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Ryan Smyth scores twice to help the Oilers beat the Avalanche 2-1

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Those were some of the words Edmonton players were using after their star, Ryan Smyth, was taken down late in the Oilers' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. With 28 seconds left in the game, Smyth gingerly skated off the ice after taking a knee in the leg from Colorado's John-Michael Liles as Smyth tried to skate past him on a breakaway along the boards. Liles was called for kneeing. The original diagnosis was a Charley Horse.

"I don't know," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said when asked of Smyth's condition.

The Oilers were not pleased with the hit. The Avalanche had just pulled goalie Jose Theodore and Smyth had a breakaway if not for Liles' takedown.

"I was shocked," Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff said. "He knew if he lets Ryan go through it's an empty net and the game is over. I know the guy. He's usually not like that. It's a dangerous play. It could be season-ending."

Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson was even more brutally honest.

"We didn't like it," he said.

The talk after the game should have surrounded Smyth's two highlight-reel worthy goals in a 1:53 span in the second period - including Edmonton's first short-handed goal of the season. He scored his first goal on a power play and his next on a breakaway after taking a pass along the boards.

"Unbelievable," Horcoff said. "If there is a guy that can score goals that way it is Smitty."

Yet all the Oilers could think about was the health of Smyth.

"It was a dangerous play," MacTavish said. "A desperation play for him. He knows if Smitty gets by him, the puck is going into the back of the net."

Former Colorado goaltender was honoured on the day he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with highlights shown on the big screen throughout the game.

Roloson turned in a performance reminiscent of No. 33, making one Roy-esque save after another, including a stop of Karlis Skrastins on a breakaway early in the third period. He finished with 33 saves.

"He made some real big saves," MacTavish said.

The Oilers were one of just four teams without a short-handed goal before Monday night.

Theodore, who finished with 30 saves, said he grew up a big fan of Roy, who's the career leader among goaltenders in wins (551) and regular-season games played (1,029). Roy was traded from Montreal to Colorado in December 1995.

"I was lucky enough that my first camp, he was still playing there (in Montreal)," Theodore said. "It's great to be playing in the same place he did."

The Avalanche dropped its third straight game.

"I didn't like how we played tonight," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think out of the first 16 games, that might have been our worst."

Milan Hejduk scored his seventh goal of the season on a shot from the right circle 7:13 into the first period. Andrew Brunette delivered the pass to Hejduk from behind the net.

Moments earlier, Joffrey Lupul had a shot on an open net - Theodore was on the other side of the crease - but sent the puck over the crossbar.

"This was one of our best games on the road," Roloson said.

And Smyth played a big role in it - before he was injured.

"This was his type of game, muck and grind it out," Roloson said.

Notes: Colorado traded F George Parros to Anaheim on Monday for a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft. The deal also included an option for the Ducks to swap places with the Avalanche in the third round. ... Edmonton F Peter Sykora skated in his 700th NHL game. He nearly had a goal in the second period but it clanged off the right post. ... The Avalanche played in their 500th home game since moving to Denver in 1995-96. ... Smyth had his fourth multi-goal game of the season.


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