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Blue Jackets steal win in marathon shootout

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Action was slow-paced to start the game with the Oilers registering their first shot on goal 5:23 into the opening period. Columbus had two shots of their own at that point but no bona fide scoring chances.

With only three shots on goal through the first 16-and-a-half minutes of the period, the Oilers had a chance to score the game's first goal after Rostislav Klesla took a tripping penalty.

On the ensuing power play, the Oilers kept the play deep in the Blue Jackets zone but couldn't generate a shot on goal throughout the two minutes.

Each team had four shots in the opening period.

The Oilers had a chance to draw first blood early in the second after the Blue Jackets took their second and third penalties of the evening. The best scoring chance came on a tricky backhand attempt from the left circle by Ryan Smyth that Denis stopped but had trouble handling late in the third penalty.

Midway through the period, Columbus had a great chance to score but a great defensive play by Marc-Andre Bergeron saved the day. Markkanen lost the puck when trying to play it behind the net and was caught out of position as Jason Chimera had a wide-open cage. But Bergeron slid through the crease to take away the goal by blocking the lower portion of the net.

Denis came up with a huge stop with 7:19 left in the second. Hemsky dropped a pass to Horcoff, who blasted it from the top of the left circle. Ryan Smyth got good wood on the rebound but Denis gloved it out of mid-air.

Edmonton finally took its first penalty with 5:18 to go in the middle frame. Torres upended Vyborny as he was speeding through the neutral zone, sending Columbus on the power play. The man advantage ended prematurely as Adam Foote was sent off for tripping before Torres came out of the box.

The Oilers thoroughly dominated Columbus in the second period, outshooting them 13-4 and 17-8 in the game overall but after two the game remained scoreless.

Early in the third period, Denis came up with another huge save as he snagged a rising wrist shot off the stick of Fernando Pisani as the Oilers went on the attack while shorthanded.

Later on that same Columbus "power play" Steve Staios rifled a shot from the point that Denis had trouble handling. The rebound was put on net by Stoll. As Hemsky came out of the box after serving his penalty he was denied on a wraparound attempt by the Blue Jackets netminder.

With 5:08 left in the third period, Steve Staios teed up a shot from the high slot that beat Denis high blocker side, giving Edmonton a 1-0 lead.

The Oilers looked to have the game sewn up until Nikolai Zherdev scored with three minutes left in the third to tie the game at 1-1. Zherdev outwaited Dick Tarnstrom who went down to block the puck before wristing the puck past Markkanen.

After regulation, the shot count was 26-18 for the Oilers.

With time winding down in overtime, Jaroslav Spacek had a great chance from the top of the Columbus crease to jam the puck past the Jackets' netminder but as was the case most of the night, Denis was stalwart in making the save.

Shootout Results:
(Goal scorers in bold)

Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Radek Dvorak, Fernando Pisani, Michael Peca, Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Shawn Horcoff

Jaroslav Balastik, Rick Nash, David Vyborny, Nikolai Zherdev, Sergei Fedorov, Jan Hrdina, Trevor Letowski, Jason Chimera

NOTES: Jason Smith (bruised toe) did not dress for the Oilers tonight... Bryan Berard (back) was a scratch for Columbus... Columbus set a franchise record with their fifth straight win tonight... With an attendance of 16,839 the Oilers had their 23rd sellout of the season and 18th consecutive... Jaroslav Balastik is now 5-for-6 in shootouts this season for Columbus.
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