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NHL Game Summary - Colorado at Edmonton

(Saturday, March 22nd)

Final Score: Edmonton 7, Colorado 5

Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - Sam Gagner scored the deciding tally in a wild third period, and the Edmonton Oilers hung on to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 7-5, at Rexall Place.

The clubs combined for seven goals in the final stanza, with Colorado erasing a three-goal deficit in a little more than 2 1/2 minutes. The Avs fell behind only 18 seconds later, though, and never recovered.

Gagner recorded his first career two-goal game, and Ales Hemsky had three assists for the Oilers, who have won four of five and pulled within three points of Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Dwayne Roloson got the win, recording 29 saves.

"We wanted to play more loose and relaxed and have some fun out there," said Gagner afterward. "When the team's going well it's a lot easier to have individual success. There's been some big goals coming from everybody."

Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist, and Joe Sakic had a pair of helpers for Colorado, which has dropped four straight and holds a precarious two-point lead over Nashville for that eighth spot. The Predators topped the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, in a shootout on Saturday.

Jose Theodore had a disastrous outing for the Avs, allowing three goals on eight shots. Peter Budaj stopped 17-of-20 the rest of the way.

Colorado played its second straight game without ailing center Peter Forsberg, who remains sidelined with a groin injury. Forsberg has missed five of the last six games, while defenseman Adam Foote sat for the fifth time in seven games after aggravating a hip problem.

The Avs, who trailed 4-1 entering the third period, stunned the Oilers with three goals in a span of 2:33.

Ruslan Salei got it started at 1:43 when his shot from the left point was deflected on its way to the net. Wojtek Wolski then stationed himself at the top of the crease and ripped a feed from Sakic top-shelf at 3:41, before Hejduk tied it up and silenced the crowd when he wristed a shot that beat Roloson to the blocker side at 4:16.

Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish quickly called a timeout to help the club regroup, and just 18 seconds later, Marc-Antoine Pouliot knocked home a loose puck during a scramble in front to give Edmonton a 5-4 lead.

Gagner sent a shot to the top corner to extend Edmonton's lead to 6-4 with 9:12 remaining. John-Michael Liles then tallied for the Avs with just 2:42 to play, but Marty Reasoner was credited with a goal for Edmonton after he was hooked on his way to an empty net with 10 seconds left.

"I've been around the game a number of years and you know that these things can and do at times happen," said MacTavish, referring to the wild finish. "Hopefully you can just draw on that experience to come back from it."

These teams meet again Wednesday at the Pepsi Center.

Edmonton wasted no time in jumping to a 1-0 lead, as Hemsky corralled the puck and, in a two-on-two, sent a feed to Dustin Penner that he tapped past Theodore just 50 seconds in.

Hemsky provided the magic again to make it 2-0, as he led an odd-man rush and dropped a no-looked pass for the trailing Gagner, who fired a shot from the inner edge of the left circle that beat Theodore to the far side at 11:30.

Fernando Pisani continued the rout and chased Theodore from the contest when he one-timed a shot past the screened netminder about three minutes later.

The Avs cut it to 3-1 early in the second period, as Tyler Arnason scored on the power play. The Oilers rebuilt their three-goal edge, though, when Kyle Brodziak's wrister skipped through the five-hole of Budaj and trickled over the goal line, giving Edmonton a 4-1 lead at 9:14.

Game Notes

Colorado had won eight of nine before its losing streak...With 16 multiple- point games on the season, Hemsky now leads the team...Avs forward Paul Stastny returned after missing a game with the flu...Both teams have six games remaining in the regular season...Sakic recorded his 1,000th career NHL assist, and finished the game with 1,001. Sakic has played 82 games against Edmonton and has 35 goals and 60 assists for 95 points.

03/22 19:58:59 ET

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