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Jackets goalie Norrena earns shutout as home losses pile up for Oilers

Fredrik Norrena recorded his first career NHL shutout and Dan Fritsche had a goal and a pair of assists as Columbus stunned the Edmonton 4-0.

It was the third loss in a row for the Oilers, all of them at home. Edmonton was looking to rebound from a 7-3 thrashing at the hands of Colorado on Thursday, as well as an emotional 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday in Chris Pronger's return to Rexall Place.

Alexander Svitov, Gilbert Brule and Anson Carter also scored for Columbus.

Columbus snapped a two game losing skid to improve to 7-16-2, while the Oilers slipped to 13-10-2.

There was even more bad news for the Oilers as their second leading scorer Ryan Smyth left the game early in the first with a fractured right thumb after being clipped by Rostislav Klesla and did not return.

Sporting a cast after the game, Smyth said he would be out indefinitely although he wasn't expected to need surgery.

"I couldn't move my thumb," he said. "I had no movement at all. I thought maybe it was dislocated or something. I hated to leave. You want to be out there contributing."

Edmonton lost third leading scorer Ales Hemsky to a shoulder injury two games earlier against Anaheim.

"Every team is going to go through situations like this and you have to make sure that you can survive them," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It is a test of the mettle of our team right

now collectively."

How the Oilers respond to adversity right now could affect the whole season.

"We have to turn it around and fight through these injuries," Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff said. "In a lot of ways this could be a real turning point in the season for us. We can either win some games with these guys out which could give us a big, positive boost. Or we could lose a lot of them and be in a battle come the second half of the season."

For Columbus it was an important step, responding positively after their narrow 2-1 loss in Calgary the night before.

"We were pretty upset after our last game," said Carter. "We had a pretty solid road game but didn?t play well enough to win. That?s not good enough for us anymore. It was nice to come back here 24 hours later and get a victory."

It was the fifth game behind the bench for Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock and he improved his record to 2-3. The former Flyers coach is happy with how it has gone so far.

"I've been really happy since day one here," he said. "We've been in one-goal games everywhere. This time we were on the right side of one. This team has a great spirit and we fight and we battle."

The Blue Jackets hit the scoreboard almost nine minutes in when Alexander Svitov's soft wrist shot from the high slot beat Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson five-hole to give Columbus a 1-0 lead

after the listless first period.

The Oilers continued to struggle early in the second period, registering only one shot on a four-minute power play opportunity.

Roloson didn't help his own cause by taking a slashing call on Rick Nash and it came back to haunt him on the ensuing power play Ron Hainsey's shot from the point hit the post and landed dead

behind Roloson and Gilbert Brule came crashing in to swat it home.

And the bleeding continued for Edmonton just a minute and half later as the Blue Jackets went ahead 3-0 when a pass pinballed off the skate of Edmonton defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist right to the

waiting stick of former Oiler Anson Carter who put his fourth of the season past a diving Roloson.

For the second game in a row Jussi Markkanen replaced Roloson between the pipes, coming on in relief to start the third.

He didn't have to do much, only facing three shots before being yanked with a minute left, allowing Fritsche to score a late empty netter.

Their long homestand now at an end, the Oilers head to Vancouver on Monday before returning home on Wednesday for a Stanley Cup final rematch with the Carolina Hurricanes. Columbus plays the fifth game of a five game road swing in Colorado on Tuesday.

Notes Losing Smyth so early did not bode well for the Oilers as he has proven to be a thorn in the side of the Blue Jackets. In 20 career games, he had 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points. Earlier

this season he scored two goals to pace the Oilers to a 4-1 win in Columbus . . . It was only the second time in 11 trips to Edmonton that Columbus has been able to record a victory. The Oilers still

hold a 14-3-5 edge in the overall series.



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