SUN Hockey Pool

Roloson resilient for Oil

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- Their start may have been predictable, but the starting goaltender was a surprise.

After having been the designated backup for the previous 17 games, Dwayne Roloson made his second start in 22 hours yesterday and was simply outstanding in backstopping the Edmonton Oilers in a 2-1 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion.

Roloson turned aside 48 shots through three periods and overtime, then another three in the shootout before Fernando Pisani scored to give the Oilers their NHL-record 15th shootout win.

"He was unbelievable," said Pisani. "They have a great power play and they move it around well, but he made some unbelievable saves for us and did a phenomenal job of keeping us in the game."

Having arrived in town at 2 a.m., with an early puck drop, the Oilers were expected to get out of the blocks slowly against the Sharks after playing in Phoenix the night before.

The Sharks had Saturday night off and were already in bed when the Oilers pulled up to their hotel. With the San Jose airport having an 11:30 p.m. curfew, the Oilers had to fly into Oakland and bus the rest of the way.

Regardless, Roloson got the start and made the most of it.

"I've seen him at that level before, but I don't think I've seen him better than he was tonight," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "That's not two straight games where he's come in and won us the hockey game in a pretty critical stretch. He's was spectacular, I'm really happy for him."

Roloson's biggest save came in overtime as Joe Thornton went in all alone trying to extend the Sharks franchise-high winning streak to 12 games. However, the Oilers goaltender was able to get an arm on Thornton's attempt.

"I just tried to stay with him," Roloson said. "He's obviously a great player with great vision. I got a good read on him and I tried to take advantage of it. I just tried to stay with the shot."

In the shootout, Roloson turned aside Joe Pavelski, Jeremy Roenick and Jonathan Cheechoo, while Robert Nilsson and Pisani scored for the Oilers.

Pavelski opened the scoring in the first period, as his point shot just snuck past Roloson on a two-man advantage.

In the second, Roloson turned away all 16 shots he faced, while the Oilers were able to tie the game thanks to Jody Shelley's indiscretion.

With a penalty already being called to defenceman Craig Rivet, the Sharks enforcer decked Zack Stortini after the whistle.

Ales Hemsky scored on the ensuing two-man advantage, banking a shot past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. It was Hemsky's 20th goal of the season, the first time he's hit the plateau.

"I think we were maybe a little lethargic in the beginning," said Oilers forward Sam Gagner. "We had trouble getting our feet moving in the first period, but we felt better in the second."

The win was the second straight for the Oilers who took two of three on the road trip and move five points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Tomorrow they'll face the Phoenix Coyotes in the first of a four-game homestand.

"I talked to Roli about a week ago about picking a start for him," MacTavish said. "I really felt we needed him to come in and win us a bunch of games in a row and he's well on his way."


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