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Conklin earns shutout in 5-0 whitewash

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
It didn't take the Oilers long to net the game's first goal. After Ryan Smyth stripped Tyler Arnason of the puck and dished it to Hemsky, the crafty Oilers forward had enough patience in front of Chicago's goal to outwait Anton Babchuk before dishing it to Shawn Horcoff who scored with the easy tap-in.

Rookie Matt Greene got involved physically early in the contest. Nine minutes in, he dropped the gloves with Chicago's Todd Simpson. Simpson got the better of Greene early, but the Oilers rearguard recovered to salvage a stalemate.

Several minutes later, Duncan Keith did a great job breaking up the play on an Oilers two-on-one with Hemsky and Smyth. Keith laid his stick flat on the ice to tip a Hemsky pass attempt over to Smyth.

Conklin was sharp in the early going, making his first start since last Wednesday vs. Minnesota. His best save of the first was getting a glove down to turn away a Patrick Sharp backhand attempt that went along the ice.

Some good hustle and forechecking by Smyth while shorthanded helped draw a penalty for the Oilers. Smyth stripped Radim Vrbata of the puck and broke in on Anderson. He couldn't get a clean scoring opportunity with Vrbata hooking him from behind, but the sequence spelled the end of Chicago's power play.

On the ensuing four-on-four situation, Anderson made an spectacular save sliding across to stop Hemsky as he broke in on a two-on-none with Horcoff.

Shots on goal were even at 9-9 although Chicago had an 8-3 edge until there were about seven minutes left in the period.

Some hard work down low five minutes into the second period led to Edmonton's second goal of the game. Ethan Moreau picked up the puck in the corner and attempted a wraparound on the Chicago goaltender. Fernando Pisani was standing in front and put home the rebound for the goal.

Pisani potted his second of the net several minutes later just as a Blackhawks penalty expired. Michael Peca, Moreau and Pisani worked a nice tic-tac-toe play that ended with Peca finding Pisani in front where he one-timed it top corner to make it 3-0 Oilers.

With Duncan Keith serving a penalty, Edmonton scored once again to move ahead 4-0. Marc-Andre Bergeron floated a shot in from the point that Anderson had trouble handling. Ryan Smyth took advantage by banging home the rebound from the top of the crease.

Edmonton took a commanding 4-0 lead into the second intermission. They were also outshooting the Blackhawks 20-15 two-thirds into the game.

With Edmonton holding a four-goal lead, Jani Rita saw some power play time in the third period along with Marty Reasoner and Todd Harvey. Rita almost set up Reasoner in front with a neat backhand pass but the puck hopped over his stick.

Five minutes into the period, Kyle Calder had the puck jump his stick on a two-on-one as frustration continued to mount for the Blackhawks. Even when they did gain an opportunity, Conklin stood tall and denied the Chicago squad. After stripping Rita of the puck, Pavel Vorobiev wristed one from the right faceoff circle that the Oilers goaltender had no trouble handling.

Midway through the period, Conklin made a pair of brilliant saves to keep Chicago off the scoresheet. He slid across to deny Duncan Keith and was able to stand up to block Keith's rebound attempt shortly after.

Conklin continued to deny Blackhawks shooters in the final frame. With 2:40 left he slid across to stop Jim Dowd's one-time attempt on a two-on-one.

Not to be outdone, 30 seconds later, Craig Anderson made a nice glove grab on Jarret Stoll.

On the next shift, Jani Rita was rewarded for his hard work all evening long as he picked up the puck at the top of the crease and wristed it top corner to make it a 5-0 game.

NOTES: For the second time in three meetings this season, Craig Anderson started for Chicago against Edmonton. Anderson's last win was back on November 19 against the Oilers... Jani Rita and Matt Greene drew back into the lineup for the Oilers. Brad Winchester and Cory Cross were healthy scratches as a result... Chicago's scratches in addition to the three players on I.R. were Jaroslav Spacek (suspension), Michael Holmqvist and Andy Hilbert... Jarret Stoll's career-high scoring streak of six consecutive games (3g, 7a, 10pts) came to an end...
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