<
>

Horcoff's hat trick powers Oilers past slumping Pens

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Edmonton Oilers center Shawn Horcoff's first
three-goal performance in 309 NHL career games led to the first big
blowup by Michel Therrien in his 11 games as Pittsburgh's coach.

Therrien ripped his team after Horcoff scored on a power play,
short-handed and even strength during the Penguins' eighth loss in
11 games under the former Montreal Canadiens coach.

On a night his team was flat, Therrien was emotional and visibly
angry.

"It's a pathetic performance," Therrien said of a team that
has allowed a league-high 166 goals. "Half of the team doesn't
care. ... They're doing the best job to be the worst defensive
squad in the league. They turn the puck over, they have no vision.
The guys don't care. They pretend to care, but I know they don't
care.

Therrien repeated a vulgarity several times to describe his
defensemen, including $25 million free agent Sergei Gonchar, who
has been a huge disappointment. Still, only two Penguins defensemen
were minus for the night -- Ryan Whitney and Dick Tarnstrom were a
minus-1 -- and the other four were even.

That didn't appease Therrien, who has a reputation for being
tough and demanding but so far has been mostly upbeat about a
mostly young Penguins team that is tied with the Capitals for the
fewest points (31) in the Eastern Conference.

"We should take 50 percent of their salaries because they play
only 50 percent of the time," Therrien said.

Even super rookie Sidney Crosby didn't look like he was into the
game, getting only two shots, both in the first period. He had
eight goals and nine assists during a 10-game scoring streak.

"Horcoff had three great chances and he converted all of
them," said Crosby, who preferred to talk about the game's scoring
star rather than his own play. "He got it right tonight."

At least to Therrien, the Penguins got it all wrong.

"What's the solution?" Therrien said. "I'm going to find the
solution."

The Penguins would have been shut out by Edmonton for their
first time in their 39-year history if Ryan Malone hadn't gotten
his stick in a Josef Melichar shot from the left point in the third
period. No matter, Pittsburgh still lost its third in a row and
16th in 20 games.

Ryan Smyth set up the first two Horcoff goals as the Oilers
ended an eight-game losing streak (0-6-2) in Pittsburgh that dated
to Feb. 18, 1993, not long before the Penguins began an NHL record
17-game winning streak.

"It's a great feeling," the 28-year-old Horcoff said of his
first hat trick since he played at Michigan State. "It was just a
matter tonight of being in the right spots."

Edmonton had lost four of six overall, but improved to 13-8-2 on
the road to 3-3-1 against Eastern Conference teams. The Penguins
are 1-5 against the Western Conference and have lost 16 of 22 home
games (6-11-5).

Crosby stayed out of the penalty box after drawing six penalties
in two games last weekend against Atlanta, but that didn't make
much difference. Pittsburgh managed 18 shots against a barely
tested Jussi Markkanen, 11 in the first two periods as the Penguins
twice took penalties to shorten all but one of their three power
plays.

"I thought our defense played extraordinary," Oilers coach
Craig MacTavish said.

Tarnstrom drew the game's first two penalties, then was on the
ice when Smyth picked up a loose puck just inside the neutral zone
and fed it ahead to Horcoff, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury between the
pads.

Horcoff scored again in the first minute of the second period,
skating down the slot to feather a backhander past Fleury, who
turned aside 28 of 31 shots but only three of Horcoff's six shots.

Horcoff's final goal, his 14th, came in the final minute on a
power play.
^Notes:@ Edmonton is 7-2-2 in its last 11 road games. ... Penguins F
Ziggy Palffy has one power-play goal in 36 games. ... Radek Dvorak
missed his 14th game in the Oilers' last 15 with a sore groin. ...
The Penguins' seven short-handed goals allowed are two fewer than
the league high of nine, shared by three teams. ... Crosby was shut
out for the first time since a 3-0 loss to St. Louis on Nov. 13
that led to former coach Eddie Olczyk's firing. ... Edmonton was
1-of-6 on the power play. ... Edmonton had gone so long without
winning in Pittsburgh, the former NFL Oilers -- who have been called
the Tennessee Titans since 1999 -- had won there long after they
did, in 1998.