Oilers stop Avalanche


EDMONTON, Alberta – Jarret Stoll scored a short-handed, tiebreaking goal in the third period to help the Edmonton Oilers clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Jaroslav Spacek added an empty-netter in the final second, and Rem Murray and Raffi Torres also scored as Edmonton won its second striaght to close the regular season. The Oilers open the playoffs at Detroit this weekend.

Edmonton’s win also prevented seventh-seeded Colorado from moving into sixth.

Joe Sakic and Patrice Brisebois scored for the Avalanche, who dropped three straight games and four of their last five. Colorado will face Dallas in the first round of the postseason.

Torres scored his first goal in 11 games less than a minute into the third period, but Brisebois tied the game 2-2 with a redirect after being left alone in the slot.

Stoll’s fourth game-winning goal came off Jose Theodore’s giveaway at 14:46.

The Oilers, having secured a playoff berth after Thursday’s 2-1 win over Anaheim, sat seven regulars – including center Shawn Horcoff, defenseman Chris Pronger, goals leader Ryan Smyth, Ethan Moreau and goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had started 19 straight games.

Ty Conklin made 15 saves for Edmonton in his first action since March 7.

Theodore took his third straight loss despite 33 saves in his fifth straight start.

Murray, a 10-season NHL veteran and Oilers free agent pickup March 5, scored his first goal since Dec. 2003 through traffic at the end of an opening period that didn’t see a whistle for the first 6 minutes.

The Avalanche had five shots on goal in the first period. Sakic moved into 17th place in the NHL’s career goals list with his 574th into an open net in the second period after Andrew Brunette dangled to pull Conklin far out of the goal.

Edmonton finished the regular season 41-28-13, including 20-15-6 at home.

Notes: Oilers D Igor Ulanov was in the starting lineup for the first time in 22 games dating back to March 1. … The Oilers finished the regular season with five players with at least 20 goals – Smyth (36), Torres (27), Sergei Samsonov (23), Horcoff (22), and Stoll (22).

AP-ES-04-17-06 2350EDT