DENVER – Chris Pronger scored his first goal for Edmonton to help Oilers goalie Mike Morrison win his first career start, a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Pronger, the star defenseman who was traded away by St. Louis after spending nine seasons with the Blues, struggled in his new setting, held to nine assists and no goals over the first 19 games for Edmonton.

He broke through against David Aebischer after taking a pass from Ales Hemsky at the top of the circle just as a 5-on-3 power play was ending at 14:13 of the second period to make it 3-2.

In the third, Raffi Torres took a fabulous pass from Hemsky, who beat falling defenseman Patrice Brisebois, and Torres slammed it past Aebischer for the insurance goal. A few minutes later, Marty Reasoner made it 5-2, capping a successful end to a seven-game road trip for the Oilers and sending Avalanche fans heading to the exits.

The Oilers, who went on a seven-game losing streak earlier in the season that prompted coach Craig MacTavish to call their effort in one game a “stand-alone product for ineptitude” moved back above .500, to 10-9-1.

Morrison was recently called up from minor league Greenville to take the spot of the injured Ty Conklin. In this, his first start, he made 31 saves and staved off a 65-second 5-on-3 opportunity by Colorado in the second period.

The Avs fell behind by multiple goals early for the second straight game. On Saturday against Calgary, they trailed 4-0 en route to a 5-3 loss. In this one, they gave up two goals over the first 101/2 minutes.

Rob Blake scored late in the first and Ian Laperriere tied it midway through the second, but Colorado never could take the lead. Aebischer, chased from the Calgary game, stayed in for the entirety of this one. He made 17 saves and was hurt by some porous defense in front of him.

Ryan Smyth opened the scoring with an uncontested shot placed perfectly over Aebischer’s left shoulder from just outside the crease. Edmonton’s second goal came on what looked more like a centering pass than a shot by Jarret Stoll. It hit Ethan Moreau, who was part of some heavy traffic in front of the net, and went in.

Still, Pronger’s go-ahead goal had to be the highlight for the Oilers. Much was expected of the highly regarded defenseman, but both he and Edmonton’s other big offseason pickup, Michael Peca, have struggled.

Both now have one goal on the season. Pronger celebrated his with a big fist pump and got heartier-than-usual congrats from his teammates, who now find themselves one point ahead of Colorado in the Northwest Division.

Notes: Avalanche F Pierre Turgeon missed the game with a sore hip. … The Oilers now go home for three straight games, starting Thursday against Detroit.

AP-ES-11-14-05 2330EST

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