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Nobody does it better than Wayne Gretzky - or...

By TOM SHAND

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Nobody does it better than Wayne Gretzky - or gets away with it more often.

The Edmonton superstar turned the boos of a Wednesday night loss to cheers Friday night in lifting the Oilers to a 7-6 victory over the New Jersey Devils with a controversial overtime goal.

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Gretzky stole the puck from Doug Sulliman inside the Devils blue line and whipped a shot past Craig Billington 1:29 into the extra period.

There was no debate the puck went in the net, but both Billington and Devils' head coach Doug Carpenter were enraged by the way Gretzky stole the puck.

'In my opinion, it was a hook,' said Billington. 'But we're the New Jersey Devils and they're the Oilers and he's Wayne Gretzky. It's been that way (with officials) the past seven or eight games for us. It seems we're the New Jersey Devils, so it doesn't matter.'

Carpenter concurred.

'I say they scored the winning goal on a penalty,' the coach said.

Oddly enough, Oilers head coach Glen Sather also expressed little faith in the judgment of referee Mike Noeth.

Asked about the winning goal, Sather evasively commented, 'He (Noeth) didn't call anything the whole third period. He doesn't know what's going on. I've never seen a guy with tunnel vision like he has.'

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Gretzky, who finished with a goal and three assists to extend his consecutive points streak to 38 games, said the winning goal was clean, but was not pleased with his team's performance.

The Oilers blew a 3-0 first-period lead and trailed 6-4 in the third before rallying.

Mark Messier spearheaded the comeback with two third-period goals, then Mike Krushelnyski connected with 5:39 left in regulation time to enable the Oilers to snap a two-game losing streak that had left the hometown fans in an ugly mood, even toward their resident superstar.

Marty McSorley, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson scored for the Oilers in the first period. Responding for New Jersey in the second period were Joe Cirella, Rich Preston, Peter McNab and Pat Verbeek. Mel Bridgman and Kirk Muller added third-period goals to give the Devils two two-goal leads.

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