March 29 2008 11:35PM
(Can you SEE the intensity?) NOT done. Not yet. Written off more times than three-martini lunches at strip joints by crooked accountants, the Edmonton Oilers flipped off their doubters again tonight with a 2–1 win over the Calgary Flames. Languishing in 14th place and 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference 35 days ago, the Oilers awake today tied for the eighth and final post-season berth with the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. Against the odds and after losing a 5–4 shootout heart-breaker in Denver on Friday, the Oilers continued their post-season push on Dustin Penner's 23rd goal of the season and 31 saves by Dwayne Roloson. It ain't over. "From that point a few weeks ago, we've had no die in our game," said assistant coach Charlie Huddy. "We've gone out and we've battled. We've made some mistakes that have ended up in the net and cost us some games, but credit to all the guys. They've dug in and nobody's quit." With two games remaining—a rematch with the Flames at Rexall Place Tuesday and their regular season finale Thursday in Vancouver—the Oilers are 40-34-6 for 86 points. That represents a 13-4-1 roll since Feb. 23, when they were supposed to be stiff and toe-tagged. They still need help because the Predators and Canucks have two games in hand, but Penner's goal 10:48 into the third period and Roloson's ballsy rebound from a tough night in the Mile High City gives the Oilers something to play for in front of the faithful Tuesday. "It's tough to explain," said Steve Staios, asked about the cockroach-like resilience the Oilers have shown. "Everybody's been positive. We've got good energy. We've been able to shake off losses."
It looks like Mathieu Garon's regular season is over. Garon, out with a sprained ankle since March 13, skated for the second time in Calgary Saturday morning, but reported little progress. "It's pretty much the same," said Garon, who took a cortisone shot in the ankle before the Oilers opened their three-game road trip. "It's not any better." With just the two games remaining, it's highly unlikely Garon will play again—unless the Oilers make the playoffs. AND... Joni Pitkanen suffered another groin injury late in the first period and did not return, leaving the Oilers with five defencemen for the balance of the game. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.