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Oilers 3, Sharks 2, SO @NHLdotcom

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The Edmonton Oilers created more space between them and the San Jose Sharks in the race for the playoffs. And they did it the hard way.

Michael Peca and Ryan Smyth each scored shootout goals Thursday night to lift the Oilers to 3-2 win over San Jose.

"That's what we wanted to do," Smyth said. "Come in and get the win. We know they're on our tail. Ever since they got Joe Thornton they've made gains on us. We wanted to put a stop to it."

The win snapped the Oilers' three-game losing streak and gave them a seven-point lead over the Sharks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Ryan Smyth, he's money in the bank in those shootouts," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "Every time it's a different move. It's tough to prepare for him in a shootout. But it was a great goal and I have to admit he made a great move, too.

"We've lost three in a row coming in. And we had lost four overtime games in a row and we were due for a win."

Nils Ekman made the Sharks' first shootout attempt but rookie goalie Mike Morrison turned back Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to give the Oilers the win.

Morrison saved 25 shots for Edmonton, which has defeated the Sharks in a shootout in both meetings this season.

"I think we ultimately felt we deserved the two points because we controlled the play of the game pretty much from start to finish," Peca said. "We had a great team effort, and Morrison really came up with two big saves at the end of the game to give us the two points we deserved."

The Sharks had several opportunities in overtime to score the winning goal but couldn't.

"It was looking for a while like the way the game started that we weren't going to get anything," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "But once we battled back, it's hard to keep your foot on the gas without risking anything and I think in the future we've got to keep on pushing. When we tied it, we kind of sat back for a few shifts and let them catch their breath and then we had a couple of more pushes again but we should have smelled blood at that point and tried to finish them off."

San Jose tied it at 2 with 11:55 left in the third when Milan Michalek tapped in his eighth goal of the season.

Thornton made it 10 straight games with a point when he scored his 16th goal after Morrison was screened out by Marleau and Ekman in the second period on a power play. During his streak, Thornton has scored 10 goals and passed for seven assists.

The Oilers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period when Shawn Horcoff and Steve Staios each scored within 2:35 of each other.

Horcoff scored first on a power play when he stuffed in a shot from 5 feet out when Vesa Toskala leaned the wrong way. Staios made it 2-0 when he slammed home a slap shot from deep in the left circle with 9:04 remaining in the first.

Toskala finished with 27 saves subbing for Evgeni Nabokov, who missed his second straight game since giving up six goals to Montreal on Jan. 14.

It was Edmonton's fourth overtime win of the season and San Jose's sixth overtime loss.

Notes: The Sharks reassigned G Nolan Schaefer to Cleveland of the AHL. Schaefer was recalled Monday to back up Toskala against the Tampa Bay Lightning. ... Before acquiring Thornton on Nov. 30, the Sharks were 8-12-14. They've gone 13-5-2 since.

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