Conklin shines as Red Wings blank Oilers

DETROIT (Ticker) — The Detroit Red Wings are beginning to
remind the hockey world why they are the defending Stanley Cup

Ty Conklin made 21 saves and defenseman Niklas Kronwall recorded
a power-play goal and an assist as the Red Wings skated to a 4-0
victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

“We’ve been making a pretty big push to be better in our end,”
Conklin said. “We’ve been winning games, but we’ve given up a
lot of goals. We take a lot of pride in the number of goals and
the chances we give up. Looks like we’re on the right track.”

Starting in place of Chris Osgood for the second straight game,
Conklin turned aside nine shots in the first period, five in the
second and seven in the third en route to notching his first
shutout of the season and fifth career.

“It’s nice to get that first (shutout) here to get rid of the
butterflies early,” Conklin said. “I had to make a couple of
tough saves on a 5-on-3, but for the most part we were solid in
our end. That’s as good as we’ve been all year.”

Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler and Johan Franzen also tallied
and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists for the Red Wings, who
have won three straight games and five of six.

During their recent hot stretch, the Red Wings’ lone blemish
came against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 7-6 overtime loss on
last Tuesday. In that contest, they squandered a three-goal
lead in the third period and fizzled against the team they
thwarted in the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

After that loss, the team made its displeasure heard, hinting
that such play will result in disappointment at the end of the
season. Since then, Detroit has outscored its opponents, 11-5,
in the successful three-game span.

“I thought we played well tonight,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock
said. “We didn’t give up much. We looked good on special
teams. We talked about (tightening up defensively) but that’s
just talk. You have to do it. We were disappointed with our
third period last week.

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“Tonight was much better. We didn’t have many turnovers. You
want to make plays, but if they’re not there, you can’t force

Kronwall extended his points streak to four games after
accepting a feed from Zetterberg and firing a hard wrister past
Dwayne Roloson from the slot 6:11 into the first with the man

“If you drew up what we didn’t want to do to start, that’s what
we did,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.

Kronwall also has five assists over the past four games,
including three in the last two. He had just six assists in 11
October games.

“It’s sad that when we’re down just 1-0 after the first period,”
Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. “We should be able to build
off of that. The first intermission, that’s when we should have
tightened things up.”

Roloson finished with 37 saves, but was exposed again three
minutes into the second after defenseman Brett Lebda fed a
cross-crease pass to Samuelsson, who was sitting on the

“The difference was the second period,” MacTavish said. “We
have five or six red zone chances where it’s just us and the
goalie and we don’t hit the net. And then, Samuelsson scores
for them to make it 2-0 and then they get another goal and the
game was over.”

Hudler increased Detroit’s lead to 3-0 with a slap shot from the
right faceoff circle on a 3-on-2 rush with 5:42 left in the
session, and Franzen capped the scoring with a backhander off a
botched clearing attempt by Roloson midway through the third.

“I thought this was one of our best games,” Franzen said. “It
was a big game for us, before we go out on the road again.”

Edmonton has dropped three straight and its offensive slumber
has been a major factor in its recent play. The Oilers have
scored just nine times in the last five contests.

Oilers right wing Fernando Pisani left in the third with a
broken ankle suffered after crashing awkwardly into the boards
trying to take possession of a loose puck.

“Broken ankle,” MacTavish said. “Fernando’s done for a while.”