SUN Hockey Pool

Too close for comfort

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- They were continually thanking fans for braving the elements and coming out to watch last night's contest at the Nationwide Arena.

And for 59 minutes and 59 seconds, it appeared as though the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets wouldn't even be able to muster up a goal for the faithful to cheer.

But Dan Fritsche scored with 0.8 seconds left on the clock on a mad scramble in front to send the game into overtime, setting the stage for Andrew Cogliano to score to give the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 victory.

"It seems like there's never nothing easy for us," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"To give that up was disappointing. We don't need to be giving Columbus points. But we have to take some satisfaction in the fact we got the win in overtime."

Cogliano was able to regain the two points the Oilers were so agonizingly close to earning in regulation, getting the puck just inside the blue-line and snapping a shot through the legs of Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire.

The win was Edmonton's second over the Blue Jackets in less than a week.

"I was just trying to get the puck through the defenceman and on goal," said Cogliano. "It's always a good shot to take, especially in overtime. I just caught the five-hole. I got pretty lucky."

Fernando Pisani scored on the power-play late in the second period, beating Leclaire from a bad angle. It was one of the few quality chances the Oilers had in the contest as they were essentially on their heels for most of the game.

Pisani's goal was his 10th of the season and third in his last five games, getting to a puck along the boards as a roughing penalty to Nikolai Zherdev was coming to an end, and snapping a shot over Leclaire's shoulder.

The Blue Jackets had a number of opportunities to tie the game in the period, but Garon and Tom Gilbert kept them off the board.

Gilbert made up for a mistake in the offensive zone by getting in the way of a Ron Hainsey attempt on an open net. The Oilers defenceman jumped into a shorthanded rush, but missed the net with his shot, catching Jared Stoll, Pisani and himself up ice.

The Blue Jackets came down the ice on an odd-man rush and after Garon made the initial save, the puck bounced to Hainsey, who was looking at an open net until Gilbert scrambled back to stop the shot.

Pisani's goal stood up until the dying moments of the game, when Fritsceh cashed in with Leclaire on the bench for an extra attacker.

"It's tough to give up that goal because you want to win the game in regulation," said Garon. "But at the same time, the way we responded in overtime, we did a good job. We got a chance and we took it. All that matters is that we win, so I'm not disappointed."

Garon, who was pulled in the first period of his last start after giving up three goals on 12 shots, was sharp throughout the contest, finishing with 30 saves. He turned away 13 shots in the first period and another eight in the second.

The Oilers, meanwhile, only managed 11 shots through the first two periods and finished the contest with 17.

Last night's game was played to a half-empty building as a snowstorm hit the city. Weather reports were predicting nearly 35 cm of snow. Around these parts that's enough to cripple the city as flights were cancelled.


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