<
>

Gagner's three points keep Oilers alive as Edmonton dispatches Canucks

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Sam Gagner had a goal and two assists, Dwayne Roloson made 43 saves and the Edmonton Oilers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Ales Kotalik, Denis Grebeshkov, Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray also scored to help the Oilers snap a three-game losing streak.

"It just feels good to win a game and to get some smiles around here," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said. "We just want those last two games against Calgary to mean something More for our own psyche than anything else."

Edmonton is three points behind St. Louis and Nashville in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

"It was a big win, for sure," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish after his 300th career win. "It buys us a little time and buys us a little hope and that's all we could ask for going into the game tonight."

Mason Raymond, Kyle Wellwood and Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver. The Canucks missed an chance to move two points ahead of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead.

"At the end of the day, their goaltender played a real solid game," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "In my mind he was the difference in this game. One thing that was uncharacteristic was when ever we got close we made mistakes that we don't usually make and they found a way to put it in the back of our net, so they made us pay for our mistakes and we weren't able to do the same thing."

Kotalik opened the scoring 27 seconds into the first period, picking up a rebound on Shawn Horcoff's shot and stuffing it past Roberto Luongo.

The Oilers made it 2-0 midway through the second. Gagner's wide shot bounced off the boards to Grebeshkov and he was able to hook the puck in while lying on his back after being knocked down in front of the net.

The Canucks finally got a goal 7 minutes into the third when Mats Sundin sent a backhand to Raymond in front of the net and he was somehow able to stuff in it between Roloson and the post.

The Oilers regained the two-goal cushion midway through the third on Gagner's highlight-reel goal. He danced past a pair of defenders, then deked Luongo with a backhander to make it 3-1.

Vancouver pulled within one again with 7 minutes when Burrows scored on a breakaway. Roloson made the initial save, but Burrows was able to tuck in his own rebound for his 28th goal of the season.

But just 2 minutes later, Edmonton struck again as Souray earned his 50th point of the season with a power-play blast.

The Canucks cut the lead to one once more with just 1:37 to go on Wellwood's power- play goal, but Hemsky countered with an empty-net goal.

Game notes
The teams spilt the season series 3-3. ... Taylor Pyatt was not with the Canucks after returning home to Thunder Bay, Ontario. His fiancee died in a car crash in Jamaica this week.