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Avalanche hold on for 3-2 win

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Seven minutes into the game, the only shot on goal for either side was a low wrister from Ryan Smyth at the right faceoff dot that Aebischer had no problems handling.

Colorado finally registered its first shot at the 7:14 mark of the opening frame and made it count. Ian Laperriere wristed one from the slot that beat Morrison five-hole.

Despite the early setback, the Oilers did not change their game plan, continuing to attack the Avalanche side of the ice. Shots on goal 14 minutes into the period were 7-2.

Colorado extended their lead to 2-0 with less than a minute remaining in the opening period. Ian Laperriere picked up a pass from Antti Laaksonen off the side boards and deked Morrison in front for his second of the game.

Shots on goal after one were 9-4 for the Oilers but the hosts trailed 9-4 heading into the intermission.

The Oilers struck early in the second period on the power play as Marc-Andre Bergeron blasted one from the blueline that made its way through traffic and past a screened David Aebischer.

Edmonton almost tied it up a couple minutes later when Aebischer had trouble handling the puck and poked it to Dvorak while out of position but Dvorak shot wide of the open cage.

Midway through the period, the Oilers tied it up. Just as a Colorado penalty expired, Torres rifled the puck off the boards springing Laraque and Peca on a two-on-one. Laraque fired a weak shot from the side boards and Peca was right there at the side of the net to put home the rebound five-hole past Aebischer.

Colorado had a great chance to get back in the game with six minutes to play in the middle frame. Radek Dvorak and Jason Smith were in the box putting Colorado on a two-man advantage for just over a minute but Oilers penalty killers did their job, not allowing the Avalanche to even get close to their net.

With time ticking down in the second, the Avs missed a glorious scoring opportunity. Andrew Brunette had a wide open net after an odd bounce saw him with the puck but he couldn't get a handle on the rolling puck.

Shots on goal were 20-10 after two periods of play in favour of the Oilers.

Both teams came flying out of the gate to open the third period. Colorado had several chances on Morrison early on that the rookie keeper turned away and several minutes later, Ryan Smyth had a pair of good chances as the team's top line created some energy and chances.

Eight minutes into the final frame, Marek Svatos danced into the Oilers zone and pulled a move on Ulanov to break in alone but his shot went wide.

After Mike Morrison made a series of stops during a flurry in front of the Edmonton net, the puck rolled to the corner where Ulanov's clearing attempt was picked off by Joe Sakic and subsequently roofed from the right faceoff circle.

The Oilers went on the attack immediately after the go-ahead marker to try and tie the game up once again, peppering Aebischer with shots. Radek Dvorak received an outstanding pass deep in the Avs zone from Raffi Torres but the Colorado netminder made an even nicer save coming across to get a pad on it.

Joe Sakic took a delay of game penalty with three-and-a-half minutes left in the game for clearing the puck out of the rink. However, although they were able to generate some activity in front of Aebischer Colorado was able to kill off the two minutes.

With 57.4 seconds to go, Colorado got another penalty for tripping Michael Peca. Coupled with Morrison being on the bench for the extra attacker, Edmonton had a six-on-four advantage to close out the game.

NOTES: Prior to the game, the Oilers assigned D Danny Syvret to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. Jani Rita and Krys Kolanos were healthy scratches for Edmonton. Scratches for Colorado were D Bob Boughner, D Kurt Sauer and LW Paul Healey. LW Steve Konowalchuk and C Pierre Turgeon are on injured reserve... Before the game, the Grey Cup Champion Edmonton Eskimos came on the ice with the trophy to a huge ovation...
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