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Oilers eliminate Sharks, advance to West finals

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Dwayne Roloson and the Edmonton Oilers
protected the Canadian national anthem from another round of
booing. They knocked out San Jose before the Sharks could get the
series back home.

Michael Peca and Shawn Horcoff scored in front of a sellout
crowd of pompom-waving fans Wednesday night, and Roloson made 24
saves in the biggest game of his career as the eighth-seeded Oilers
beat the Sharks 2-0 in Game 6 of the quarterfinal series.

That put the Oilers in the Western Conference finals for the
first time in 14 years.

"No one wanted to go back for Game 7 in San Jose," Horcoff
said. "To come back and win four straight against that team shows
a lot about our character."

After dropping the first two games in San Jose, Edmonton stormed
back with four straight victories. It is the first time the Oilers
rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a series. They won two in a row
at home and took Game 5 in San Jose after fans there booed the
Canadian anthem.

That was just another sour note during the Sharks' sudden and
unexpected slide.

"It's always tough to lose, especially when you have the series
lead," Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo said. "We're going home.
It's just really disappointing."

Edmonton will now face the sixth-seeded Anaheim Mighty Ducks,
who will host Game 1 on Friday. The winner of the best-of-seven
series will take on the Eastern champion -- Buffalo or Carolina -- in
the Stanley Cup finals.

The Oilers just squeaked into the playoffs but are peaking at
the right time. They upset No. 1 seed Detroit and then took out San
Jose, the top team left in the wild West, to reach the NHL's final
four for the first time since 1992.

"This is obviously an exciting day," forward Ryan Smyth said.
"We want to go down to Anaheim and give ourselves another chance.
... It's nice to shut another team out."

Peca scored when he and Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan chased a
loose puck over the San Jose blue line. He outfought Hannan, and
sent him down to the ice before racing in and wiring a wrist shot
past the glove of goalie Vesa Toskala.

Horcoff doubled the lead with just over 8 minutes left in the
game. He took Todd Harvey's pass from the corner and found himself
alone in front of the net. With Toskala out of position, Horcoff
lifted a shot in under the crossbar.

The Oilers were bailed out by Roloson after taking seven minor
penalties in the first two periods. Roloson got stronger throughout
and posted his first career playoff shutout.

"It's starts from your defense up, and we seem to play solid
defensive hockey," Smyth said.

In the first period, Roloson used his quick glove hand to thwart
Sharks captain Patrick Marleau on a close-in wrist shot. Soon
after, on a 5-on-3 power play, he jumped in the air like a
shortstop to snag a puck flying through the slot.

"We had our opportunities but we never scored," Sharks coach
Ron Wilson said. "It certainly wasn't for lack of trying or lack
of effort. It was one of those nights where we always would seem to
be a foot away from a rebound or overskated an open opportunity.

"We were pressing, throwing everything at them, but it just
didn't work."

Roloson also foiled Nils Ekman on a one-timer in front of the
crease, and got a little help when Steve Bernier fired a shot off
the crossbar in the second period.

He also credited the players in front of him for wiping out
other scoring chances.

"When you're eliminating passing lanes, it's hard for them to
get anything going," Roloson said.

Toskala also played well, stopping Peca on two breakaways in the
first period and flicking out his right pad to stop Horcoff's
breakaway in the second.

The Oilers fans razzed Toskala, who allowed 11 goals in the
previous two games after giving up just five in the first three.
The crowd serenaded the goalie with mocking chants of "Ve-sa!
Ve-sa!"

The Sharks can also blame their exit on their woeful power play.
San Jose was 2-for-27 going into the game and then went 0-for-8 on
Wednesday.

This is the second consecutive season the Sharks have been
knocked out by an Alberta-based team. They lost the 2004 Western
Conference finals to the Calgary Flames, also in six games. San
Jose was an overtime goal away in Game 3 from taking a 3-0 lead in
the series but instead lost in the second extra session.

The turning point on the series came midway through Game 4 when
the Sharks failed to protect a 3-1 lead. The Oilers stormed back in
a 5-minute span to tie the game and then went on to win 6-3.

Game notes
Edmonton fans cheered the U.S. national anthem so loudly
that the noise drowned out singer Paul Lorieau. Oilers fans were
asked to be on their best behavior after some in the crowd in San
Jose before Game 5 booed the Canadian anthem. ... The Oilers are
the only remaining team that has won a Stanley Cup title. They
earned their fifth in 1990. ... Edmonton played its 12th game this
postseason, the most of any team. ... Harvey's assist was his first
playoff point.