Rookie can't believe his feat





7:30 p.m.

Media: RSW, 630 CHED

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DENVER - Scoring three straight overtime goals, something nobody else in NHL regular-season history has done, has its perks.

"I carried Cogs into the restaurant last night (Tuesday)," joked Edmonton Oilers centre Jarret Stoll, as rookie Andrew Cogliano looked on sheepishly before the team left for Denver on Wednesday.

Maybe Cogliano should be accorded his own room on the road now, too, leaving his usual roomie Sam Gagner to stay with someone else. Maybe he deserves a suite, with one of those elevator keys that only works on the special hotel floors.

"Yeah, to heck with the 10 years and 600 NHL games," said Stoll, referring to the usual standard for which players are given their own rooms.

Stoll was still wearing the look of amazement Wednesday at Cogliano's hat trick of game-winning goals in extra time -- OT winners against Columbus last Friday, Chicago on Sunday, and St. Louis on Tuesday.

Up to Game 1,056, through Tuesday night, there had been 102 NHL games decided this season in the five-minute overtime period, but only four NHLers -- Cogliano, Patrik Elias (New Jersey), Jarome Iginla (Calgary) and Mike Green (Washington) -- have scored three game winners. Only Cogliano has done it on three consecutive opportunities.

There have been past heroes: Sudden Death Mel Hill, meet Sudden Death Andrew Cogliano.

OK, Hill's goals for the Boston Bruins were in the playoffs -- the 1939 semifinals against the New York Rangers -- which makes them more dramatic, but then again, Hill's weren't in consecutive games.

Overtime in the NHL's regular season was instituted in 1983-84. Ace statistician Bob Waterman at the Elias Sports Bureau says there have been 4,924 overtime games since then. Cogliano's achievement stands alone through all those years.

This year, three players -- Miroslav Satan, Johan Franzen and Scott Hartnell -- have scored game winners in three consecutive games, but not exclusively in overtime. The record for winners in regulation coupled with overtime in the modern era is four straight games, set by Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson last season. The all-time record is five straight games, set by Newsy Lalonde in 1921.

Cogliano, Ryan Malone and fellow Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby are now equals in the record books for three overtime goals as rookies. For rookies or veterans, the most overtime goals in a season is four -- the most recent coming from Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks last season.

"I don't know what to say anymore. I've been getting a lot of phone calls," said Cogliano, who can't recall even one overtime winner he scored in his two years at the University of Michigan before coming to camp last fall.

"To see the look on his face after it went in (against the Blues), the whole thing is pretty surreal," said Gagner.

"It's quite a story, good for him," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. "Add that to the list of wild and wacky things that you see over the years that really defy all odds or any explanation. That's why people play the lottery. Sometimes it happens."

Give credit to MacTavish for having the smarts to put Cogliano on the ice in the last few seconds so he could take Gagner's pass and get it past Manny Legace on Tuesday against St. Louis.

Gagner beat rookie Erik Johnson into the corner and also had a step on defenceman Barret Jackman going to the net. The puck, as fate would have it, didn't lay flat on Cogliano's stick, which helped him get it up and over Legace, who was down to cover the bottom of the net. That's just one more good break for the youngster.

"Yeah, it was on its side. I just chipped it and it went over him," said Cogliano. "I also hit Jackman's stick on my follow-through."

On the season, the Oilers are 4-2 in the five-minute overtime sessions and 14-3 in the shootouts, so they've been living dangerously all season long. That's 23 out of their 70 games going past regulation, or 32.8 per cent. After Tuesday night, there had been 130 shootout games, and the Oilers had been involved in 17.7 per cent of them.

"That's good and bad," said MacTavish, fully aware that the wins are fine, but winning in regulation so the other team gets no points is a far better idea.

"I still feel we have to play better to do what we need to do to get in.

When you're winning, you're getting the lesson but not paying much of a price for it. Hopefully we're learning from the mistakes we're making and we're not paying the ultimate price."

It could have been a dark night for the Oilers, blowing a three-goal lead in the first period.

"If we'd lost that, that would have put the nail in the (playoff) coffin," said Cogliano. "If we hadn't played the third period and OT well after a brutal second period ... that could have been the end for us."

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