Staios scored the eventual winning goal early in third period Saturday night, helping the Oilers beat the Canucks 3-2 and salvage a win in the three-game series between the teams.
After losing to Vancouver in regulation on Tuesday and in a shootout on Thursday, Edmonton finished the set tied with the Canucks for seventh place in the Western Conference.
“That was as big as they get at this time of the year,” Staios said. “We knew we needed it. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on it, but we certainly knew this was a huge game for us.”
“Anytime you give up a lead in a game, the next one seems like every play is life or death,” said Staios, who pinched in to convert a rebound of Rem Murray’s attempted wraparound at 2:07 of the third, giving the Oilers a 3-1 lead.
Brendan Morrison closed the gap 2 minutes later, stopping teammate Markus Naslund’s slap shot just before it reached Dwayne Roloson, then tucking a backhand deke past the surprised goaltender, who went down to stop the first drive.
Unlike Thursday, the Oilers responded by tightening up. They held the Canucks without a shot for the next 10 minutes.
“We all knew how important it was for us,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “There’s so much parity between the two teams that any emotional edge is a considerable advantage and a lot of times the deciding factor. They played hard, too, but we knew we needed to win and we did as good a job as we’ve done all year long in the third period defending the lead.”
When Vancouver finally added some pressure, Roloson responded with his biggest save since being acquired from Minnesota on March 7. He robbed Naslund from point-blank range with 2:44 left.
“He made a great move and I was just able to stay with him,” said Roloson, who finished with 23 saves to level his Oilers record at 3-3-3. “It made up for the easy one I let in the other night.”
Vancouver and Edmonton both lead ninth-place Los Angeles by one point, with the San Jose Sharks another point back in 10th. They have 13 games remaining.
“It’s unfortunate, we could have put them behind us a little bit,” Naslund said of the Oilers. “We played a strong game. We just didn’t get the breaks when we needed them.”
Smyth opened the scoring with a short-handed goal midway through the first period after Eric Weinrich’s turnover just inside the Edmonton blue line created a 2-on-1 break the other way. Shawn Horcoff fed the puck to Smyth, who one-timed the cross-ice pass beyond the outstretched glove of Alex Auld.
Kesler tied it 22 seconds into the second period, knocking his own rebound past Roloson, but Samsonov restored the Oilers lead on a power play midway through the period. He pounced on a rebound as Auld was reaching to smother the puck with his glove, and snapped in his 20th goal of the season before Auld, who finished with 26 saves, could recover.
Oilers G Ty Conklin caught an afternoon flight to Denver, where he is expected to start against Colorado on Sunday. It will be the first time in 10 games since coming to Edmonton that Roloson won’t start. … Canucks RW Anson Carter played in his 600th NHL game. … Referees Paul Devorski and Marc Joannette worked all three games in this week’s series. … Smyth’s goal was his first in five games. … Kesler, playing between Naslund and Bertuzzi since the third period Thursday, has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.