SUN Hockey Pool

An Avalanche of goals

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

DENVER -- An opportunity like this one doesn't present itself often.

But with Colorado Avalanche defencemen dropping like flies and their playoff hopes vanishing, it was like going into a match race against an opponent with a broken ankle.

Last night, the Oilers took full advantage, skating to an 8-1 win over the Avalanche.

It was the first time the Oilers have scored eight goals in over a year, and the worst home defeat the Avalanche have suffered this season.

"The second period, it could have gone either way and then we ended up getting a couple to go up 4-1," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Then they had a push at the end of the second period which we withstood, then it looked like we loosened up offensively in the third.

"Hopefully that will have an effect on our confidence going into Chicago (tonight)."

LIT UP THE AVALANCHE

Sam Gagner led the way for the Oilers with his first career hat trick as his unit along with Ales Kotalik and Robert Nilsson lit up the Avalanche and their minor-league defencemen.

Kotalik scored his first goal as an Oiler and finished with four points. Nilsson had three points on the night.

"It's obviously a pretty good feeling, especially when it comes on a win and we're fighting for points," Gagner said. "Obviously we've been on the wrong side of some of those games this year, so it feels pretty good."

The Avalanche went into the game down four regular defencemen who were out with various ailments.

"We've been in a few games this year where we got leads and then we took our foot off the pedal," Gagner said.

"That was a big focus for us, getting the lead and keep on going. We did that tonight and it was obviously a big win for us."

The win kept the Oilers on the right side of the playoff cutoff line and closer to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MOREAU STARTS IT UP

The Oilers got off to the start they needed as Ethan Moreau tipped a Kyle Brodziak shot in front, then hacked at the rebound a couple of times before getting it past Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj.

Cody McLeod tied the game getting a puck off the end boards that defenceman Tom Gilbert overskated. McLeod fired it through Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

Before the end of the period, Shawn Horcoff restored the Oilers' lead as he dug out a rebound from a sea of legs and slid it past Budaj.

In the second period, Fernando Pisani increased the Oilers' lead, taking a feed from Liam Reddox in the slot and snapping it past the Avalanche goaltender.

Just over a minute later, Kotalik picked up his first point as an Oiler, reversing the puck in the corner to Nilsson behind the net, who found Gagner cutting in from the wing.

In the third period, Kotalik netted his first goal as an Oiler. The Oilers winger was a benefactor of a nice setup from Gagner, who found his linemate at the side of the net for a simple redirection.

Kotalik returned the favour later in the period on the power play, finding Gagner at the front of the net. The power-play opportunity came when Ian Laperriere caught Ladislav Smid with an elbow to the head.

Smid had recently returned to the lineup after suffering post-concussion symptoms from the last time he took a shot to the head. This time around, however, Smid did return.

To add salt in the wound, Sheldon Souray scored on a blast from the point, then Gagner completed his hat trick on another setup by Nilsson.

"It's was a good feeling to get that third goal," said Gagner. "It was a pretty big celebration from me and you never want to do that in an 8-1 game, but those are hard to come by in this league."


Videos

Photos