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Fleury Scores In Debut & Loss


Acquired to bring energy and scoring to the Colorado offense, Theo Fleury provided that and more in his Avalanche debut. It just came a bit late.

Boris Mironov and Rem Murray scored power-play goals only 45 seconds apart early in the third period, and the Edmonton Oilers withstood a Fleury-inspired flurry to beat Colorado 4-3 Monday night.

Fleury, the high-scoring winger who was traded to the Avalanche from Calgary on Sunday, sparked the comeback with Colorado's first goal at 6:57 of the final period, cutting the deficit to 4-1.

In the last furious 13 minutes, Valeri Kamensky and Aaron Miller also scored, but Oilers goalie Bob Essensa, brilliant through the first two periods, hung on.

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  • "The reason they got me here is to provide a spark and a lift for the team when they need it," Fleury said. "I've done it my whole career. It's great to be surrounded by great people and not having to be at your best on every single shift."

    Essensa finished with 47 saves and Patrick Roy had 25.

    Fleury said Essensa "was outstanding and made a lot of great saves when it was 1-0, 2-0 and then late in the game."

    Oilers coach Ron Low agreed.

    "The difference in the game was us getting two power-play goals and them not getting any, plus Bobby Essensa being as good as I've ever seen a goaltender for ouhockey club," Low said.

    Colorado's 50 shots on goal was a season high.

    "I thought we kept them pretty much at bay for the first 40 minutes," Essensa said. "With 15 minutes to go, we thought we were in pretty good shape, but you can't make mistakes against those guys. They can swarm with the best of them, and you can see why they're going to be in the playoffs."

    The Oilers also appear playoff-bound with the seventh-best point total in the Western Conference, but they still trail division-leading Colorado by 11 points.

    "With the acquisition of Theo, I'm sure they were charged up in the locker room," Essensa said. "To come in here and get two points is huge for us."

    Oilers winger Bill Guerin said it "looks like he (Fleury) has been here all along. Putting him on this team with a lot of talent and firepower is pretty scary."

    Adam Deadmarsh was assessed a four-minute penalty for high-sticking, and Adam Foote's subsequent cross-checking penalty gave Edmonton a 5-on-3 advantage early in the third period.

    Mironov cashed in 12 seconds later, scoring from the left circle against a screened Roy at 47 seconds.

    With a 5-on-4 advantage, the Oilers went ahead 4-0 at 1:32 when Murray punched in a rebound.

    Fleury, who played for the first two periods with the line of Joe Sakic and Kamensky, switched to a Sakic-Peter Forsberg line, and the Avs came alive.

    "We had a little bit of fun out there with those two guys," Fleury said. "We got some things done in the third period."

    Fleury chipped in a shot from just inside the right circle for his 31st goal, and Kamensky followed with a rebound goal at 9:10.

    Miller scored from the slot on a pass from Sakic at 14:31.

    Edmonton's Josef Beranek had a fluke goal for the only score in the first period.

    After Colorado's Sandis Ozolinsh lost the puck, Beranek shot from the left circle. The puck fluttered in the air and appeared to nestle in Roy's glove, only to trickle out and fall into the goal at 2:59. Roy flipped his stick in frustration.

    Fleury drew a loud cheer when he took the ice for the first time, and the crowd seemed to buzz with anticipation whenever he took a shift.

    Less than a minute into the second period, the Oilers took a 2-0 lead on Guerin's 24th goal. After a faceoff in the Edmonton end sent the puck back down the ice, Guerin outraced the Avalanche and scored on a breakaway at 42 seconds.

    The Avalanche outshot the Oilers 17-8 in the period, but Essensa was untouchable. He had four saves off Fleury in the period, including on on a 3-on-1 rush.

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