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Oilers turning the corner after effort versus Avs

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson, right, stops the shot off the stick of Colorado Avalanche left winger Ryan Smyth in the shootout period of the Avalanche's 4-3 shootout victory in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The old adage is that when a team in a slump starts to come out of it, they start playing better but still lose games they should have won.

Last night in Denver, the Edmonton Oilers dropped their fourth straight game - picking up a point in a shootout, mind you - but it was one in which they clearly deserved a better fate.

“I was thrilled with the way that we played,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. “We had all kinds of opportunity. Raffi (Torres) in particular had a great game and all kinds of opportunities as well. I don’t know how many shots he ended up with but it must have been close to 10.”

Torres did have 10 shots on goal and Shawn Horcoff had seven. It was a game that the Oilers showed a lot of resiliency, particularly in their ability to respond each time Colorado took the lead. It was the team’s ability to get a little bit dirtier deep in the offensive end that helped contribute to this.

“We created a lot in the tough areas where we haven’t created that much on the forecheck and in the cycles,” noted MacTavish.

Much like the Minnesota game, the opposition got off to a quick start. Colorado took the lead 3:46 in on a goal by Ian Laperriere but less than four minutes later, Kyle Brodziak responded to tie it up. Tyler Arnason gave Colorado the lead at 11:55 but Dick Tarnstrom tied it 34 seconds later. A minute after that, the power play clicked and Edmonton was in front.

It looked as if the Oilers might be able to hold on but Colorado scored in the third period to force the shootout.

“We played two pretty good games against them and had one point to show for it, which is a little unfortunate,” MacTavish remarked, noting that a loss in a shootout is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Those shootouts are a crapshoot. We largely put pretty good moves out for the shots. Hemmer missed the net on a quick shot but those things are a crapshoot,” he said. “Wolski made a nice move on his first goal. When you score on the first goal when you go first, it’s pretty advantageous.”

MacTavish was also encouraged by the play of Robert Nilsson who has helped light a spark under the team offensively, creating a lot of scoring chances since being recalled from AHL Springfield but still not a lot of points to show for it.

“Robert’s played well – that’s three games in a row for him. He’s playing a lot of minutes in a much more physical and tough league. It’s up to him to be able to play those quality minutes right from the first shift to the last shift.”

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves in helping his team earn a point.

 “They like to work it down low and crash the net, that’s where they generate their offence. We did a good job,” he said. “Overall, we played a great game but we’re just a little unlucky right now.”

Jarret Stoll remarked that the on-ice team meeting held Tuesday in Denver helped the team regain some of its lost confidence.

 “We had a good practice and meeting and responded well,” he said. “We wanted to come out hard and show that we cared.”

Stoll had four shots on goal and assisted on Hemsky’s go-ahead marker in one of his better games of the season.

“Way more positives than negatives to take to Calgary. We created a lot of offensive opportunities out there,” the centre continued. “We battled hard, we skated and moved the puck. It was one of those games where we can definitely take a lot of positives.”

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