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Rexall Rumbles as Oilers Roll to 6-3 Win

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The three-goal outburst in the third period came courtesy of goals by Jason Smith, Ales Hemsky and Jarret Stoll.

Oilers captain Jason Smith scored to put the Oilers in front for the first time on the night, 4-3. Samsonov fed the puck from the corner to Smith in the slot and the captain backhanded it off the far post, deking out Toskala and sending 16,839 fans into hysterics.

"They were flying in the third period," stated Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. "We just got caught standing around."

For Smith, the winning goal capped an unbelievable effort. He was named first star with a goal, two assists, four shots on goal, seven hits, four blocked shots and a +2 rating.

"He played unreal," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said of Smith. "He was real good last game here as well."

With 11:41 to go in the third, Ales Hemsky converted a cross-ice pass from Ryan Smyth that went just inside the post, beating Toskala.

After the goal, coach Ron Wilson replaced Toskala with Evgeni Nabokov. With the goaltending change, Nabokov saw his first action of the postseason.

"It was just a little rest for Toskala, get him ready for the next game," said Wilson.

A Sharks parade to the penalty box late in the game nixed their chances for a comeback. With Patrick Rissmiller and Ville Nieminen in the box, Jaroslav Spacek fed Jarret Stoll at the left circle where he blasted a shot past Nabokov to give Edmonton a three-goal advantage. Stoll's stick broke on the play which may have fooled the Sharks netminder.

MacTavish noted the importance of the Stoll and Hemsky markers, giving the Oilers some much-needed breathing room to play the fourth liners a little more.

"It's good to come out of here and have a little bit easier game in the last five or 10 minutes," he said.

For the final minute, the fans at Rexall Place stood on their feet and chanted "Roli, Roli" to send the Oilers off to San Jose with a chance to take a 3-2 series lead.

The Sharks' bench boss didn't seem fazed by the screaming hometown fans at Rexall Place nor the three-goal loss.

"I think our crowd's louder than theirs anyway," he scoffed. "Whether you lose 3-2 or lose 6-3 it doesn't matter. You just forget about it and move on to the next game."

The action through the opening minutes was end-to-end though neither team got much in the way of scoring chances until Georges Laraque broke in on the right side and blasted a shot on Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala.

San Jose didn't register its first shot on goal until close to the four-minute mark but they made it count. A turnover at the San Jose blueline created a three-on-two with Joe Thornton, Cheechoo and Ekman. After a brief scramble in front, Cheechoo found Thornton perched to the right side of Roloson where he tapped it in.

Three minutes later, Nils Ekman got the puck right off the draw from Patrick Marleau and rifled it in to double the Sharks' lead.

10 minutes into the game, shots were 6-2 Oilers but Edmonton was trailing by two.

With 7:05 left in the first period, Shawn Horcoff tipped a Jason Smith blast from the point to draw the Oilers within a goal. Horcoff's goal ignited the crowd and got Edmonton back in the game.

Less than a minute later, Michael Peca won a draw in the offensive zone back to Steve Staios whose point shot rang off both posts before going out.

With Patrick Marleau serving a penalty, the Oilers came inches from tying the game up. Jaroslav Spacek ripped a one-timer and Toskala had to extend his left pad to make the save. Smyth was on the doorstep but couldn't jam a rebound past the San Jose netminder.

A minute later, Hemsky took a cross-ice feed in the neutral zone and burst into San Jose territory for a scoring chance. On the same shift, Shawn Horcoff was hammered from behind in to the boards behind the San Jose net with no call from the officials.

"It looked almost identical in my mind to what Georges did to Cheechoo with the absence of blood," noted MacTavish after the game. "He was rattled and shaken coming off the ice. In that respect, they owe us a five-minute major."

Shots on goal after one were 15-4 in favour of the Oilers but San Jose had a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard.

The Sharks went on the attack early in the second period and had several chances to regain their two-goal lead. On one particular opportunity, there was a scramble in the goalmouth with Roloson down and out but somehow Stoll was able to swat the puck out of harm's way.

San Jose moved ahead 3-1 after Cheechoo wristed a shot from the right circle behind Roloson. Several minutes later, the Oilers were on the power play but it was San Jose that almost scored again. Roloson coughed up the puck, creating a two-on-none with Joe Thornton and Mark Smith. Smith fed Thornton, who wired a shot off the post.

To the Oilers' credit, they didn't quit in the face of adversity and continued to take the play to the Sharks. Michael Peca made it a 3-2 game at the 12:28 mark, swatting the puck after Ethan Moreau's initial shot bounced off the end boards. Peca's shot found its way through Toskala for the goal.

Three minutes later, Sergei Samsonov tied the game after coming out of the penalty box. Toskala tried to play the puck but Samsonov intercepted his clearing attempt before backhanding it into the open cage to make it 3-3.

"We were vulnerable (while on the penalty kill), no question. We shrunk right into the slot area and tried to block some shots. We got some big blocks and ultimately got a big block off Gator (Jason Smith)" which led to the Samsonov goal.

"I thought the roof was going to blow off the place at that point," continued MacTavish. "It's almost a two-pointer, you think you're going down 4-2 and then you get out of it with a tie game."

Both sides traded chances with two minutes to go in the middle frame. Ethan Moreau almost backhanded one in at the side of the net and a turnover at the Sharks blueline created a partial break for Joe Thornton, whose blast from the high slot was gloved down by Roloson.

Shots in the second were 15-9 for San Jose.

Dwayne Roloson came up with a trio of big stops early in the third to keep the game tied. First, he denied Cheechoo on a deke in-close. Seconds later, Roloson slid across to stop Matt Carle on a one-timer from the left circle. On the next shift, Roloson came out to challenge a Christian Ehrhoff point shot and turned it away.

Roloson's stellar play early in the frame set the stage for Edmonton's third-period outburst.

So now it's a best-of-three with the Oilers still looking to steal home-ice advantage away from the Sharks. MacTavish made sure to mention the importance of Sunday's Game 5.

"I think the first team that wins one in the opposition's building is probably going to win the series."

NOTES: Milan Michalek missed the second straight game for San Jose. Alyn McCauley also didn't suit up. As a result, Ryan Clowe made his NHL playoff debut for the Sharks... Edmonton went with the same lineup as Game 3... Tonight's game was the first time the Sharks scored more than three goals in a game this series.
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