EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ The Edmonton Oilers picked up a key two points
Wednesday night. As a bonus, they did some team bonding during a wild late-game
Shawn Horcoff and Raffi Torres each had a goal and assist and the Oilers
beat the struggling Atlanta Thrashers 5-1, Edmonton's third straight win.
``We came out of the (All-Star) break and played really well, moved the puck
well and did a lot of things well,'' said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. ``A
brawl like that always brings a team together.
``I'm sure it'll have the same effect on Atlanta. Everybody's leaving the
rink feeling good about themselves tonight.''
Before the brawl began with 1:49 remaining, Edmonton played one of its best
games in recent memory.
The Thrashers' frustration boiled over when the melee erupted in the neutral
zone near the Atlanta bench. Everyone on the ice paired up, including
goaltenders Ty Conklin and Pasi Nurminen.
``It's always fun,'' said Nurminen, sporting a swollen upper lip. ``Just
give a couple punches, take a couple punches, still alive.''
Said Edmonton's Conklin: ``It's not something I do very often and there's
reasons for that. It was just a lot of guys out there sticking up for each
Things got bizarre when Serge Aubin tossed Oilers rookie Mike Bishai into
the Atlanta bench. Bishai got to his feet and continued to trade punches with
Aubin, while stunned Thrashers looked on unsure what to do.
``You never like it when you're in the other team's bench, you know,'' said
Bishai. ``I was concerned, but my main concern was the guy in front of me. I
think I got a couple pokes with some sticks.''
The feisty center, playing just his fifth NHL game, received congratulations
from his coach.
``We had a bad angle of the Bishai incident, but we saw it on replay and it
was pretty impressive,'' MacTavish said. ``As many years as I've been in the
game, I've never seen a guy fighting standing up in the opposition's bench.
``That's like diving into somebody else's foxhole.''
All 12 players on the ice received fighting majors and all but two received
game misconducts. Conklin and Nurminen also got minors for leaving the crease.
The brawl resulted in 164 of the game's 198 penalty minutes.
Atlanta finished with six skaters because it had no backup goalie. Starter
Byron Dafoe left after the first period with a groin injury.
Conklin was replaced by Tommy Salo.
Ales Hemsky scored into the empty net to make it 5-1.
Torres scored his team-high 17th of the season in the first period and then
set up Jarret Stoll for the Oilers' fourth goal.
Horcoff beat Nurminen with a low shot early in the third period after
receiving a pretty pass from Ryan Smyth.
Georges Laraque also scored, while Smyth picked up two assists for the
Oilers, who have won four of five.
Aubin scored the lone goal for the slumping Thrashers, who have lost six in
a row and are winless in 10.
``The main point is we lost the game,'' said Atlanta's Ivan Majesky, one of
the players ejected for the brawl. ``We have to find a way to try and win a
game. It's so important. What happened, that's part of the game sometimes.''
The Oilers played motivated hockey from the drop of the puck. Dafoe was
making just his 17th appearance this season and made a couple stops with the
Oilers buzzing in the first five minutes, including a pad save on Laraque.
Moments later, he robbed Jason Chimera on a quick shot from in close.
Edmonton solved Dafoe on a lucky play when Torres scored. Defenseman Eric
Brewer let a high point shot go that was initially deflected by Radek Dvorak
and then hit Torres in the upper body, bouncing in behind Dafoe.
The Oilers quickly made it 2-0 on a beautiful give-and-go between Laraque
Atlanta got its goal early in the second period as Aubin deposited the
rebound of Jeff Cowan's shot behind Conklin.