EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers may have finally discovered a way to get their lacklustre power play going.
Shawn Horcoff’s shootout goal led the Edmonton Oilers out of the Western Conference basement with a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Horcoff, Tom Gilbert, Marty Reasoner and Dustin Penner scored in regulation as Edmonton snapped a two-game losing streak.
The win kicked off a crucial six-game home stand for Edmonton, now 8-12-1, which moved one point ahead of Phoenix and out of last in the West.
But even bigger than the win itself may have been finally discovering a way to score with the man advantage after scoring three power play goals in the game. The Oilers came into Tuesday’s game dead last in the league on the power play, scoring a paltry seven goals in 82 attempts in their previous 20 games.
Head coach Craig MacTavish says he is at a loss as to why they clicked with the opposition in the penalty box this time out as opposed to so many other outings.
“I was a little dumbfounded by it,” he said. “We had terrific execution. But we’ve seen that level of execution before and never had the offence to go along with it.
“Hopefully that is a sign that things have turned around there.”
The Oiler players were thrilled to finally see some positives on the power play this year.
“It’s a huge relief for us,” said Horcoff. “We’ve been moving it pretty well but we obviously weren’t getting the results. We worked very hard on it in practice and were finally able to do it tonight.
“It’s a huge win for us. I thought tonight was by far our best team effort of the season. We just wouldn’t be denied.”
“Scoring three goals on the power play, that’s the game right there,” said Oiler forward Ales Hemsky. “Hopefully this continues. You have to be able to score on the power play. That’s so important in this game right now.”
Alexandre Burrows, Brad Isbister, Alexander Edler and Markus Naslund replied for Vancouver.
The Canucks (10-8-2) saw a two-game winning streak come to an end but have recorded points in their last seven outings. It was also just their second loss to a Northwest Division opponent in 10 games this season, the other a 1-0 shootout loss to Edmonton last Wednesday in Vancouver.
“People were complaining about that 0-0 game going into the shootout last week so they got more for their money tonight, I guess,” said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who felt his team was fortunate to get to the extra session. “I don’t think we deserved any points tonight the way we played. We’ll take the point and run.”
The two teams entered the third period tied 3-3 before Vancouver took their first lead of the game seven and a half minutes in on the power play as Brendan Morrison made a long cross-ice pass to Naslund, whose chip shot beat Oiler goalie Mathieu Garon up high.
But the Oilers were able to tie it up with a man advantage of their own less than a minute later as Horcoff made a nice touch pass to Penner stationed in front and he put it through Luongo’s legs to knot the game 4-4. It was the third power play goal of the evening for the Oilers, who entered the game with just seven on the season.
The Oilers got to Luongo early in the game wit a power-play goal. Just 2:35 into the first period, Geoff Sanderson was able to send a puck from behind the goal line to Gilbert, who was pinching deep and tapped the puck in for a 1-0 Edmonton lead.
The Oilers made it 2-0 with just over five minutes to go as Kyle Brodziak sent a pass towards the net with Reasoner crashing. Reasoner directed the puck towards the goal, and it bounced off defender Edler’s skate and in.
Vancouver got a big break late in the period when Denis Grebeshkov coughed up the puck at the Canucks blue-line, and Burrows streaked in and deked Garon for a short-handed goal.
Edmonton got the goal back on the same power play when Aaron Miller fanned on a clearing attempt. Horcoff pounced on the puck and snapped the puck into the top corner with just 13 seconds remaining in the first to give the Oilers the 3-1 lead.
Vancouver cut the lead back down to one goal just 44 seconds into the second. Ryan Kesler broke in on the Oiler net but lost the puck while trying to shoot. However Isbister was trailing directly behind Kesler and used him as a screen to beat Garon to the glove side.
The Oilers had the bulk of the quality chances in the second as Luongo held his team in it but it would be the Canucks who struck next with four minutes remaining as Edler’s point shot trickled behind Garon, who had Henrik Sedin draped all over him in the crease, to knot the game 3-3 heading into the third.
Edmonton outshot Vancouver 14-4 in the second and 25-11 through the first 40 minutes.
The Oilers play the fourth game of their season-high six-game home stand on Thursday against Colorado. The Canucks are in Minnesota on Friday.