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Penguins survive Oilers' comeback

by Brian Hunter /
They didn't come out of Mellon Arena with a victory, but the Edmonton Oilers certainly succeeded in putting a scare into the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora each scored twice to stake the Penguins to a 5-0 lead, but the Oilers staged a furious rally over the final 22 minutes of regulation. A late goal in the second period and three more before the halfway point of the third forced the Penguins to hang on, which they ultimately did for a 5-4 victory.

Maxime Talbot added a shorthanded goal for Pittsburgh and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves. Edmonton made a game of it thanks to goals by Fernando Pisani, Tom Gilbert, Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray, but couldn't push a game-tying goal past Fleury.

"We just have to make sure we play 60 minutes," Penguins forward Matt Cooke said following the close call. "We worked so hard for two periods to have a 5-1 lead and just sat back a little bit, and this League's too good to be doing that. Then a couple bad bounces, but we've got to be able to overcome those things."

Sykora scored his second and third goals of the season 1:39 apart to chase Oilers starter Mathieu Garon and create a five-goal cushion with 6:57 left in the second. At that point the Penguins were cruising and it probably just seemed like a blip on the radar when Pisani broke up the shutout and beat Fleury 1:27 before the intermission.

Except then Gilbert and Hemsky scored 28 seconds apart early in the third to make it 5-3, with Hemsky's goal at 3:25 his fourth in the last three games. The Penguins proceeded to let a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage slip away and Souray came out of the box to collect a shorthanded goal at 8:59, scoring on a backhander after a perfect breakaway pass from Kyle Brodziak.

"You want to finish it off, and we had some great looks at the net but it didn't go in," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We have to bear down in those scenarios and make sure we put the game away. We didn't and we let them hang around."

Rookie goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief of Garon but couldn't save the Oilers from a loss as they played on the road for the 10th time in 12 games. It was their second 5-4 defeat in as many nights, with Columbus edging them Wednesday.

"It's tough losing two games in a row by a goal. You look back at plays that could have made a difference," Gilbert said.

Satan and Sykora, both former Oilers, tormented their former team. Satan, who began his NHL career with two seasons in Edmonton, opened the scoring 9:14 into the first and Talbot struck shorthanded at 15:58. Satan got the Penguins going again in the second period, scoring at 7:05 for his eighth of the season and seventh in nine games.

Evgeni Malkin had the primary assist on Satan's second goal and both tallies by Sykora, who skated for Edmonton two seasons ago. Sykora's first goal came on a set play off Malkin's faceoff win, and his second was a rebound following Malkin's one-timer. Malkin leads the League in assists (17) and points (21).

What should have been a laugher from there didn't turn out that way, as the Oilers refused to go quietly.


"With the way it is now, you can just never quit on the game," Souray said. "We were positive and we had a feeling we could come back. It's always easier to say than do, but we had some good efforts in the third. Just a little too little, too late."

The Penguins managed to escape with the two points, clamping down after the Souray goal.

"After that we didn't give up much. We kept our composure after they scored that fourth goal. If there's a positive, we kept our composure the last five minutes," coach Michel Therrien said. "It could have been ugly."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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