Edmonton Oilers\' Sam Gagner scores on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov during first period NHL hockey action in Edmonton on Friday, December 9, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Ulan
EDMONTON - Sam Gagner made the most of his move to the Edmonton Oilers' top line.
Gagner scored a pair of goals and added an assist as the Oilers snapped a two-game losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
Gagner who came into the game with one goal in 21 games this season, said it was a relief to have a break-out game.
"It definitely feels good to turn things around," he said. "There have been times this year where it has been frustrating. You want to contribute to the wins and I have felt like the last little while I have been playing better. It's a good feeling."
The 22-year-old forward now has 10 points in his last nine games.
Ben Eager and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers (14-12-3), who had won just one of their previous six games.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two assists. He has 32 points this season, leading all rookies.
"It was huge for us to bounce back like this," Nugent-Hopkins said. "Tonight we stuck to the game plan and it really paid off. Especially against a team like this."
Oilers head coach Tom Renney was glad to see his team return to form after a pair of sub-par performances.
"It was a much better effort," he said. "We had a bigger commitment to the little things that you need to pay attention to if you want to be successful.
"I got the sense this morning that the players had had enough and were going to do something about it."
Jay McClement replied for the Avalanche (13-16-1), who have lost three in a row and eight straight on the road.
"We got caught out of position too many times and they took advantage of it," said Colorado captain Milan Hejduk. "We need to play with more pride. We didn't execute.
"We got down early and started to try and chase the game. That's not how you win in this league. We have to have a hard look in the mirror and bounce back."
Edmonton opened the scoring six minutes into the game on a great individual effort by Gagner. He stole the puck from Shane O'Brien in the corner and went hard to the net, getting his own rebound off of Kyle Quincey and tucking a power-play goal underneath Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
The Oilers made it 2-0 in the final minute of the opening period as Eager was allowed to get three whacks at the puck before finally chipping in his second of the season.
Colorado cut into the lead three and a half minutes into the second period. Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin missed on an attempt to catch the puck as it came off the boards. It ended up in front of McClement, who swatted it in before Khabibulin could recover.
Edmonton went up 3-1 midway through the second period on a power-play goal as Nugent-Hopkins made a cross-ice feed through Gagner's legs to Eberle, who blasted a shot into the net over Varlamov's shoulder. It was Eberle's 30th point of the season.
Khabibulin atoned for his earlier mistake as he stoned Daniel Winnik on a breakaway with seven minutes left in the game. He then stopped Winnik's rebound attempt and then another rebound shot by David Jones.
The Oilers took a three-goal at the end of the second period as Nugent-Hopkins fed Gagner on a 2-on-1 opportunity for his second of the game.
Notes: Both teams had players out due to league disciplinary actions. Colorado's Kevin Porter is in the midst of a four game suspension for kneeing Vancouver's David Booth, while Oilers D Andy Sutton is suspended indefinitely for a hit on Carolina's Alexei Ponikarovsky on Wednesday, his second suspension of the season. Colton Teubert was called up to take his place…Avalanche D Ryan Wilson (head) and F Paul Stastny (upper body) missed the game. The Avalanche put Stastny on injured reserve so they could call up rookie Brad Malone from the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters. Malone made his NHL debut against the Oilers... After starting the season with six consecutive road wins, the Avalanche are now 0-7-1 in their last eight games as the visiting team.