EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Oilers coach Craig MacTavish knew it
would be tough for his players to face former teammate Mike Comrie.
He was impressed with the way his Edmonton club overcame its
emotions well enough to beat Comrie and the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4
Tuesday night in overtime.
"I think everybody was a little overwhelmed by the whole
situation," MacTavish said. "It's a tough situation. The hockey
mentality is always to rally around a teammate. He hasn't been out
of here that long, so I think there was some empathy for him and
the situation he was going through from our team.
"That's not necessarily a bad thing as long as you get the win.
I thought we did what we had to against him."
Ryan Smyth had three points, including the winning goal 2:26
Smyth, who also scored on a power-play goal early in the second
period, won a faceoff and chipped the puck forward before banging
it behind Brian Boucher.
"I got a lucky break off the draw," Smyth said. "It went off
a skate and came back to me, I kicked it up and I just found a
"We couldn't afford a tie," Laraque said.
The game was Comrie's first in Edmonton since the Oilers'
six-game playoff loss to Dallas last spring. Comrie held out in a
contract dispute, forcing a midseason trade to Philadelphia.
Last month, the Flyers dealt him to Phoenix.
He did little against his former club other than draw the ire of
fans, who booed him during the pregame warmup and continued the
serenade throughout the night.
"It was different," Comrie said. "I've had some great
memories here. I only had a short few years, but I loved playing
here and it's exciting to play here even when you get the odd
The sellout crowd was pleased when Oilers forward Jarret Stoll
laid a hit on Comrie near the boards in the opening period.
"When you're in competition like the National Hockey League,
you're fighting for every inch," Comrie said of Stoll, a former
Western Hockey League teammate. "Sometimes, you have to battle
with your friends. I've got a lot of great friends on that team and
I respect every one of them.
"Both teams play hard and that's all you can expect."
It almost looked like Comrie's new team would pull out a
victory. Langkow tied it 4-4 with 1:16 remaining in regulation
after Staios had given the Oilers a lead earlier in the period.
With Tommy Salo down, Langkow lifted a shot behind the
goaltender following a scramble around the net.
Gratton set up Nash's goal in the second period, then tied the
game 2-2 on a terrific effort. He rushed up the middle of the ice
and had his first attempt turned away before gathering his rebound
and beating Salo.
"It's very disappointing," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said.
"You feel you have an opportunity. We score a late goal to get
maybe two points, instead we give one up in overtime.
"The effort was better. We couldn't capitalize on some of our
Phoenix jumped to a quick 1-0 lead just 1:24 into the game when
Sillinger got a second chance in front of the Oilers net and lifted
a shot past Salo, who was sprawled on the ice.
Edmonton responded on Laraque's goal before Smith and Smyth made
Salo stopped 29 shots for his 16th win.
Nash caught Laraque with his head down and delivered a
crushing check on the Oilers enforcer early in the third period.
Laraque outweighs Nash by about 50 pounds. ... Phoenix has allowed
the most goals in the Western Conference, 200. ... Smyth won the
Molson Cup for February for getting the most three-star votes
throughout the month. ... One fan held up an Edmonton jersey with
Comrie's name but a dollar sign on the back instead of the No. 89.