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Oilers beat Canucks, tie for 7th in West

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Steve Staios gave the
Edmonton Oilers breathing room in the game and took it away from
the Vancouver Canucks in the standings.

Staios scored the eventual winning goal early in third period
Saturday night, helping the Oilers beat the Canucks 3-2 and salvage
a win in the three-game series between the teams.

After losing to Vancouver in regulation on Tuesday and in a
shootout on Thursday, Edmonton finished the set tied with the
Canucks for seventh place in the Western Conference.

"That was as big as they get at this time of the year," Staios
said. "We knew we needed it. We didn't want to put too much
pressure on it, but we certainly knew this was a huge game for
us."

Ryan Smyth and Sergei Samsonov also scored for the Oilers, who
blew a third-period lead on Thursday before hanging on to beat the
Canucks on Saturday.

"Anytime you give up a lead in a game, the next one seems like
every play is life or death," said Staios, who pinched in to
convert a rebound of Rem Murray's attempted wraparound at 2:07 of
the third, giving the Oilers a 3-1 lead.

Brendan Morrison closed the gap 2 minutes later, stopping
teammate Markus Naslund's slap shot just before it reached Dwayne
Roloson, then tucking a backhand deke past the surprised
goaltender, who went down to stop the first drive.

Unlike Thursday, the Oilers responded by tightening up. They
held the Canucks without a shot for the next 10 minutes.

"We all knew how important it was for us," Edmonton coach
Craig MacTavish said. "There's so much parity between the two
teams that any emotional edge is a considerable advantage and a lot
of times the deciding factor. They played hard, too, but we knew we
needed to win and we did as good a job as we've done all year long
in the third period defending the lead."

When Vancouver finally added some pressure, Roloson responded
with his biggest save since being acquired from Minnesota on March
7. He robbed Naslund from point-blank range with 2:44 left.

"He made a great move and I was just able to stay with him,"
said Roloson, who finished with 23 saves to level his Oilers record
at 3-3-3. "It made up for the easy one I let in the other night."

Ryan Kesler also scored, and Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi each had
two assists for the Canucks, who have 10 games remaining. The
Oilers will play 11 more times.

Vancouver and Edmonton both lead ninth-place Los Angeles by one
point, with the San Jose Sharks another point back in 10th. They
have 13 games remaining.

"It's unfortunate, we could have put them behind us a little
bit," Naslund said of the Oilers. "We played a strong game. We
just didn't get the breaks when we needed them."

Smyth opened the scoring with a short-handed goal midway through
the first period after Eric Weinrich's turnover just inside the
Edmonton blue line created a 2-on-1 break the other way. Shawn
Horcoff fed the puck to Smyth, who one-timed the cross-ice pass
beyond the outstretched glove of Alex Auld.

Kesler tied it 22 seconds into the second period, knocking his
own rebound past Roloson, but Samsonov restored the Oilers lead on
a power play midway through the period. He pounced on a rebound as
Auld was reaching to smother the puck with his glove, and snapped
in his 20th goal of the season before Auld, who finished with 26
saves, could recover.

Game notes
Oilers G Ty Conklin caught an afternoon flight to Denver,
where he is expected to start against Colorado on Sunday. It will
be the first time in 10 games since coming to Edmonton that Roloson
won't start. ... Canucks RW Anson Carter played in his 600th NHL
game. ... Referees Paul Devorski and Marc Joannette worked all
three games in this week's series. ... Smyth's goal was his first
in five games. ... Kesler, playing between Naslund and Bertuzzi
since the third period Thursday, has two goals and three assists
during a four-game point streak.