SUN Hockey Pool

Roli back in form

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Those Edmonton Oilers who took part in the optional morning skate yesterday marveled at how good the ice was at Jobing.com Arena.

Then later that night, they skated circles around the Phoenix Coyotes on their way to a 5-2 victory.

Ales Hemsky, Joni Pitkanen, Kyle Brodziak, Marty Reasoner and Fernando Pisani scored for the Oilers, while Dwayne Roloson earned his first victory since Jan. 20 turning aside 38 shots.

With the victory, the Oilers pulled even with the Chicago Blackhawks for 11th place in the Western Conference standings.

However, they remained seven points back of the final playoff spot with the Vancouver Canucks winning earlier in Dallas.

"Tonight the ice wasn't as good as it was in the morning skate," said Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano who had a pair of assists in the contest. "But it was still pretty good, they keep the arena pretty cold so that helps out a lot."

HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS

The Oilers had their legs in the first period and Roloson, who was making his first start in 17 games, made it out of the frame without conceding a goal thanks to a little help from his friends.

The Oilers goaltender was making his first start since Feb. 1.

"I felt alright," Roloson said. "Obviously there were some game-situation things that I had to work on and prepare for.

"I made a few mistakes out there, but I was able to get away with them."

Early in the first period, Keith Yandle's point shot was tipped in front by Shane Doan and got through the Oilers goaltender but Denis Grebeshkov was able to clear it off the goal line.

Later Pitkanen blocked a Nick Boynton attempt with Roloson caught out of position.

"Roli was outstanding," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was good to see him handling the puck and batting the puck out and flipping the puck out, you could see he had a high confidence level.

"It was real unfortunate that they scored the second goal because you'd like to see him come through with a one-goal game, but irrespective of that, he played outstanding."

Hemsky opened the scoring on the power play in the first period, taking a pass from Pitkanen at the Coyotes blue-line, going in and snapping a shot over the shoulder of Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Oilers had a number of chances to extend the lead but had problems converting chances from in close.

Dustin Penner couldn't find the open net after making a good play to kick it up to himself in front on a rebound.

Robert Nilsson then found Tom Gilbert with a great cross-ice pass, but the Oilers defenceman hit the side of the net.

The Coyotes tied the game on the power play in the second period as Doan got a piece of Martin Hanzal's shot in front which found it's way through Roloson's pads.

Pitkanen restored the Oilers lead, beating Coyotes winger Enver Lisin to a puck in front after Nilsson had faked a shot, skated around defenceman Zbynek Michalek and Bryzgalov and slid the puck back out behind the goaltender.

EXTENDED LEAD

Brodziak extended the lead later in the period, getting a stick on Zack Stortini's shot from the slot and redirecting it over Bryzgalov. Curtis Glencross started the play by creating a turnover behind the Coyotes net then feeding Stortini.

In the third period Reasoner finished off an odd-man rush just as a penalty to Fernando Pisani expired.

Mathias Tjarnqvist scored a late goal for the Coyotes, bouncing a rebound off Ladislav Smid in front. Seconds later Pisani rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal.

Tonight the Oilers round out their three-game road trip in San Jose, where they defeated the Sharks 3-2 in their last contest at the HP Pavilion.

"We played great," said Nilsson.

"Roli played great, the defence played great, they got the puck up to the forwards well. We didn't have many turnovers and every line contributed. It was a real team effort and this is how I would like us to play for the rest of the season."


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