EDMONTON – Still smarting from giving up a point against their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers made sure they finished off a much-needed win against Tampa Bay.
Sheldon Souray led the way with a pair of goals as the Oilers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 5-3 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night.
Erik Cole, Jason Strudwick and Andrew Cogliano also scored for the Oilers (30-25-5) who kept pace with the Western Conference pack for a playoff position. Edmonton sat tied with Dallas, Anaheim and Minnesota at 65 points for seventh in the West.
“This was huge for us to get the momentum moving forward,” said Oilers forward Sam Gagner. “Especially after the last three games. We had a couple mistakes but we also did a lot of things right. A lot of guys stepped up I here. It was a character win. Hopefully we can build on it.”
Cole said the team needed to erase the memory of last game Saturday, when Calgary was able to tie the with 1:05 left and win 3-2 in a shootout.
“Every game is important right now,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing. It’s that time of year where you can’t be squandering points. We needed a win, especially coming off a game where we blew two points in the final minute.”
Cory Murphy had two goals and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning (20-29-12), who have lost five of their last six games overall and six in a row on the road.
Edmonton had a 2-0 lead before the six-minute mark and Tampa goalie Karri Ramo blamed himself for not being ready.
“You can’t make excuses,” he said. “You need to be ready to play when the game starts, but we had a long travelling day and we knew that the Oilers were coming hard and maybe we were a little bit asleep there. I felt a little bit off there at the start. It was my fault, I need to take care of myself and be ready to play.”
Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet hopes that the way his team came back from the rough start is a sign of things to come.
“We made a battle of it at the end, let in a couple of goals early that affected us, but we finally got our legs in the second and third,” he said. “We were down 2-0 and you come back and make a game of it. Hopefully that goes a long way.”
Edmonton got off to a quick start, 2:20 into the game, as Cole out-hustled Marek Malik to a loose puck and then blew by him for a breakaway, picking the corner to the stick side of Ramo for his 15th of the season.
The Oilers made it 2-0 three minutes later as Strudwick did a good job keeping the puck in at the blue-line and rifled in a rare goal.
Edmonton had 11 first period shots while the Lightning only mustered three on Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers outshot the Lightning 45-29 overall.
The Lightning got on the board early in the second period on a power play as Roloson got caught up with defender Steve Staios after a big save on Martin St. Louis, allowing Murphy to deposit the puck into a wide open net to make it 2-1.
Tampa Bay tied the game with just under eight minutes to go in the second as Ryan Malone stripped the puck at the Lightning blue-line and sent Stamkos in on a breakaway. The rookie made no mistake, blasting the puck past Roloson for his 11th goal of the year.
Edmonton regained the lead less than a minute later when Souray unleashed a cannon off a faceoff to put the Oilers up 3-2.
The Oilers went ahead by two goals 2:20 into the third as a puck squirted free from under Ramo in a scramble and Cogliano was able to stuff it into the Lightning goal for a 4-2 lead.
It was just Cogliano’s second goal in the last 22 games.
“It’s nice to get a goal in front of the net like that because pucks start going into the back of the net after something like that,” he said. “It was big for me.”
The Lightning narrowed the lead to 4-3 with just over six minutes to play as Murphy picked up is second goal, picking the puck out of a frantic battle in front of the Oilers net.
Souray iced the game with his second into an empty net with just 1.8 seconds left after Shawn Horcoff had missed on an opportunity a minute earlier.
Edmonton entertains Columbus on Thursday while the Lightning play the second game of a three-game trip in Vancouver on Friday.
Notes. It was the only meeting between the two teams this season. Entering the contest the Oilers had lost four in a row to the Lightning, last defeating Tampa Bay on March 6, 2002 … It was the fifth straight game that the Lightning allowed more than 40 shots in a game … The Lightning continued to rely on the services of Karri Ramo in after injuries suffered by Tampa’s other goalies Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig … Tuesday’s tilt marked the 1,500th game for Oilers head medical trainer Ken Lowe. He is in his 20th season with the team.