O'Connor, Oh yeah!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Ryan O'Connor has perfect timing.

On the verge of an ugly collapse against the woeful Portland Lumberjax, O'Connor rescued the Edmonton Rush last night in front of 9,177 fans at Rexall Place.

In a nailbiting overtime session, O'Connor buried just his fourth goal of the year at 5:52 of the extra frame to give the Rush a 9-8 win over the reeling Portland Lumberjax.

"I saw (the goalie) kind of slipping and it went in," said O'Connor, who didn't exactly want to bask in the spotlight by himself.

But Jason Wulder, who helped set up the winner, heaped praise on the hero of the moment.

"It is a hard goal to score - you are on the run, you don't have much time to think about where you got to put (the ball), plus you have a couple of defenders coming to take your head off," said Wulder.

"So, it was a great shot by Ryan.

"And I was glad he got it at that time because everyone is pretty tired."

BREATHING ROOM

The win gives Edmonton some much needed breathing room and in full control of their own playoff destiny.

With two games still in hand over Portland, Edmonton is alone in fourth place, one win ahead of the Lumberjax.

The top four teams in the West Division qualify for the playoffs. Edmonton now sits at 3-4, with Portland dropping to 2-7. In fact, the Lumberjax have lost seven straight games.

"That was a huge win," said winning goalie Curtis Palidwor.

"(Portland) has a game against Colorado (tonight) that could be a make or break for their season.

"You don't want to get to that eight loss mark - usually eight losses in this league indicates you are not going to make the playoffs.

"It has to be a frustrating loss for them, but it is a big step for us."

And it would have been a very easy big step last night for Edmonton - but the Rush made it very interesting instead.

ON PACE FOR RECORD

Edmonton was on pace to shatter the franchise's record for fewest goals allowed in a game by playing a masterful first half.

Leading 5-1 at the break on the strength of two goals by Chris Gill, Edmonton seemed to be in complete control.

But with a 7-2 lead in third quarter, the roof started to fall in.

Portland scored four straight goals to make it 7-6.

After Andrew Turner scored on a clear-cut breakaway to restore a two-goal lead, Portland's Tyler Heavenor notched back-to-back goals in the final five minutes to force overtime.

But thankfully for the Rush, O'Connor delivered the knockout punch, giving Edmonton its first win in three franchise efforts in overtime.

"It is huge for the organization," said Rush coach Paul Day on the win.

"We had an overtime loss the first game of last year against San Jose and an overtime loss last week.

"So it is great resilience."


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