Moreau's reward

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- They lost their captain for 17 minutes, lost one of their defencemen for the final 34 minutes and, as everyone knows by now, lost their scoring touch about two weeks ago.

In short, the Edmonton Oilers seemed well on their way to losing their sixth game in a row last night.

Ah, but good things come to those who wait - and after waiting to catch a break for what seemed like an eternity the Oilers finally got one in Carolina.

Ethan Moreau's floater somehow got past Cam Ward with 1:28 left in the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie and saving the Oilers from a potentially devastating loss.

"You have to believe you're eventually going to be rewarded," said Moreau, who also scored the empty netter to seal the 3-1 victory, after returning from 17 minutes in the penalty box for instigating a first period fight with Tuomo Ruutu, after Ruutu knocked Denis Grebeshkov from the game with a concussion.

"You just have to believe that if you keep throwing puck to the net you're going to eventually wear them down."

It was one of those ugly goals they've been searching for, and it came at a crucial time.

FIVE IN A ROW

After losing five in a row, including the first game of this seven-game trip, another defeat would have left them reeling. Now they're one game above .500 (5-4-1) and 1-1 on the trip heading into this afternoon's game in Philadelphia.

But with Moreau in the box for so long, and Edmonton down to five defencemen, it didn't look good for a while there.

"You have to give the guys credit in here for battling through all the adversity," said netminder Dwayne Roloson, who turned in another stellar effort, stopping 33 of 34 Carolina shots. "It's what we talked about between periods, just staying with it and believing in yourselves and that's what the guys did. It's easy to go the other way (and lose), but we stayed with it and batted through it all night long."

Head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club had been held to 1 or 0 goals in four of its previous five games, was starting to wonder if they would ever start scoring.

"It looked like more of the same in the first period," MacTavish said. "All kinds of great chances. Ales Hemsky hit the post, Ethan has a breakaway. lots of good quality chances and nothing to show for it."

Nothing but a 1-0 deficit after Hemsky made the ill-timed decision to head for the bench while the Hurricanes were about to execute a breakout. It left a gap in the middle of the ice that turned into a Ray Whitney breakaway goal at 6:35.

ONE IN EIGHT

It was 1-0 Canes at the first intermission, giving Edmonton one goal in its last eight periods.

"I thought we played a really solid game," said Erik Cole, who had a lot of jump in his Carolina homecoming.

"One miscue in the first period put us behind in what was otherwise a pretty even first period.

"Our guys did a great job of killing penalties and Roli gave us another great performance - that's four from him where he was the best player on the ice."

Cole drew a penalty in the second period, setting up Shawn Horcoff's power play goal to tie it at 6:45 and from then on it was anybody's game.

Moreau's prayer won it.

"When you put the work in at the level that we did tonight, you get rewarded," said MacTavish. "Yeah, we survived a couple of bullets there in the third period. They had a couple of really good chances that just rolled off the end of their stick.

"But Roli was really good and we got a few breaks. At this level you make your own breaks and you get rewarded when you put that type of work ethic in.

"We worked hard and at the end of the day we got rewarded for it."


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