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Hall scores game-winner in third period as Oilers edge Avalanche 3-2

The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Taylor Hall celebrates his winning goal against the Colorado Avalanche during third period NHL hockey action in Edmonton on Thursday, November 25, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Ulan Author: The Hockey News

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Hall scores game-winner in third period as Oilers edge Avalanche 3-2

The Canadian Press
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EDMONTON - Edmonton head coach Tom Renney publicly blasted his team after the Oilers were routed in Phoenix on Tuesday, and so far his post-game rant appears to be getting results.

Rookie Taylor Hall scored the winning goal with just 29 seconds left and added an assist as the Oilers defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Thursday.

Hall scored his fifth of the season for Edmonton (6-11-4), which won at home for the first time since Oct. 10.

“It was definitely a big goal for our team, no matter who got it,”said Hall, who took a nice feed from fellow rookie Jordan Eberle on the winning-goal.“Especially to get a home win like this; to put our sticks up at the end of the game and know we played our hearts out.”

Renney, who lashed out at his players for looking listless in a 5-0 loss to the Coyotes, said that Hall is the kind of guy you want to have a last minute opportunity like he did.

“What I like about Taylor is that he is going to shoot it through the net when he has an opportunity like that,”Renney said.“He's not just going to get it there, he's got everything on it. It was a great play all around just to get it to him.”

Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule also scored for the Oilers.

Veteran goalie Martin Gerber made 35 saves to record his first NHL win in almost 20 months. He was called up after regular starter Nikolai Khabibulin went down with a groin injury.

“It is a great feeling to even get to start a game at this stage in my career,”said the 36-year-old, who spent last year playing in Russia before signing on with the Oilers organization to play for their farm club in Oklahoma City this summer.

“It's a great opportunity and it felt great to be in there. The guys played really well in front of me and it made it a lot easier.

Gerber also had an assist on the winning goal.

Kevin Shattenkirk and Matt Duchene scored for the Avalanche (12-9-1), who have lost two straight but remain in a first-place tie with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division.

Edmonton got off to a good start with a goal just 1:40 into the contest. Coming off a scramble in the Colorado zone, Brule made a great diving backhand shot that deflected past Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj.

Just over two minutes later it was a 2-0 as Brule angled Avs defenceman Ryan Wilson off of the puck behind the net where Cogliano picked it up and backhanded it in. Edmonton scored on its first two shots on the game.

Colorado cut the lead in half six minutes into the first as Shattenkirk's shot travelled across the goal line before hitting the stick of defender Jim Vandermeer and inching past Gerber.

Edmonton was outshot 12-4 in the first period, making it six straight games they have had five or fewer first period shots, a span in which they have been outshot 75-25 in opening frames.

The Avalanche tied the game up on the power play three minutes into the second period as a puck got caught up in the skates of defenceman Theo Peckham before Duchene swooped in and sent it into a wide-open net.

Budaj kept it a 2-2 draw midway through the third, making big saves on both Hall and Shawn Horcoff when his team got caught running around.

Gerber responded with a big glove save on Ryan O'Reilly with six minutes left in regulation.

“We didn't have a good start to the game,”said Colorado coach Joe Sacco.“We had a few guys that weren't ready when the puck dropped and that cost us a couple of goals. We got ourselves back into it and played pretty well after that until we got caught on our heels a little bit in the third.

“You certainly don't want to give up a goal in the last minute of the game.”

Both teams return to action on Saturday as the Avs return home to play Minnesota and the Oilers play host to the San Jose Sharks.

Notes: Oilers forward Ales Hemsky was a scratch with a groin injury. ... Edmonton defenceman Ladislav Smid returned to the lineup following a concussion suffered after being jumped by the Rangers'Sean Avery. ... Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is close to returning from a groin injury. Oklahoma City call-up Martin Gerber got his firststart of the season in his absence. ... The Avalanche were also without a goalie as Craig Anderson left their game against Vancouver on Wednesday with a groin injury. Anderson was making just his second start after missing 10 games with a knee injury. Jason Bacashihua was called in to serve as Budaj's back-up. ...The Avs also lost captain Adam Foote to a knee injury in the Vancouver game. ...It was the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Avalanche went 3-2-1 against the Oilers in 2009-10.

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Hall scores game-winner in third period as Oilers edge Avalanche 3-2