SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers Smid snaps drought

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:04 AM ET

 It only stood to reason that if the Edmonton Oilers could snap a six-year, 17-game losing streak in Minnesota on Friday, Ladislav Smid could score a goal on Saturday.

 Sure enough, he did.

And the goal that put an end to his 124-game scoring drought was a beauty, too.

Smid stepped in from the point, took a pass from Sam Gagner and buried a bullet at 2:59 of the first period for his first in almost two years (over 3,000 shifts).

“Obviously it was great, it felt amazing but you can’t be really happy about it when you lose 5-2,” he said.

Smid has two points on the season, with a goal and an assist in the last three games. That’s white hot by his standards.

“I was getting more involved offensively and guys were telling me they were feeling (a goal coming) and it finally happened,” he said. “It was a great pass by Gags. It was basically his play, I just finished it.”

The bench erupted after the goal, as the players on the ice swarmed Smid in the corner.

“You would have thought that goal was an overtime winner the way they reacted on the bench,” said head coach Tom Renney. “Unfortunately we had a lot of hockey to play after that.

“But the camaraderie in the room and desire to see each other have success is pretty special this year. They love the guy, they love the character he plays with and how much of a teammate he is. He lays it on the line. Some guys find themselves in harm’s way and some guys put themselves in harms way and we know exactly how Ladi plays.”

Sam I Am hot

Sam Gagner’s two assists Saturday in Denver give him four points in the last three games as he slowly starts to find his A game.

“I’m starting to feel better and better,” he said, adding he dearly wants to be a factor in where this team is going. “You want to be a big part of wins. I’ve been here for way too much losing. You want to help the team turn it around.

“And I feel like my game is coming. I just want to continue to improve and hopefully contribute to some wins here.”

After a couple of setbacks because of injury it seems like he’s finally getting some traction.

“He’s able to play regularly now and he’s a proud kid, he wants to play and make a difference and that’s a good starting point,” said Renney. “The bottom line is he has to continue to get opportunities from me and if he keeps playing like this he will.”

Saved by the Oil

The Avs were in a major free fall (2-8-1 in their last 11) before righting themselves Saturday against the Oilers.

“We needed a win (Saturday night) no matter how we did it,” said defenceman Shane O’Brien. “There were some veteran players in here who were saying in here between the second and third period that we would get it done and we did.

“You have to score goals to win in this league and we haven’t been doing enough of that lately. It’s only one win, but it was much needed.”

After a 6-2 start they were 9-12-1 when they faced the Oilers, so everyone was exhaling after the victory.

“In the third period we had the power play, we wanted the momentum and we just got back to our game,” said Ryan O’Reilly. “We had our chances and we buried them.”

LATE HITS: Magnus Paajarvi drew in, at the expense of Lennart Petrell and Ben Eager sat out his second game in a row and third in the last four ... Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson did not practice because of a groin injury and did not play. The Avs hope he’ll be back Sunday ... Colorado, at an average age of 26.6 was actually the younger of the two teams Saturday night. The Oilers average age is 26.7 ... D Alex Plante was recalled from Oklahoma a day after being sent down. Jeff Petry was feeling under the weather and they didn’t want to get caught with only five healthy defencemen again ... The Avs are on an eight-game homestand, the longest in franchise history ... Milan Hejduk’s streak of 11-straight years with 20 goals or more is the second longest active streak in the NHL, behind Jarome Iginla (12 years and counting).

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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