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Oilers 5, Avalanche 2 @NHL

DENVER (AP) - An exhausting, seven-game road trip finally came to an end for the Oilers. And now, maybe Edmonton will start feeling a little more like home to Chris Pronger.

Pronger, the star defenseman traded away by St. Louis last summer after nine seasons with the Blues, scored his first goal for the Oilers on Monday night in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

"Yeah, absolutely," Pronger said when asked if it felt good to finally get off the schneid.

Pronger, who now has the goal to go with his nine assists, broke through against David Aebischer after taking a pass from Ales Hemsky at the top of the circle just as a 5-on-3 power play was ending. The goal made it 3-2 late in the second period and helped make a winner of goalie Mike Morrison in his first career start.

"I felt fine out there," Morrison said. "I just wanted to savor the moment and keep it simple, and do the things I've always done."

Nursing the one-goal lead in the third, Raffi Torres of the Oilers took a fabulous pass from Hemsky, who beat falling defenseman Patrice Brisebois, and Torres slammed it past Aebischer for the insurance goal. A few minutes later, Marty Reasoner made it 5-2 and sent Avalanche fans heading to the exits.

The Oilers, who went on a seven-game losing streak earlier in the season that prompted coach Craig MacTavish to call their effort in one game a "stand-alone product for ineptitude," moved back above .500 at 10-9-1.

They finished the road trip 4-3 and avoided the fate they suffered on their last trip to Denver, when they gave up three goals over the final 6:15 in a 5-3 loss.

"This was a key game for me," MacTavish said. "We played 14 games away from home and only six at home. So we are poised to make a move. This was a big turning point."

Morrison was recently called up from minor league Greenville to take the spot of the injured Ty Conklin. In this, his first start, he made 31 saves and staved off a 65-second 5-on-3 opportunity by Colorado in the second period.

The Avalanche weren't surprised.

"Everybody that plays in the NHL is a pretty good player and it doesn't matter if he's the backup goalie or not," Avalanche forward Ian Laperriere said. "He showed that and proved he belonged."

The Avs fell behind by multiple goals early for the second straight game. On Saturday against Calgary, they trailed 4-0 en route to a 5-3 loss. In this one, they gave up two goals over the first 10 1/2 minutes.

"I don't really have an explanation for that," forward Milan Hejduk said.

Rob Blake scored late in the first and Laperriere tied it midway through the second, but Colorado never could take the lead. Aebischer, chased from the Calgary game, stayed in for the entirety of this one. He made 17 saves and was hurt by some porous defense in front of him.

Ryan Smyth opened the scoring with an uncontested shot placed perfectly over Aebischer's left shoulder from just outside the crease. Edmonton's second goal came on what looked more like a centering pass than a shot by Jarret Stoll. It hit Ethan Moreau, who was part of some heavy traffic in front of the net, and went in.

Still, Pronger's go-ahead goal had to be the highlight for the Oilers. Much was expected of the highly regarded defenseman, but both he and Edmonton's other big offseason pickup, Michael Peca, have struggled.

Both now have one goal on the season. Pronger celebrated his with a big fist pump and got heartier-than-usual congrats from his teammates, who now find themselves one point ahead of Colorado for third place in the Northwest Division.

"This was a big step for us," MacTavish said.

Notes: Avalanche F Pierre Turgeon missed the game with a sore hip. ... The Oilers now go home for three straight games, starting Thursday against Detroit.

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