DENVER - Mathieu Garon didn't take long to get rid of the rust.
The Edmonton goalie settled in late in the second and was sensational the rest of the way, finishing with 37 saves in the Oilers' 3-2 win over Colorado on Friday night.
The little-used Garon was in net to spell Dwayne Roloson, who had played the night before. Garon was starting for just the second time in the last 15 games.
''Sometimes it's hard when you don't play much,'' Garon said. ''But surely I wanted to get a good start tonight and as the game went on I started to feel better.''
He saved his best for late, stonewalling Ryan Smyth on a breakaway just before the end of the second period. Garon kicked out his leg and Smyth shot the puck right into his pads.
''Just trying to make the save there,'' Garon said.
Shawn Horcoff broke a tie with 6:35 left, shooting the puck into the corner of the net with Avalanche goalie Andrew Raycroft sprawled out on the ice.
''I knew he was in a little bit of a vulnerable position, just tried to shoot it quick,'' said Horcoff, who scored his first goal in 10 games.
Raycroft blamed himself for the goal, failing to clear the puck out of the zone before Horcoff's goal.
''I went out to play it and didn't play it properly and it's in the back of the net. It cost us,'' said Raycroft, who has lost two straight starts after reeling off seven wins in a row. ''Stupid play.''
This wasn't how the Avalanche envisioned kicking off their eight-game home stand, the second-longest in franchise history.
Not against a division rival. Not with the Oilers and Avalanche battling for precious points.
''It's a tough one,'' Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. ''You know all of our games the rest of the way are going to be like this - where you're going to have to find a way, when the game's on the line, to make the plays to get the win.''
Tom Gilbert and Steve Staios also scored to help the Oilers snap a five-game losing streak at Pepsi Center, and hand the Avalanche their third straight loss.
Tyler Arnason and T.J. Hensick scored for Colorado.
Gilbert ended a 24-game goal drought, scoring on a power play with 36.5 seconds remaining in the opening period to give the Oilers a 2-1 advantage.
His first goal in nearly two months occurred when he corralled a loose puck in front of the net, then sent it into the upper corner past Raycroft laying on the ground and Scott Hannan, who was crouching just outside the net to try to prevent the goal.
Gilbert was originally picked by Colorado in the 2002 draft, before being traded to Edmonton two years later.
''Gilby's great,'' Horcoff said. ''When he's on top of his game, he moves the puck so well. He makes great reads under pressure. He shows a lot of good poise.''
Arnason tied it at one late in the first period, redirecting a shot just out of Garon's reach.
Staios scored the first goal, blasting in a shot from just inside the blue-line that trickled by Raycroft 2:10 into the game. It's the second straight contest the Avalanche have allowed a goal in the opening minutes, a trend the Avalanche are trying to fix.
''We came out a bit slow and got behind there,'' John-Michael Liles said. ''Tough loss.''
For Garon, it was just a matter of settling into the game. Once he found his groove midway through the second period, he was grand.
''He was right on the puck, played great,'' Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. ''He made a couple of huge saves.''
Notes: The Avalanche played their 26th one-goal game of the season, the most in the league this season. They're 16-9-1 in one-goal games. ... Colorado and Edmonton both lost the night before. The Oilers are 6-5 in the second game of back-to-back contests, while the Avalanche are 1-3-1. ... Horcoff has 11 goals this season. ... Liles had his first career fighting major.