Oilers 3, Blues 2, OT
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ Zdeno Ciger’s first goal in over a year for the Edmonton Oilers lifted them to their most important victory of the season.
Ciger, who played most of this season with the Slovakian national team which won the B pool of the world championships, scored at 3:19 of overtime Thursday night as the Oilers won 3-2 over the St. Louis Blues and vaulted over three teams into the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth.
``It was a big play from Dougie Weight, it was a great pass,″ Ciger said. ``I just tried not to hit the goalie.″
While there was jubilation in the Oilers’ dressing room, there was nothing but infuriation in the Blues’ over referee Paul Devorski.
St. Louis appeared to have won the game with 30 seconds left in regulation when Denis Chasse scored. But the goal was disallowed by Devorski after Blues wing Brendan Shanahan was assessed a high-sticking major by one of the linesman.
``It was a poorly officiated hockey game. In fact, it was so poorly officiated that (Oilers general manager) Glen Sather sent down his apologies and doesn’t want to accept the points,″ said Blues coach Mike Keenan, who stormed into the officials’ room following the game. ``He’s upset about it and I’m upset about it, too. I don’t understand it (the high-sticking call).″
While Sather may have been ready to return the points, Oilers coach Ron Low said his team deserved nothing less than the win for the effort his players turned in.
``It (the disallowed goal) was cut and dry,″ said Low, who refused to comment on any other aspect of the officiating. ``We feel 100 percent elation. I don’t think we deserved anything less than two points out of the hockey game we played tonight.″
Edmonton has 38 points, one more than San Jose, Winnipeg and Los Angeles.
The Oilers led 2-0 by the midway point of the second period, but St. Louis recovered late in the middle period and tied the game with two power-play goals.
Edmonton defenseman Ken Sutton opened the scoring when he jumped on a loose puck in the slot and hammered it into a wide-open net at 14:23 of the first period. The Oilers continued to press, but the Jon Casey thwarted several Oilers, including back-to-back stops on rookie Todd Marchant late in the opening period.
Jason Arnott made it 2-0 lead at 10:37 of the second on the power play when he rifled a shot into the top left corner from the blue line.
Defenseman Steve Duchesne made it a one-goal game when he ripped a shot into a wide-open net with Bill Ranford down on the play.
The Blues tied it with another power-play goal. Edmonton’s Kelly Buchberger failed to clear the puck from the Oilers’ zone and it went behind the net to Blues center David Roberts who found Brett Hull alone in front for his 29th goal of the year.