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Sanford comes up big in Blues shootout win

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
In the shootout, Craig MacTavish did what a lot of NHL coaches have been thinking as he went with the "shootout specialist" Mike Morrison in goal, replacing Jussi Markkanen. Morrison only allowed one goal, by Dennis Wideman, but Sanford was the story in making three impressive stops on Oilers shooters.

Morrison, who is now 5-1 in shootouts, actually started the game for the Oilers but was replaced after allowing two goals on five shots early on.

An early goal by Raffi Torres gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Torres wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle that Curtis Sanford could not see with Brad Winchester screening in front.

Several minutes later, the Blues tied it up on a goal from Lee Stempniak. Dallas Drake took a hit behind the Oilers net but was able to get the puck in front to Stempniak in the slot where he wristed it low just out of the reach of Morrison.

It only took the Oilers 23 seconds to move back in front. Ales Hemsky found Marc-Andre Bergeron on the right point where his blast from the point was tipped in front by Ryan Smyth to give the Oilers a 2-1 advantage.

Midway through the period, Jean-Francois Jacques did some excellent forechecking at the end of a shift drawing the game's first penalty as Dennis Wideman tried impede his progress.

St. Louis tied the game up again with just over six minutes left in the period. Scott Young blasted a shot from the point that Morrison got a piece of but it ended up squeeking through his pads. Keith Tkachuk was stationed behind the goaltender to tap it in.

With the goal, Morrison had allowed two goals on five shots and was pulled from the game in favour of Markkanen.

After the first period, shots on goal were 9-7 in favour of the Oilers.

Neither team had a shot on goal through the first six minutes of the second period but St. Louis generated a good forecheck. However, the Oilers did a good job keeping the Blues to the outside and unable to get a shot on goal.

Near the end of the shift, Kyle Brodziak was able to create a turnover in his own zone and sprung in on a breakaway. Sanford made a nice save on Brodziak's deke in-close.

The Oilers had a scary moment eight minutes into the period when Hemsky and Horcoff collided along the boards. Horcoff had to be helped off the ice after the team doctor tended to him. Hemsky also went to the dressing room for repairs. Both players returned to the Oilers bench several minutes later.

Shots on goal 12 minutes into the third were 2-0 Oilers but the Blues made their chances count, scoring on only their second shot of the middle frame when Lee Stempniak pounced on a rebound in the slot to beat Markkanen five-hole and give the Blues their first lead of the afternoon.

On an Oilers penalty kill, Shawn Horcoff created a breakaway chance. He was impeded by Scott Young on the play and unable to get a clean shot off but it spelled an end to the Blues man advantage.

Shots in the second period were 6-5 for the Oilers and 15-12 in the game overall as St. Louis took a one-goal lead into the intermission.

Both teams traded chances early in the third. First, Keith Tkachuk rang a shot off the post and as the play carried back up ice, Ales Hemsky broke in alone on the St. Louis net. Hemsky was upended by Cajanek, putting Edmonton on the power play.

12 seconds into the ensuing man advantage, Ryan Smyth picked up a Chris Pronger rebound in front and banged it in for his second of the game to tie it up at 3-3.

St. Louis didn't register its first shot of the period until just over three minutes remained but they made it count. Dallas Drake shot from the point and through a maze of legs and bodies the puck was able to find Jay McClement who tipped the puck past Markkanen.

Just over a minute later, Georges Laraque scored his second of the season and first at Rexall Place to tie the game at 4-4.

After regulation time, shots on goal were 24-16 for Edmonton.

Early in the extra frame, Curtis Sanford was the difference. 54 seconds into the period, he made a brilliant glove save off a Chris Pronger one-timer to keep his team alive. Not to be outdone, he stuck his glove out to deny Radek Dvorak a minute later on a partial break.

With time ticking down in the OT, Markkanen stopped Tkachuk on a chance from the left faceoff circle and then dove across the crease to deny Petr Cajanek on the rebound attempt.

The Blues actually had one more shot on goal in overtime than in the third period.

Shootout Results:
(Goal scorers in bold)

Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Fernando Pisani

Jay McClement, Keith Tkachuk, Dennis Wideman

NOTES: Prior to the game, the Oilers honoured Olympians on both the Oilers and Blues. For St. Louis: Christian Backman (Sweden), Petr Cajanek (Czech Republic) and Keith Tkachuk (USA). For Edmonton: Ales Hemsky (Czech Republic), Jaroslav Spacek (Czech Republic), Chris Pronger (Canada) and Ryan Smyth (Canada)... Mathieu Roy made his NHL debut this afternoon with the blueline injuries and illness to Jason Smith, Igor Ulanov and Dick Tarnstrom... Jarret Stoll increased his scoring streak to a career-high and Oilers season-high nine games (2g, 8a)... St. Louis played their eighth overtime game in their last 12.
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