Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, left, looks on as teammate John-Michael Liles reacts after being struck in the face by a shot from the Edmonton Oilers during second period NHL hockey action in Edmonton on Thursday, December 30, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Ulan
EDMONTON - Milan Hejduk saved the Colorado Avalanche from giving away a timely win.
Hejduk scored the shootout winner as the Avalanche snapped a three-game winless skid with a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
Colorado held a commanding 3-0 after the first period, but the Oilers were able to fight back and send it to extra time.
TJ Galiardi, Paul Stastny and Tomas Fleischmann scored in regulation for the Avalanche (20-12-5) who are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
"We're happy to come out with the two points," Stastny said. "I think we took it to them in the first period and then they started taking it to us. We got caught on our heels a little bit.
"Down the road, they won't look at how we got it, just that we got the two points."
Colorado coach Joe Sacco felt his team came close to letting the game get away from them.
"We just needed to regroup and get back to what made us successful in the first period," he said. "We got away from it there for a while but in the third we got back to what made us successful. Overall it is a good start for our road trip to get the two points in the bank."
Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky and Andrew Cogliano replied for the Oilers (12-17-7) who have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight.
Rather than focus on the tough first period that put his team in the hole in the first place, Oilers head coach Tom Renney was more interested in how his team fought back to make a game of it.
"A game like tonight illuminates a lot of things," he said. "I'm hoping it illuminates what we are capable of in respect to our character and ability to push back."
Hall said he felt he was one of those that needed to step up and change the direction the game was headed.
"I think it was really important for the young guys to just go out there and just do whatever we could do to help win the second period," he said. "I think there were two or three shifts there by our line that turned the game around for us."
Colorado got off to a good start, scoring just over three minutes into the first period as Galiardi's shot deflected in past Oilers starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
The Avalanche made it 2-0 with eight minutes to play in the opening period as David Jones fought off a pair of defenders behind the Oiler net and sent it in front to Stastny, who rang his 14th off the season off of the post and in.
The Oilers' sloppy defensive play came back to haunt them again a couple of minutes later. After they failed to clear the zone, Fleischmann got the puck alone in front and scored his 10th of the year.
Edmonton finally got on the board just before the halfway point of the second period. Sam Gagner dug the puck out of a crowd in front of the net and sent it to Hall, who scored the 12th of his rookie season past Colorado starter Craig Anderson.
The Oilers had a chance to close to within one goal with seven minutes left to play in the second but a Cogliano shot that looked to be on its way in instead hit defender John-Michael Liles directly in the face. Liles left the ice clutching a towel to his head to stop the blood but returned for the third.
Edmonton made it 3-2 less than two minutes into the third period as Hemsky used Dustin Penner as a screen and picked the top corner.
The Oilers tied the game three minutes later as Hemsky picked up a puck behind the Colorado net and quickly dished it in front to Cogliano, who beat Anderson through his legs.
The overtime period proved to be a tense one as both teams had to kill off penalties to make it to the shootout.
Both teams will next play against the Calgary Flames. The Avalanche play in Calgary on Friday and the Oilers host the Flames on Saturday.
Notes: It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams. The Oilers won the first game 3-2 despite being outshot 37-24…Oilers defenceman and leading scorer Ryan Whitney could be out for the long haul. He is currently waiting for the swelling on his injured right ankle to go down to determine whether surgery that could keep him out of the lineup for two months will be needed. Whitney leads the Oilers with 25 assists and 27 points…Edmonton is also missingcaptain Shawn Horcoff (knee) and defenceman Jim Vandermeer (ankle)…Gilbert Brule returned from an illness, sending rookie Linus Omark into the press box…Colorado centre Phillip Dupuis went down behind the play early in the first period and had to be helped off the ice. He did not return…Avs defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk was able to play despite taking a deflected puck to the face on Monday. Fellow blue-liner Kyle Cumiskey, who has missed 26 games with a concussion, is on the trip. Other significant injured players included forwards Peter Mueller (concussion) and Chris Stewart (hand)…Neither team has been very good on the penalty kill this season as Colorado entered the contest ranked 29th in the category at 75.9 per cent, while the Oilers were dead last at 72.3 per cent.