Edmonton Oilers Dwayne Roloson makes a save against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period of NHL action in Edmonton, Friday. (CP/Jimmy Jeong)
Winless in an entire month, and closing in on a record for futility, the Oilers finally had reason to celebrate, snapping a 12-game winless skid with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Marty Reasoner, a fourth line forward coming back from an injury, scored the only goal in shootout as the fifth shooter in line for Edmonton against the Avs' front five.
Reasoner was actually amazed to get tapped on the shoulder for the shootout.
"It was a bit surprising," he said. "I didn't think I would be in the top five for our shootout order. I think I'm somewhere behind Ethan Moreau and just before Steve Staios. Definitely in double digits.
"It's good for the mental stability of the guys in the room to get out of this funk."
Reasoner wasn't the only one breathing a huge sigh of relief after the Oilers finally got the losing streak off their backs.
"That's about as good as you can feel for a team that is not going to go to the playoffs," said Lupul. "That was a great feeling. It is a huge weight off our shoulders.
"Hopefully we can start playing some good consistent hockey now."
Lupul, Ales Hemsky and Petr Sykora scored for the Oilers (31-37-7), who also recorded their first win in the 12 games since their deadline deal that sent forward Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders.
"It's a good feeling, I won't kid you," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Everybody is feeling good in the dressing room and it will finally give us a little life.
"More importantly it stops the bleeding. We've been hemorrhaging pretty consistently. It's a good feeling, I won't lie to you."
The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak for the Avalanche (38-29-7), but they remained undefeated in regulation in their last 11, improving to five points behind Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I thought we played pretty good," said Colorado captain Joe Sakic. "Dwayne Roloson was outstanding in net for them. He made some great saves. Paul Stastny had so many chances and just couldn't put it in. We could have used the two points, with the race we are in, but I guess we'll take the one and move on."
Marek Svatos, Brad Richardson and Sakic scored in regulation for the Avs.
Colorado started off the scoring nine minutes into the first period as Ian Laperriere found Richardson open at the left faceoff circle. With a pass from behind the net, Richardson blasted a one-timer past Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson for a 1-0 Avs lead.
Colorado out-shot Edmonton 14-5 in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Colorado added to its lead early in the second, effectively passing the puck around on the power play before Sakic blasted his 32nd of the season past Roloson to extend his scoring streak to five games.
Edmonton cut the lead in half seven minutes later as Hemsky, back after an eight game absence, paid immediate dividends, catching Avs netminder Peter Budaj off guard, as he skated around the back of the net and banked a wraparound shot off Budaj's skate for his 50th point of the season.
The Oilers pulled even five minutes later as Sykora fired a power-play shot from the high slot over Budaj's shoulder for his first goal in 15 games, tying the contest 2-2.
Colorado pressed hard to regain the lead with a power play late in the period, but Roloson stood on his head, making several big saves to keep the score even after the middle frame.
The Oilers' netminder wasn't nearly as sharp on the Avalanche's third goal 4:40 into the third, as he was slow to clear a puck from the crease on a Colorado power play and Svatos swatted it through his legs for a 3-2 Avs lead.
Colorado looked to have the game in hand but a turnover changed that as Lupul came away with a puck in the Avalanche zone and notched his 16th of the season with just 1:47 left to play, sending the game to OT and eventually the shootout.
The Oilers host Nashville on Saturday, their final home date of the season. The Avalanche finish off a three game trip in Vancouver on Sunday.
Notes: The injury-plagued Oilers finally got some relief on Friday as forwards Ales Hemsky and Marty Reasoner and defenceman Tom Gilbert were all able to return to the lineup, cutting the number of injured Edmonton players to seven ... With three healthy bodies back Edmonton had to send three of their emergency call-ups back down, shipping forwards Robert Nilsson and Kyle Brodziak to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL and blue-liner Sebastien Bisaillon to Val d'Or of the Quebec Major Junior League. ... Petr Sykora is the only player on Edmonton's current roster with more than 20 goals this season. Colorado has five ... With five goals and six assists in his last five games, Joe Sakic is now only two points shy of becoming just the fifth player in NHL history to hit the 90-point mark at 37-years or older ... The Avalanche have eight games remaining as they try to catch Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, including two against the Flames. They also play Vancouver three times and have one game stints against Phoenix, Minnesota and Nashville.