Conklin shines as Red Wings blank Oilers

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DETROIT (Ticker) -- The Detroit Red Wings are beginning to

remind the hockey world why they are the defending Stanley Cup

champions.

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.

"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

things."

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

advantage.

"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

doorstep.

"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."

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