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Oilers triumph over Sharks in shootout

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
After an exciting game that either team could have won in the dying minutes or overtime, it came down to a shootout.

Michael Peca went first for the Oilers and scored by faking high and going low under Vesa Toskala's glove. Nils Ekman responded for the Sharks by ringing one off the post and in.

In the second shootout round, Ryan Smyth tucked a backhander under the bar for a goal, while Mike Morrison responded with a dazzling glove stop off Joe Thornton.

The Oilers clinched the win in the final round despite Hemsky being robbed on an outstanding glove save by Toskala. The Sharks netminder just barely held the puck in front of the goal line as it was close enough to go to video review.

But that set the stage for Morrison, who stood his ground to deny Patrick Marleau for the Oilers win.

Marleau had the best scoring chance of either team in the opening minutes of the game, rifling a shot from point-blank range off the crossbar behind Morrison.

Raffi Torres sparked the visitors with a huge hit on Marleau shortly after his scoring chance to help set the pace for Edmonton.

Both goaltenders made some big stops early on. Morrison slid across to stop Nils Ekman on a chance and several minutes later Georges Laraque's one-time attempt was denied by Vesa Toskala.

Morrison came up big again six minutes into the period, stopping Hannan on a rush.

Edmonton capitalized on its first power play of the night as Shawn Horcoff was stationed in front of the San Jose net and picked up a Pronger rebound before roofing it over Toskala.

Several minutes later Steve Staios absolutely crushed a shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Toskala high glove side to double Edmonton's lead. Staios moved into position after undressing Mark Smith at the blueline.

After one period, shots on goal were 6-4 in favour of Edmonton as they took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

San Jose came out flying in the second period, cycling the puck deep in Edmonton's zone and creating chances. Their hard work eventually resulted in the team's second power play of the night and this time they capitalized.

Joe Thornton was standing at the right faceoff dot and the puck bounced right to him. He corralled the puck before wristing it low behind Morrison.

The Oilers looked to move ahead 3-1 several minutes later on a power play blast by Pronger that was tipped in front by Smyth but referee Denis LaRue waived it off, ruling that Smyth's stick was high.

On the next shift, Smyth had another goal taken away from him - this time by Toskala who was seated on the ice when he gloved a backhand attempt.

Nils Ekman almost tied the game up midway through the second as he moved around Morrison but as he was being hauled down by Horcoff his shot went off the far post, bypassing the vacant net.

Shots on goal were 16-15 in favour of Edmonton as the Oilers held a 2-1 lead after two.

Edmonton had a great chance to pull ahead of the Sharks for good early in the third with a two-man advantage. Just as the second penalty was about to expire, Peca picked up a loose puck in the crease and tried to backhand it past Toskala. The Sharks goaltender gloved it down just as it was about to cross the goal line.

On the next shift, San Jose came back up ice and scored to tie it at 2-2. Milan Michalek was sent in on a breakaway and cut left to right before beating Morrison for the goal.

Late in the period the Sharks pressed to take the lead in regulation as they buzzed around the Oilers goal. Mike Morrison stepped up, making a glove save on a difficult shot off the wing from Michalek.

San Jose was outshooting Edmonton 26-25 after regulation time.

In overtime, Staios drove to the net for Edmonton's best chance but was hauled down by Joe Thornton before he could get a clean shot on goal.

Coming back up ice, Michael Peca took a two-minute penalty for hauling down Grant Stevenson setting up a Sharks four-on-three power play to close out OT.

With time ticking down, Morrison came up huge in stoning Scott Hannan to force the shootout.

Shootout Results:
(Goal scorers in bold)

Michael Peca, Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky

Nils Ekman, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau

NOTES: Mike Morrison made his first start in exactly a month - since December 19 - tonight for Edmonton... Jonathan Cheechoo extended his scoring streak to 10 straight games... Hemsky limped to the bench after being hit awkwardly by San Jose's Grant Stevenson but returned... It was only the second time in the last 23 games that the Sharks played overtime... Joe Thornton increased his scoring streak to four games... It was only Edmonton's second win in San Jose since 2000-01.
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