SUN Hockey Pool

True grit - and no quit

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

CALGARY -- If there was one guy on the ice who didn't necessarily look like he was giving it everything to allow the Edmonton Oilers Stayin' Alive watch to continue, it was Dustin Penner.

Kevin Lowe, the GM who made enemies with a lot of general managers in the league by signing Penner as a restricted free agent, was almost certainly not happy about the way No. 27 played in the first two periods.

But when the Oilers needed that big goal, it was the big guy who fired it home to bring the Oilers home alive with a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

"He was tired," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"To get that big body around the rink, it's a task," he said of the Oilers' third game in four nights and second in as many nights.

"But he had the opportunity to put it in the back of the net, and he did."

Who knows what that goal could mean in the story that could have died here last night except for a lineup which came in here with a refuse-to-lose attitude despite having no legs to use.

"That was a pretty special goal," said Penner, who didn't look like he'd come close to the 29 goals he scored last year when he came to camp out of shape. That one gives him 23 for the season and a career high 46 points.

"It's one of those goals you may look back on," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see what the goal means."

If nothing else, Penner's game-winner meant there can be no death-by-out-of-town-scoreboard scenario before the Oilers play the Flames again Tuesday in Game 81 at Rexall Place. They'll have stayed alive until their second last game of the season.

Edmonton has now moved into a three-way tie with Nashville and Vancouver. Which sounds better than it is, of course. The Oilers have two games to go while the Predators and Canucks have four to play.

The point is that they're still in play. What this young team has accomplished in this stretch run has been remarkable. But for a moment there last night, it looked like Dwayne Roloson was going to be involved in a second straight late-game gaffe to lose a lead and send the game to overtime.

"When the siren goes off and the horn goes off ... this is getting to be quite stressful," said MacTavish of Roloson losing sight of the puck with an extra attacker on the ice with 40 seconds to go.

The night before in Denver, Roloson watched a puck hit his closed catching mitt and go into the net with six seconds to go and then gave up goals on all three shots in the shootout.

The premature celebration in the arena, which included the Flames celebrating on the bench, turned out to be nothing more than a hit post.

"You just can't have something like that happen two nights in a row," said MacTavish. "I guess that's as close as you can come."

Roloson had already been fitted for a second straight set of goat horns when he tripped and fell flat on his butt during the backswing of Matthew Lombardi's goal which gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.

"It was a huge effort by Rollie. We needed it. I know how much he cares. To be sitting on that two nights in a row would have been too much for a good guy like Rollie to handle," added the coach.

But this wasn't about Penner or Roloson any more than about Tom Gilbert and Dennis Grebeshkov or about de facto captain Steve Staiois, who blocked two shots on a five-on-three situation that kept the Oilers alive.

"It was a really gritty effort tonight," said MacTavish. We didn't have a lot of legs. But we had a lot of heart."


Videos

Photos