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Blues Take Oilers In OT

Stay-at-home defenseman Jeff Finley certainly knows how to score the big goals.

Finley got the game-winner in Game 6 of the St. Louis Blues' first-round playoff series against Phoenix last May and on Thursday night he scored another rare goal at 19 seconds of overtime for a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

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  • Finley's first goal of the season matched his total from last season, when he totaled one goal in 32 games for the Blues and New York Rangers. He has nine goals in 375 career games.

    "I don't score very often, but they're always fun especially the game-winners," Finley said. "I just saw a chance to jump in the play."

    The new 4-on-4 overtime format gives players like Finley a chance to be the hero because teams already are guaranteed one point.

    "You can go for it," Finley said. "You've got to go for it."

    Blues coach Joel Quenneville said he loves the new format "so far."

    Finley scored from the right side of the net, catching Oilers goalie Tommy Salo off-guard, on a cross-ice pass from Pierre Turgeon. Pavol Demitra also assisted on the play.

    "It was a bang-bang play," Salo said. "I was moving and I don't know if I touched it or not. It just happened so quick."

    The Oilers got caught in a bit of a breakdown on the play.

    "They choreographed it perfectly," Oilers coach Kevin Lowe said. "Everybody was in-between on that play. I'm not going to point the finger at anybody, but there's four guys out there and thehave to be responsible for their man."

    The Oilers' philosophy in overtime was nothing like the Blues'.

    "We wanted to play a little cautious," center Doug Weight said. "Obviously, that didn't work out. We're going to take the point."

    Craig Conroy and Michal Handzus also scored for the Blues, who have won the first three games of a four-game homestand. The Blues are 5-0 against Canadian teams and 0-3 against United States teams.

    The Oilers have played four overtime games and have two losses and two ties.

    Salo, playing in goal for the second straight night, had a strong game with 34 saves. He had 22 stops Wednesday in a 2-1 loss at Dallas.

    Weight and Janne Niinimaa gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead in the first period.

    Handzus had tied it at 1:31 of the second period when he knocked in the rebound of his own shot over a prone Salo. Handzus had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory at Edmonton on Oct. 9 and has five goals already after totaling four in 66 games his rookie season.

    "He's showing more offensive instincts than he demonstrated last year," Quenneville said. "We like that progress because we know defensively we can count on him."

    The Blues had a 16-9 advantage in shots in the first period, but trailed 2-1. Weight scored on a 2-on-1 at 8:43 and Niinimaa got his first of the season shorthanded at 15:04 as the Blues' power play was outshot 3-1.

    Conroy cut the St. Louis deficit to one with a backhander, his second overall and second in two games, at 16:55.

    The Blues were without Derek King, picked up on Wednesday from Toronto. King arrived in St. Louis about three hours before game time due to immigration difficulties and watched the game from the press box.

    During the first period a banner commemorating the Arena, the Blues' home for 27 seasons ending in 1994, was unveiled. The Arena was demolished earlier this year.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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