Penner nets 2; Oilers top Avs at end

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)—Outplayed most of the game, the Edmonton Oilers won their season opener thanks to Dustin Penner and Mathieu Garon.

Penner scored his second goal of the game with just 5.4 seconds left to give the Oilers a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.

“It felt great to get a start like that to the season,” Penner said. “It’s something to build on for myself and for the whole team. We have to take the momentum from this win even though we didn’t have our best game.”

Garon stopped 31 shots and Shawn Horcoff also scored for the Oilers who managed only 19 shots and lost 36 of 50 faceoffs.

Penner, who had given Edmonton a 2-1 lead earlier in the third period, tipped Ethan Moreau’s shot past Colorado goalie Peter Budaj in the closing seconds.

“That’s not the way we drew it up, for sure,” Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said. “It’s nice to be able to win a game when you don’t have your best stuff. We were fortunate to win but we will take it. The reason we won the game was our goalie outplayed their goalie and when that happens you can get away with a stinker.”

Garon also acknowledged the Oilers got away with one.

“That’s going to happen in a season. Sometimes you play really well and don’t get a win and sometimes it works the other way,” he said. “Sometimes it is hard to play that first game. You can be a bit nervous. Colorado had already played a game. It was just good to get that one done and get away with a win the way we did.”

Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk had goals for the Avalanche (0-2).

The Oilers struck first during a power play seven minutes in. Ales Hemsky made a long pass at the side of the net to Horcoff, who batted the puck in before Budaj could get across.

Colorado appeared to tie the game two minutes later when Sakic came in on a 2-on-1 and took a shot. Garon made the original save but the puck went in when Sakic crashed into the net. The goal was waived off following a video review.

Sakic made up for that with a goal that counted just past the midway point of the second period. Garon made a pair of big saves before Sakic put in a big rebound while the goalie was out of position.

Colorado had a couple of prime scoring opportunities, including one shot that dribbled behind Garon and stopped inches short of the line, but the game remained 1-1 going into the third.

Edmonton regained the lead six minutes into the third as Penner’s wraparound shot from behind the net somehow got under Budaj’s pads and in.

“It seemed like they were able to get the bounces, whether it was a tip or whatever, the puck went in,” Budaj said. “I have to find a way to help the team win hockey games and I have to find a way to make that save when it counts. Even though it’s a bad bounce, I have to find a way to make that save.”

With 10 minutes to play, the Oilers were called for closing a hand on the puck in the crease—giving Colorado a penalty shot. Hejduk was picked for the attempt and he took full advantage, beating Garon stickside to make it 2-2. Hejduk is 3-for-3 on penalty shots.

Notes

Edmonton was the first team to finish out last season’s schedule and the last to begin this one, a lengthy wait of 192 days. … Edmonton hasn’t lost a home opener since Oct. 10, 1998. … Colorado won six of eight meetings with the Oilers last season. Tyler Arnason scored five of his 10 goals last season against Edmonton. … Avalanche D Adam Foote became the 40th active player to appear in 1,000 NHL games. Edmonton D Lubomir Visnovsky played in his 500th NHL game while making his Oilers debut following an offseason trade with Los Angeles.

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Three Stars

  Three Stars
M. Garon
Mathieu Garon
Oilers - G
Saves: 31
Save Pct.: .939
D. Penner
Dustin Penner
Oilers - RW
Goals: 2
Assists: 0
J. Sakic
Joe Sakic
Avalanche - C
Goals: 1
Assists: 0

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Peter Budaj LA 19 16

Scoreboard

Sunday, Oct 12