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Avs beat Oilers 3-2 to end 10-game slide

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON, Alta. -- One losing streak came to an end and another continued as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in a shootout at Rexall Place on Saturday night.

The Avalanche got goals in regulation from Matt Duchene, Kevin Porter and the shootout winner from Ryan Stoa as well as 31 saves by Brian Elliott to end a 10-game losing streak -- part of a slide in the standings that had seen them go 1-18-2 in their last 21 games.

"Hopefully, tonight is as step in the right direction," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said "It just feels good. I'm happy for the guys. I'm happy for Brian Elliott to get his first win for our team. He's been working extremely hard. It's been a difficult situation for him, so good for him and good for our players."

In the shootout, Elliott made a glove save on Jordan Eberle, a pad save on Linus Omark, saw Alex Giroux rattle a shot and then made a pad save on Magnus Paajarvi before Stoa beat Khabibulin with a backhand.

In winning for just the second time since Jan, 24, the 29th-place Avalanche sent the 30th-place Oilers to their sixth straight defeat and moved seven points ahead of them in Western Conference standings.

The decision was particularly sweet for Elliott, who stopped all four Oilers he faced in the shootout and won for the first time in seven starts with the Avalanche since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 18. Elliott made his debut with Colorado Feb. 23 against the Oilers and absorbed a 5-1 loss.

"It's tough going from one bad situation in Ottawa and coming into a bad situation as well, with not getting any wins and not getting the results you want," Elliott said.

"It's a sense of relief. We work so hard in practice. Why not just do it in the game? I'm glad we put it together."

Elliott's last win also came against Edmonton -- a 5-3 win at Rexall Place on Feb. 12. He had lost his next 13 decisions.

"I know I can play better than the last time I played them," Elliott said of the Feb. 23 loss. "I had a bit of confidence in this building from that last win. When you have that in your back pocket it makes you feel more confident."

From the time Ryan Jones and Erik Johnson dropped the gloves 11 seconds into the game, the Oilers and Avalanche looked very much like teams desperate to put their respective losing streaks behind them.

While Jones won the fight, the Avalanche, beaten 5-1 in their last two games with the Oilers, won the period. They got the only goal of the opening 20 minutes when Duchene danced past Jim Vandermeer on the outside, then tucked a shot to the short side past Nikolai Khabibulin for his 23rd goal of the season.

"We had a lot of guys step up tonight when we needed them," Duchene said.
"It's not just about what's been happening, it's about the future and the summer and things like that. You don't want to go out on a low note. You have to keep in pressing and striving to get better."

Edmonton's power play, 1-for-24 in the last five games, pulled the Oilers even 13:05 into the second period when Finnish rookie Teemu Hartikainen was cut on the chin by a high stick from Cody McLeod, who was assessed a double minor. Eberle made good on the chance, taking a pass from Andrew Cogliano, cutting into the slot and whipping a backhand behind Elliott.

It stayed that way only until a missed opportunity to clear the defensive zone by the Oilers ended up in the back of the Edmonton's net when Porter tucked a backhand past Khabibulin to make it 2-1 at 17:00.

Kurtis Foster set the stage for overtime and the shootout with less than four minutes to go in regulation time, re-directing Omark's pass behind Elliott.

"Going into the third period we talked about working harder and having a better period," said Foster, who also had an assist. "I thought the guys did a great job and stepped up.

"You try to get the win every night. Those first two period weren't where we wanted to be. We knew if we came out hard in the third we'd give ourselves a chance."

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