Torres scored the winner in a shootout as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Saturday night.
Edmonton looked to have the win well in hand in regulation, but Detroit tied the game with just 3.9 seconds left. With an extra attacker on the ice, Dan Cleary’s shot was tipped by Jiri Hudler past Oiler goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who had lost his stick on the play.
After a goalless overtime, it took six shooters aside before Torres beat Detroit starter Joey MacDonald and Roloson stopped Robert Lang to give the Oilers the win with a 3-2 shootout edge.
Torres had been struggling with only six points entering the game, and he hopes scoring the shootout winner and the Oilers third goal of the game has ended his slump.
“It just feels good to be able to help out,” he said. “I haven’t been able to do that much to start the year. It feels good to break out. Hopefully I can keep things rolling from here.”
With the victory the Oilers improved to 11-8-1 on the year and 8-2 on home ice while Detroit, with its second straight loss in as many nights in Alberta, fell to 12-5-2.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish felt his team was fortunate to emerge with their third win in a row.
“We’ve had lots of games over the past number of years where we’ve outplayed a team and couldn’t beat the goalie and you walk away frustrated,” he said. “Well, the shoe was on the other foot tonight. We got outplayed obviously, but they couldn’t beat our goalie. We got an outstanding performance from Rollie.”
Detroit veteran Kris Draper agreed that Roloson deserved the first star after stopping 38 shots.
“He made some unbelievable saves tonight,” Draper said. “There were times we were taking it to them but he was there to make the big save. We fought hard to tie it up but in a shootout anything can happen.”
The Oilers opened the scoring four and a half minutes in when Ryan Smyth picked off a Chris Chelios pass and fed it to Shawn Horcoff. His one timer from in close beat MacDonald, who was making his first career NHL start.
It took the Red Wings less than three minutes to tie the game as Henrik Zetterberg found Kris Draper on a short-handed two-on-one break. Draper’s shot was awkwardly gloved by Roloson, and after a lengthy review
it was determined that his mitt was in the net when he made the save.
Roloson questioned the call.
“It was unfortunate,” he said. “They have all the video in the world but they still missed it. The call came from (the league office in) Toronto. But if they can’t see the puck then it is obviously inconclusive. You have to be able to see the puck cross the line. I don’t know what was going on there.”
The Oilers caught a break midway through the first as Joffrey Lupul’s backhand passing attempt from behind the goal-line was inadvertently kicked in by the left skate of a sliding MacDonald.
Detroit had a glorious opportunity to tie it again just a couple of minutes later, but Roloson made a huge glove save, diving across the crease to rob a wide-open Cleary to keep Edmonton up 2-1 after the first.
“That save is probably going to be number one in the top ten tonight,” said Red Wing Jason Williams. “If that had gone in it would have been a different game.”
The Red Wings were able to pull even five minutes into the second, when Danny Markov’s soft shot found its way past a screened Roloson to make it 2-2.
The game remained tied until the 8:52 mark of the third period, when Torres’ innocent looking wrist shot from the top of the circle hit MacDonald’s pads and caromed in to give the Oilers the lead.
“It would have been nice to get the win for Joey,” said Williams. “But sometimes the bounces don?t go your way. I thought we played well enough to win but we can learn from this.”
Edmonton’s next opponent is the Calgary Flames on Tuesday for the third match of their seven-game homestand while Detroit returns home to face the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Notes: It was the third of four meetings between the two clubs this season. Edmonton won the first match 3-1 at home then lost 3-0 in Detroit . . . MacDonald started due to a wrist injury suffered by Chris Osgood and Detroit’s desire to keep Dominik Hasek from starting on back-to-back nights at this point in the season . . . Edmonton’s Oiler-owned Western Hockey League franchise finally received a name on Saturday and it is a familiar one. Joining the WHL in the 2007-08 season, the Edmonton team will be known as the Oil Kings. A previous Oil Kings team operated out of Edmonton for three decades, appearing in nine Memorial Cups and winning in 1963 and 1966.