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Avs blow lead but top Oilers 4-3 in shootout

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON, Alta. -- The Colorado Avalanche wasted a three-goal first-period lead but ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday night.

The Avs couldn't hold a 3-0 lead they built before the game was 15 minutes old, only to see the Oilers force OT when Taylor Hall scored in the second period and Ales Hemsky and Andrew Cogliano beat Craig Anderson.

But after a scoreless overtime, Anderson was flawless the shootout and Milan Hedjuk scored against Devan Dubnyk in the first round, making a handful of dekes before ripping home a short wrist shot to send the Oilers to their fifth loss in a row.

"We just needed to regroup and get back to what made us successful in the first period," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We talked about it after the second period because we got away from it, but you have to give Edmonton some credit. They came back. They didn't quit."

Colorado didn't waste time getting after an Edmonton defense that will have to get along without leading scoring and workhorse Ryan Whitney, who is out at least two weeks with an ankle injury suffered in a 4-2 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday. The Whitney-less Oilers struggled in their own zone as T.J. Galiardi, Paul Stastny and Tomas Fleischmann put pucks behind Dubnyk for a quick 3-0 lead.

Galiardi banked a goalmouth pass attempt to David Jones off defenseman Ladislav Smid at 3:22. Stastny made it 2-0 when he buried a Jones pass at 12:01. The Oilers then got a bad break when Cogliano's clearing attempt banked off the skate of Matt Duchene on the end boards right in front to Fleischmann, who snapped the puck Dubnyk at 14:49.

But the Oilers weren't ready to bid farewell to 2010 without some pushback, and it was Hall who started it.

From the time Hall tapped Sam Gagner's goalmouth pass behind Anderson for his 12th goal to cut the lead to 3-1 at 9:30 of the second period until the intermission, the Oilers had the Avalanche on their heels.

"It was there for the taking," Hall said. "We knew we had a couple lapses there and they scored on them. We played well. We had a chance to get back in that game and we did.

"They had three shifts that were in our end and they scored three goals. You have to give them credit. They buried their chances and they're a good team, but we knew we just had to change a couple of things up and we did. We played with a lot of energy in the second and third period."

When Hemsky took a pass from Cogliano and fired a high wrist shot past Anderson 1:54 into the third period to narrow it to 3-2, the building was buzzing and the Avs were reeling. The sellout crowd was roaring by the time Hemsky returned the favor by setting up Cogliano in front for the tying goal at 4:54.

"I think we're growing as a team," Cogliano said. "We're showing a little more poise than we did at the beginning of the year. "We're trusting each other. If that was the beginning of the year we would have probably come out and kept going the other way, but we knew what we did wrong and we fixed it."

Sacco called his timeout after the tying goal, and the Avs regrouped enough to get the game into OT before winning the shootout.

"They came harder," defenseman John-Michael Liles said of the Oilers. "When you're up that quick, I think sometimes you have a tendency to get away from your game. I think we did.

"You never know when you're going to need that timeout, but I think it helped. It was a good time for it."

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