Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 1-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 17th
Game 2: Monday, January 6th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 4th
Game 4: Thursday, April 3rd

Sharks 1

(24-30-5, 59 pts)

Oilers 2

(27-23-8, 70 pts)

9:00 PM ET, March 4, 2003

Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 01
EDM 1 0 12

R. Smyth (Oilers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Kiprusoff (Sharks - G): Saves: 35, Save Pct.: .946

T. Marchant (Oilers - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Marchant's third-period strike the difference

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- It didn't take Ryan Smyth long to make an impact for the Edmonton Oilers.

Smyth scored his 20th goal of the season and then set up Todd Marchant's tiebreaker with 5:46 remaining as the Oilers ended their nine-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night over the San Jose Sharks.

"We needed this win,'' said Smyth, who injured his shoulder in a 5-4 win over Toronto on Feb. 11. "There's some teams behind us in the standings and (these were) some points that we needed.''

The win came as a huge relief for the Oilers, whose 0-5-2-2 drought began when Smyth was forced out of the lineup.

Edmonton is clinging to the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference and allowed Nashville, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Chicago back into contention during their winless run.

"Right now, I think it's something that we needed,'' said Marchant, who redirected Smyth's pass behind a helpless Miikka Kiprusoff.

"Maybe this will get us going in the right direction.''

The return of Smyth, along with goalie Tommy Salo (groin) and Mike York (broken wrist) should help the Oilers get back on track, too.

Smyth made it 1-0 at 5:43 of the first by playing his typical game. He screened Kiprusoff and tipped in a point shot from Eric Brewer.

He finished with a plus-2 rating and five shots on goal.

"I was surprised, he came out and played very well,'' Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "It's tough when you miss that much time.''

Scott Hannan scored for the Sharks, who had just 16 skaters dressed for the game.

San Jose forward Mike Ricci (back) and defenseman John Fahey (head) were in the San Jose lineup but neither could play. Captain Owen Nolan also sat out with back problems. The Sharks couldn't call players up from their AHL affiliate in Cleveland in time for the game.

"I thought the guys battled hard and I don't think it had anything to do with it,'' defenseman Kyle McLaren said.

The Oilers hadn't won since the game in Toronto. Both Smyth and captain Jason Smith were injured in that game and the Oilers' longest winless streak since 1997 followed.

The Sharks tied it at 8:15 of the second period when Hannan -- left alone in front of Salo -- easily tapped in Vincent Damphousse's pass from behind the net.

Salo made 26 saves, and Kiprusoff stopped 35 shots.

Kiprusoff needed to play well early, as the Oilers looked charged coming out in the first period, outshooting the Sharks 12-4.

"He was excellent,'' Damphousse said.

The Oilers had a two-man advantage for 1:17 early in the second. MacTavish called a timeout but the Oilers failed to extend their lead.

Hannan tied it minutes later.

Game notes

Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall was at Skyreach Centre to present the February Molson Cup Award to Salo. ... Members of the group that recently set a world record for the longest hockey game ever played were also on hand. Thirty-six skaters and four goalies played for 80 consecutive hours last month. ... Smyth's goal was his 20th of the season, the fifth time in his career he reached that mark.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press