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Oilers edge Blackhawks 2-1

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Marc-Antoine Pouliot made an impact 10 seconds into his first shift. He used his speed to take a pass from Ryan Smyth while racing down the left side boards before cutting to the net and attempting to go high on Nikolai Khabibulin.

Several minutes later, Roloson made a big save on a tipped shot by Radim Vrbata.

With both teams on a line change, Raffi Torres connected for the game's first goal. His blast from the top of the left faceoff circle beat Khabibulin on the short side.

Petr Nedved almost made it 2-0 after taking a long breakout pass from Marc-Andre Bergeron and turning it into a partial breakaway. Nedved's shot was kicked away by Khabibulin.

With six minutes left in the first, Zack Stortini dropped the gloves with Chicago's Martin Lapointe. Stortini got a lot of punches in but the veteran Lapointe took Stortini down to the ice with a bit of a body slam type move.

Roloson came up with a huge stop with four minutes left. Petr Sykora's clearing attempt from the slot ricocheted off the skate of Peter Bondra and the Oilers netminder had to be sharp to grab the puck. On the next shift, he came across to deny Craig MacDonald from in-close.

After one period, Chicago had a 14-12 lead in shots aided by two power plays.

Smyth came within inches of scoring early in the second after Tuomo Ruutu gave the puck away to him in the slot. Smyth spun and fired on Khabibulin and the 'Hawks netminder made a nice pad save.

Midway through the second, Hemsky created a turnover deep in the Chicago end and turned that into a two-on-one with him and Horcoff. He passed it over to Horcoff whose shot was stopped by Khabibulin.

Chicago came dangerously close to tying the game late in the second. Roloson was caught off guard on a shot from the side of the net by Denis Arkhipov. Seconds later, Brent Seabrook almost tied it on a shot after pinching in. Roloson smothered the puck in desperation to get a whistle.

With a minute to play in the period and Roloson out of position, the puck inched towards the goal line and the gaping net. Steve Staios saved the day by scooping the puck and clearing it out of harm's way just before it crossed the line.

Shots on goal after two were 25-21 for Chicago.

Edmonton finally received its first power play of the night 1:55 into the third period when Blackhawks captain Adrian Aucoin ran some interference on Toby Petersen.

1:09 into that man advantage, Horcoff scored to double the team's lead to 2-0. Sykora took the initial shot and Horcoff tried to pick up the rebound. He instead pushed it over to Smyth who steered the puck into the wide open net. Horcoff got a stick on it just before it crossed the line to get credit for the goal.

After the goal, Chicago went right back to the penalty box when Bryan Smolinski took a two-minute penalty for tripping Pisani but the Blackhawks were able to kill that one off.

Despite Chicago being down a pair of goals, the Oilers continued to take the play to their opponents. Shots on goal through the first 15 minutes of the third were 10-4 for Edmonton.

In an effort to spark their team offensively, Chicago pulled netminder Nikolai Khabibulin with three minutes left.

With 1:04 to play in the third, Hemsky took a hooking penalty to give Chicago a six-on-four power play in an attempt to close the gap.

With 31.9 seconds to play, Havlat teed up a shot from the left point that beat a screened Roloson and cut Edmonton's lead in half.

Ryan Smyth put in an empty netter but time had just ran out so it was waived off.
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