"We came out of the [All-Star] break and played really well,
moved the puck well and did a lot of things well," said Oilers
coach Craig MacTavish. "A brawl like that always brings a team
"I'm sure it'll have the same effect on Atlanta. Everybody's
leaving the rink feeling good about themselves tonight."
Before the brawl began with 1:49 remaining, Edmonton played one
of its best games in recent memory.
The Thrashers' frustration boiled over when the melee erupted in
the neutral zone near the Atlanta bench. Everyone on the ice paired
up, including goaltenders Ty Conklin and Pasi Nurminen.<
"It's always fun," said Nurminen, sporting a swollen upper
lip. "Just give a couple punches, take a couple punches, still
Said Edmonton's Conklin: "It's not something I do very often,
and there's reasons for that. It was just a lot of guys out there
sticking up for each other."
Things got bizarre when Serge Aubin tossed Oilers rookie Mike Bishai into the Atlanta bench. Bishai got to his feet and continued to trade punches with Aubin, while stunned Thrashers looked on unsure what to do.
"You never like it when you're in the other team's bench, you
know," said Bishai. "I was concerned, but my main concern was the
guy in front of me. I think I got a couple pokes with some
The feisty center, playing just his fifth NHL game, received
congratulations from his coach.
"We had a bad angle of the Bishai incident, but we saw it on
replay and it was pretty impressive," MacTavish said. "As many
years as I've been in the game, I've never seen a guy fighting
standing up in the opposition's bench.
"That's like diving into somebody else's foxhole."
All 12 players on the ice received fighting majors, and all but
two received game misconducts. Conklin and Nurminen also got minors
for leaving the crease. The brawl resulted in 164 of the game's 198
Atlanta finished with six skaters because it had no backup
goalie. Starter Byron Dafoe left after the first period with a
Torres scored his team-high 17th of the season in the first
period, then set up Jarret Stoll for the Oilers' fourth goal.<
Horcoff beat Nurminen with a low shot early in the third period
after receiving a pretty pass from Ryan Smyth.
Georges Laraque also scored, and Smyth picked up two assists
for the Oilers, who have won four of five.
Aubin scored the lone goal for the slumping Thrashers, who have
lost six in a row and are winless in 10.
"The main point is we lost the game," said Atlanta's Ivan Majesky, one of the players ejected for the brawl. "We have to find a way to try and win a game. It's so important. What happened, that's part of the game sometimes."
The Oilers played motivated hockey from the drop of the puck.
Dafoe was making just his 17th appearance this season and made a
couple stops with the Oilers buzzing in the first five minutes,
including a pad save on Laraque.
Moments later, he robbed Jason Chimera on a quick shot from in
Edmonton solved Dafoe on a lucky play when Torres scored.
Defenseman Eric Brewer let a high point shot go that was initially
deflected by Radek Dvorak and then hit Torres in the upper body,
bouncing in behind Dafoe.
The Oilers quickly made it 2-0 on a beautiful give-and-go
between Laraque and Smyth.
Atlanta got its goal early in the second period as Aubin
deposited the rebound of Jeff Cowan's shot behind Conklin.
Conklin stopped 24 shots in his third consecutive start
ahead of Salo, who has recently fallen out of favor with MacTavish.
... Laraque's goal came during a promotion known as the "Big Mac
minute," meaning everyone in attendance is entitled to a free Big
Mac. The game was a sellout, with 16,839 hungry patrons in the
crowd. ... All three of Laraque's goals this year have come in the
past five games.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Rexall Place Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Referees: Dave Jackson, Michael McGeough Linesmen: Lyle Seitz, Mark Wheler
Attendance: 16,839 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Raffi Torres (17)
Assists: Radek Dvorak, Eric Brewer
Georges Laraque (3)
Assists: Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff
Serge Aubin (8)
Assists: Jeff Cowan, Frantisek Kaberle