SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers stop losing slide

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- The importance of the contest was magnified, not by the fact the Edmonton Oilers had lost two straight heading into St. Louis, but because they still have to make stops in Detroit and Minnesota.

Rarely does anybody beat the Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena and the Oilers always seem to play hard but lose by multiple goals in St. Paul.

So pulling out a 2-1 shootout victory over the Blues last night at the Scottrade Center was big.

"I thought we played a lot better, we played a grittier game and universally we played a lot harder," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I thought we had a lot of chances to win it in the third period. We didn't get a lot of shots, but we had a lot of opportunities for goals.

"It was an important win. It was starting to slide the other way and you've got to get it turned around, and we've got it turned around tonight."

Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner scored in the shootout, while Dwayne Roloson capped a huge night by stopping both St. Louis shooters.

"That's a huge win for us," said Roloson, who made 33 saves in regulation.

"We played the game that we needed to play to win the hockey game. We played physical, gritty, and we did the little things to win the hockey game. We haven't done that the last two games that we've played and for us to jump out on the road here and realize what we have to do to win hockey games and how to play, it's a perfect time for it."

Roloson was the biggest reason the Oilers won.

"He was great," MacTavish said. "The one goal he did let in was just a perfect shot. For an eight-goal scorer, it was a pretty good shot. It was a perfectly placed shot."

Jay McClement was that eight-goal scorer, the only one able to get the puck past Roloson on the night.

The Blues centre fired a shot over Roloson's shoulder on a short-handed, two-on-one rush in the third period.

Sheldon Souray had given the Oilers the lead in the second period, taking a drop-pass from Robert Nilsson and snapping a shot over Blues goaltender Chris Mason. It was one of the rare scoring chances the Oilers had in the period as they spent a large portion of it in their own end.

"We came out with a good level of intensity tonight, which we really needed," Souray said. "We've been lacking a little bit of emotion in our last couple of games. It's probably good to get out on the road here and simplify our game like we did tonight. We played hard and good things happened.

"It may not have been the prettiest win, but good things happened because we played with a lot of emotion."

The Oilers were able to pull out the win despite losing defenceman Tom Gilbert and centre Shawn Horcoff in the second period. Gilbert left the game with back spasms, while Horcoff was hurt as he inadvertently got in the way of an Ales Hemsky shot.

"That was the play that hurt him, but it wasn't the shot that hurt him," MacTavish said. "It's a lower-body injury that we'll assess (today) and see what his availability is. We won't know until we see how it responds (last night)."

The Oilers travel to Detroit for a Saturday game (1 p.m.).


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