Oiler PP snows under Avs

Oilers' Mike Comrie celebrates scoring a power-play goal with by Sam Gagner (left) during first...

Oilers' Mike Comrie celebrates scoring a power-play goal with by Sam Gagner (left) during first period action on Sunday. (Rick Wilking/REUTERS)

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

DENVER -- They threw the puck around like the Harlem Globetrotters during a five-man weave.

And with three of their top power-play guys out of the lineup.

Last night the Edmonton Oilers made the most of their odd-man opportunities, scoring four power-play goals on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Even the fifth was essentially a power-play marker as it was scored just as an Avalanche penalty expired.

"I think we probably paid attention a little bit and we moved the puck around," said Oiler head coach Pat Quinn. "I don’t think they (Avalanche) were quite as sharp as they have been on the penalty kill.

"But we moved it around well and we had some movement on it that we hadn’t been having for a few games."

Mike Comrie, Tom Gilbert, Dustin Penner and Ryan Potulny scored power-play markers for the Oilers.

Andrew Cogliano added a fifth, banging in a rebound seconds after an Avalanche too-many-men on the ice penalty expired.

"I think we kept things pretty simple," said Comrie. "We were moving around, we weren’t stagnant. We’re missing some key guys that play big power-play minutes, but we were able to get pucks to the net, kept things simple and scored some timely goals."

The Oilers went into the contest minus six regulars.

Three of those - Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray - are fixtures on the top power-play unit. Without them in the lineup, the Oilers had to fill in with the healthy bodies they did have available.

Potulny, who was called up from the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield on Saturday, scored the eventual winner, making the most of his second attempt on a cross-ice feed from Denis Grebeshkov and firing it past Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson.

"The first one, the defenceman blocked it," Potulny said. "The goalie was down and the defenceman got a piece of it. I got lucky we got another chance at it."

Potulny’s goal in the third period was similar to the marker Dustin Penner collected in the first period, taking a cross-ice feed from Patrick O’Sullivan and firing it past Anderson. Penner’s goal had given the Oilers a two-goal lead in the period after Tom Gilbert snapped a seeing-eye wrist-shot from the point, giving the Oilers the lead.

"I think the breakout on the power play was good for us tonight," Penner said. "It might have been their penalty-killing, they kind of stayed back and set up at the blue-line. But our defencemen were able to carry it up and give it to me wide a couple of times and we were able to set up in the zone."

The Avalanche went into the contest with the second-best penalty-killing unit in the league. They had only given up 10 power-play goals through the first 17 games of the season.

Last night they gave up three in their first three short-handed situations.

The Oilers finished 4-for-7 on the night, one power-play goal shy of a team record accomplished on six different occasions, but not since the 1988-89 season.

"They have some pretty good players despite those guys being out tonight," said Avalanche centre Paul Stastny. "They do a real good job of finding seams and perhaps we didn’t do as good a job as we have in the past. We just cannot take that many penalties in the offensive zone."

Marek Svatos, T.J. Hensick and David Jones scored for the Avalanche, who out-shot the Oilers 37-32.

Jones’s goal had pulled the Avalanche to within a goal in the third period, but it was as close as they would come, thanks in part to an outstanding save by Nikolai Khabibulin on Adam Foote late in the frame.

Earlier in the contest the Oilers goaltender had also robbed Kyle Cumiskey, who had snuck in behind the Oilers defence on a back-door play.

"These were brand new units that we had on the power play, we just worked on them (Saturday)," said Quinn. "It turned out pretty good."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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