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GAME STORY: Oilers 7, Avalanche 4

Edmonton scored five third-period goals to complete a comeback and beat the Avalanche 7-4

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | at COL Post

DENVER, CO - It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Oilers got a bounce-back victory by defeating the Colorado Avalanche 7-4 on Thursday.

Just one day after dropping a tough 4-3 decision to the Anaheim Ducks in an important Pacific matchup, the Oilers earned two points in Denver to regain second place in the division standings.

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Despite the impressive final score, the win didn't come without its share of stress, as they battled back from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits, scoring five goals in the third period to come from behind and prevail.

"Tonight definitely wasn't our best effort as a team, but we found a way to win," said Zack Kassian, who scored the first of five Oilers goals in the final frame. "We've got to be happy with the way we responded in the third… We just knew this was a game we had to win."

Playing the second night of a back-to-back, the Oilers showed some sluggishness in the early stages of the game, falling behind 2-0 on Avalanche goals from Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher.

Colorado leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon picked up his 46th point of the season as he fed a perfect pass to Rantanen, who was streaking towards the net. The Finn made no mistake when he received the pass, as Oilers netminder Cam Talbot had little to no chance to dart across the crease and make the save. Rantanen had his 15th of the season 3:20 into the game.

The Avs extended their lead to 2-0 at the 9:54 mark, as Compher stepped into a slap-shot on a pass from former Camrose Kodiaks AJHL standout Joe Colborne, blasting the one-timer past Talbot for his second goal in just his 12th NHL game.

Video: Huge 3rd period leads Oilers to 7-4 win vs. Avs

The Oilers got a much-needed goal from their fourth line with just 31 seconds to go in the opening frame, as Drake Caggiula's point shot was touched by Mark Letestu and then Andrej Sekera, trickling past goaltender Jeremy Smith for the blueliner's eighth goal and 31st point of the season. 

Caggiula got the 13th point of his NHL career with the helper, while Letestu earned his 33rd point of the season - one away from tying his career high - and has reached the scoresheet in three of Edmonton's last four games.

Last night in Anaheim, the Ducks scored in the final minute of the first period and shortly after the middle frame began. The Oilers did the same to the Avs on Thursday, making it a 2-2 game with a goal just 26 seconds into the second period.

On the equalizer, the Oilers executed a nifty passing play as Kris Russell and Jordan Eberle pulled off a give-and-go before Russell found Milan Lucic on the doorstep for a tap-in to give the hulking winger his 18th of the season. Russell got his ninth point and Eberle his 43rd on the helpers.

Edmonton was unable to capitalize on the momentum, however, as the Avs regained the lead less than four minutes later. In a near carbon copy of their first goal, MacKinnon slid a perfect pass over to Rantanen, who hammered home the one-timer for his 16th of the season and 33rd point, while the Colorado captain got his 47th.

The Avs padded their lead with 2:15 to go in the middle frame, as Rene Bourque lifted a shot over Talbot from close range for his 12th of the season. The Lac La Biche native may only have a dozen tallies on the year, but three of them have come against the team located a little more than 200 kilometres from his hometown.

When the Oilers beat the Avs 6-3 in their first meeting of the season back on November 23, they trailed 3-2 heading into the third period. They looked to write a similar script on Thursday, getting within one goal just 2:44 into the final frame. 

Sekera fired a shot on net from the point and the puck trickled through Smith, sitting just shy of the goal line for a couple seconds before Kassian whacked it home for his seventh of the season.

Their second equalizer of the game came less than two minutes later, as Eberle snuck a wrist shot just under the bar for his second point of the night and 15th goal of the season. Connor McDavid won the faceoff to set up the tying goal, extending his point streak to six games and giving him a League-best 86 on the season.

Sekera assisted on both goals to give him three points on the night - the second time he's posted a three-point game in his NHL career. The Slovak jumped up to 33 points, which is the second-highest total of his career.

Caggiula buried the game-winner in fine fashion with 2:11 remaining in regulation, taking a brilliant feed from Leon Draisaitl and beating Smith with a deke for his fifth NHL goal and second multi-point game of his career.

"That was perfect," Caggiula said of Draisaitl's pass. "It was right on the tape with a lot of speed coming through the middle… It was a timely goal and definitely a confidence booster. I've been getting chances and they just haven't been going in, but it's finally good to get one, especially with the circumstances today, and hopefully I can build off that."

Eberle and Draisaitl scored empty-netters to close out the dramatic comeback, giving the wingers three and two-point nights thanks to their third-period heroics. McDavid assisted on Eberle's insurance marker to bump him up to 87 points as he continues to build his lead in the Art Ross Trophy race.

For the second consecutive night, Laurent Brossoit came on in relief of Talbot, entering the game at the start of the third period and making six saves to earn the second win of his NHL career.

"Those aren't the circumstances that I want to go in, but I like to contribute any way and I'm glad that I did tonight," Brossoit said. "To get only one period in and get a win is a cool feeling."

Both the Oilers and Avs will head to Edmonton for their next game as the teams wrap up this week's home-and-home set and their three-game series Saturday at Rogers Place.

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