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Power play sparks Oilers in win against Maple Leafs

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- A potent power play helped the Edmonton Oilers end a seven-game losing streak on Monday.

Jordan Eberle and Anton Lander scored power-play goals to lift the Oilers to a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rexall Place.

Benoit Pouliot scored two first-period goals for Edmonton (19-39-12), which built a 4-0 lead 10:59 into the game.

The Oilers have scored 10 power-play goals in their past five games.

"The start won us the game," Eberle said. "We came out strong, our line scored on first shift, the power play got a couple of chances and buried them and they didn't really have an answer. They had a bit of a push back, we knew they would, but (goaltender Ben Scrivens) was there to not let any in."

Scrivens made 28 saves in his first career start against his former team. Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on four shots before being replaced by James Reimer in the first period. Reimer made 27 saves.

James van Riemsdyk scored for Toronto (27-38-6), which has lost three straight games and six of its past seven.

"It's definitely not the start we were looking for," Reimer said. "I thought we had a lot of energy and I thought we were prepared well, but we came out and made some early mistakes. They got some bounces and made some great shots and that was kind of the game. It's hard to come back down four goals in this League. We played well for two periods, but we weren't able to get our goals."

Edmonton scored on the first shot 53 seconds into the game when Pouliot took a drop pass from Eberle at the left circle and sent a shot that hit Maple Leafs defenseman Eric Brewer on its way past Bernier.

Eberle scored at 7:18 on the power play to put Edmonton up 2-0. The Oilers right wing took a pass in the slot and lifted a shot over Bernier's shoulder.

"We had a good first period, it is just unfortunate that we didn't play the same way in the second and the third," Pouliot said "We had such a comfortable lead that maybe we thought it was going to be easy from then on, but they pushed back. But it's good to be on the other side of a game like that. The confidence of the guys was so high after we got off to the start we had. The guys felt great, it was just a little unfortunate that we didn't do the same things for the last 40 minutes."

Pouliot scored his second of the period at 8:08 when he found space down the left wing and stepped into a shot that sailed over Bernier's shoulder.

"The shots they scored, we wouldn't have saved them no matter what," Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek said. "They were perfectly-placed shots. The problem was that we gave them 22 [zone] entries that were easy and they were coming through and our structure wasn't there. We had no neutral zone, we had no tracking and they were coming through way too easy and the placement of the shots were pretty good. I don't think you can blame [Bernier] on any of those."

Lander scored another power-play goal at 10:59 of the first to put Edmonton up 4-0. He took a cross-crease pass from Teddy Purcell and lifted a shot over Reimer.

Toronto scored a power-play goal at 13:27 when Dion Phaneuf's point shot was tipped in front by van Riemsdyk and got past goalie Scrivens.

In the second period, the Maple Leafs had a number of opportunities to cut into the lead, but were unable to beat Scrivens. The best chance was from Nazem Kadri, who nearly caught the Oilers goaltender out of position behind his net, but Scrivens was able to scramble back to make the save.

Later in the period, Derek Roy had a solid opportunity to extend the Oilers' lead, but he was stopped by Reimer trying to convert a cross-crease pass.

"It was a nice win for our hockey team," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. "We came out really strong and were sharp in the first period and it was everything I wanted to happen. We capitalized on some opportunities. We got away from some things in the second and started getting a bit too cute with the puck, but (Scrivens) was there for us. We tightened up in the third and had a better period. It was nice to get the win."

The Maple Leafs ran into penalty trouble in the third period, which hampered their comeback bid. Kadri hit Oilers forward Matt Fraser behind the net and was assessed an illegal check to the head penalty at 10:58. Fraser had to be helped off the ice and did not return.

"He was just kind of bent over a little bit and I felt like I was just trying to squeeze by him, but then again, things happen quick," Kadri said. "I didn't mean to hurt him. I don't consider myself a dirty player, I felt like my hands were down. It happens fast, but you hate to see a guy being taken off like that."

The Oilers continue their six-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Toronto hosts the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

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