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Surging Oilers top Lightning 4-3 in shootout

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON -- Jordan Eberle scored the shootout winner, but Swedish rookie Linus Omark's clincher in the Edmonton Oilers' 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night was the goal that left the sellout crowd at Rexall Place buzzing.

Eberle started the shootout by beating Dan Ellis with a wrister. After Nikolai Khabibulin stopped Mark Pouliot and Steve Stamkos and Ellis denied Taylor Hall, Omark sent the 16,839 fans home happy in his NHL debut by scoring a spectacular goal that started with a spin-o-rama before he reached the blue line and ended with a wrist shot through Ellis' legs that gave the Oilers their fifth win in six games.

"That's my game," Omark said matter-of-factly. "I do stuff like that. Why should I stop at this level? I knew that if I scored, we win the game, so I took the chance."

Rookie Magnus Paajarvi, who had a goal and an assist, wasn't the least bit surprised that his fellow Swede tried the move.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Paajarvi said. "He's got the tools. When he can win the game, I think he brings it even more. He wants to show it even more. That's a great asset for him.

"The crowd went nets, so that was pretty fun to watch. That's a pretty good debut. I've seen a lot of moves from Omark. He's always got something."

A lot of Oilers fans were familiar with Omark even before he arrived in Edmonton for training camp this fall because they'd seen Internet video of some of his goals.

"I was nervous in the beginning of the game," admitted Omark. "That's my thing. I like to do it for the crowd. Yes, that's good."

The Oilers, playing without captain Shawn Horcoff and top-line forward Ales Hemsky, survived a third period that saw the Lightning outshoot them 17-1 and get the tying goal from Stamkos with 8:27 remaining.

They weren't necessarily impressed with Omark's goal.

"Nice goal, good move by him," forward Simon Gagne said. "Nice move. But in the NHL, there is a line. You don’t want to cross it. I think that time? It was a little bit too much."

Added defenseman Mattias Ohlund: "If one of our young guys did that, the (veterans) would tell him jot to do it anymore. Was it disrespectful? Absolutely."

The Lightning, who were worked hard at practice by coach Guy Boucher on Thursday after Tuesday's 4-2 loss at Calgary, responded by firing 14 shots at Khabibulin in the opening period and skating off with a 2-1 lead.

Randy Jones blew a slap shot past Khabibulin from the point at 5:03, and after rookie Magnus Paajarvi pulled the Oilers even at 11:37 with a slap shot Dan Ellis couldn't handle, Ryan Malone made it 2-1 at 17:48 when he sifted a Teddy Purcell rebound behind Khabibulin for a power-play goal.

But the Oilers regrouped in the second period and scored twice to take a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Hall continued his hot streak when he tied it 5:46 into the period with the Oilers on a power play. The No. 1 pick in last June's Entry Draft tucked a loose puck over Ellis and under the crossbar for his 10th goal of the season and fifth in six games.

Omark, recalled with Ryan O'Marra due to the injuries to Horcoff and Hemsky, picked up his first NHL point in his debut, getting an assist on Tom Gilbert's power-play goal at 16:30 that put the Oilers up 3-2. Omark, who had 26 points in 26 games with the AHL Barons, drove to the net and had his shot stopped by Ellis, but Gilbert buried the rebound on the backhand to put the Oilers in the lead.

The Lightning had the Oilers on their heels for the entire third period, but Khabibulin kept the Oilers ahead until Stamkos ended a six-game goal-scoring drought by one-timing a pass from Martin St. Louis into the net for his 21st of the season, second to Sidney Crosby among all goal-scorers.

Khabibulin made 38 saves through regulation and overtime, plus two in the shootout. In the end, though, Omark stole the show.

"I remember back in the '94 Olympics in Lillehammer, the thing ended in a shootout and I wasn't real happy (after a one-handed move by Peter Forsberg won the gold-medal game for Sweden)," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said.

"One of our guys said, 'Why don't they just throw a football through a tire if that's what it boils down to?' We have the shootout. It's entertainment and 18,000 or 19,000 people had a helluva lot of fun watching that."

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