nice little shot into the low far corner behind Jose Theodore.

"We're not counting ourselves out, we're trying to do everything we can," said Cogliano. "To pull a big win from them shows that the guys in this room aren't going to give up."

After a 1-3 road trip that dropped them from the playoff chase, the Oilers have set their sights on the current five game homestand.

"Our focus right now is to run the table," said MacTavish. "And see where we find ourselves."

LATE HITS: Defenceman Ladislav Smid isn't going to be available any time soon, so the Oilers will be bringing up a defenceman from Springfield shortly.


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