Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Oilers peak to reach finals

AP , EDMONTON, ALBERTA

Josh Gorges, second left, of the San Jose Sharks and Jarret Stoll, second right, of the Edmonton Oilers battle for the puck as goaltender Vesa Toskala, right, covers up in game six of the Western Conference semifinals at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Michael Peca and Shawn Horcoff scored and Dwayne Roloson made 24 saves on Wednesday as the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers held off the San Jose Sharks 2-0 in Game 6 of the quarterfinal series to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in 14 years.

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'll face the sixth-seeded Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who will host Game 1 today. 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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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