Gagner finally scores!

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Call it what you like, a monkey, gorilla, piano or whatever else one can pile on the shoulders of a 19 year old.

The sigh of relief let out by Sam Gagner after scoring his first goal of the season could be felt all the way to London, Ont.

Last night the Edmonton Oilers sophomore potted a rebound past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala to record his first goal of the season. Unfortunately for Gagner, it came in a losing cause as the Oilers fell 5-2.

"Obviously it's a huge weight off my shoulders," Gagner said. "You always want it to come in a win. But hopefully I can build on that. It's something that you have to be consistent with every night."

Heading into the contest, all Gagner had to show for the Oilers' first 15 games of the season was two assists. He had been getting opportunities to score, but was having difficulty converting them.

As much as he didn't want to think about the slump or even less, talk about it, the more prevalent it became as the games added up, and the goal column stayed at zero.

"I tried not to think about it as much as possible," Gagner said. "And even though I do have the first one now, one goal doesn't make a season.

"There is still a long way to go and there is still a lot of things that we can all do better."

After scoring 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games for the Oilers in his rookie campaign last season, Gagner - the club's first pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft - had huge expectations piled on him.

Gagner said all the right things and kept working hard, but still had difficulty putting up points.

Last night the Oilers centre started on the first line between Ethan Moreau and Ales Hemsky. He was also on the top power play unit, which connected on their second opportunity.

Gagner finished off the play after Toskala kicked the puck right to him on the doorstep.

The goal gave the Oilers the first period lead, one which they relinquished in the second en route to the loss.

"We played hard, but we made just too many mistakes and we can't let that happen," Gagner said. "We have a young team in here and we've been trying to get better every day. For us, we can't let teams off the hook like that and we have to continue to work hard the way we did in the last few games of the road trip."

Having come off a successful seven-game road trip where they Oilers managed four wins, the opportunity was there to build on it before having to head back out following tomorrow's game against the Colorado Avalanche.

However, the Oilers are struggling to put together a meaningful winning streak together.

"You never like to win a few games and then lose one," Gagner said. "I think for us, it's a matter of finding that consistency, playing the same way every night and having the same staple as a team.

"I think we're getting closer and closer to finding that, and hopefully we can find it in the near future."


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