SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers edge Blues in shootout

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

In a face-to-face staredown with the team that wants their playoff spot -- a spot that's become a lot more tenuous after Edmonton lost five of six games during the softest part of their schedule -- the Oilers made St. Louis blink first.

It took ages -- 60 minutes of regulation, five minutes of overtime, forever to flood the ice for the shootout and three shooters each -- but the Oilers were finally able to celebrate a win, their first in 10 days.

Ales Kotalik scored on a beautiful backhand deke and Dwayne Roloson stopped all three St. Louis shooters to give Edmonton a 2-1 victory.

They needed this one badly, for the standings and for their own mental health.

"It was a complete game tonight," said Sheldon Souray. "We played well defensively, we didn't try to force plays, we had good breakouts, we outshot them, which is a rarity, and our goalie was awesome once again.

"And we get one more point than they got, which is huge for us at this point."

That pretty much sums up the evening.

After three straight overtime losses dropped them from seventh to ninth, the Edmonton Oilers were reeling as they came face to face with the team right behind them in 10th, the red hot Blues, who'd won seven of their last 10.

There wasn't much to choose between the desperate hopefuls, but there were a lot of nervous moments for the hosts, who went to overtime for the fourth straight game, and fifth time in the last eight games, with nothing but losses to show for it.

This time they survived the OT, setting the stage for Kotalik's heroics.

"I was hoping that he would give me a chance and he did," said Kotalik, who hasn't scored in a game yet, but saved the day when they needed it most. "It feels great to get the two points at home, which we need, and maybe it can give me some confidence, too."

It was nip and tuck the whole way.

Souray's point shot at 10:29 of the first period gave Edmonton the lead, and just their third power play goal in the last 12 games.

The 1-0 lead held up till the first intermission, marking the first time since Feb. 24 against Tampa Bay (nine games ago) that the Oilers had a lead after 20 minutes.

But it didn't last long. Just 87 seconds into the second period Denis Grebeshkov took two minutes for hooking, forcing Edmonton's struggling penalty killing unit into action, where it struggled some more.

Shawn Horcoff lost the faceoff and Edmonton never got the puck out of their zone for the entire 36 seconds it took St. Louis to score. David Backes' goal was the 11th tally Edmonton gave up in the last 24 power plays, barely a 50% kill rate.

They had a much better go of it late in the period, with Souray in the box, and the second frame ended 1-1.

Edmonton's penalty killing unit was called on again in the third, when Ethan Moreau's cross-checking penalty in the offensive zone left them shorthanded with six minutes left.

LATE HITS ... It was also the second time in his career that Souray reached the 20-goal mark. He did it two seasons ago in Montreal, when he had a career high 26 ... The Oilers want to get Roloson, who played his 25th game in a row, some rest, but it's not easy given how dependant they are on him. The next possible opening looks to be Friday, the second of back-to-back games in Colorado and Chicago ... Ales Hemsky had a third-period breakaway but couldn't convert. It was his second missed breakaway in two games.


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