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Oilers' Markkanen gets first shutout of season

12/7/2002

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Jussi Markkanen shook off the rust and made
the Edmonton Oilers' extensive goal support unnecessary.

Markkanen stopped 22 shots for his first shutout of the season,
and the Oilers bounced back from their only loss in three weeks
with a 4-0 victory against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

After having their seven-game unbeaten streak snapped Thursday
against Tampa Bay, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first
period, and Markkanen did the rest.

"It helps when you can score a couple of goals in the first
period,'' Markkanen said. "We played a good, solid game
defensively, and we capitalized on our chances.''

Jason Chimera, Ryan Smith, Marty Reasoner and Daniel Cleary all
scored for the Oilers, 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

Markkanen, Edmonton's backup to Tommy Salo, started for the
sixth time this season. He notched his first shutout since March 4,
2002, and the third of his career. Markkanen weathered early
momentum by the Panthers, who had a 9-0 edge in shots after six
minutes.

"They were coming hard and we had some trouble getting
organized early,'' Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "They
poured it on pretty good, but it was a similar situation to what
happened to us in our loss to Tampa Bay. It's real deflating for a
hockey club to expend a lot of energy and suddenly be down 1-0,
then 2-0.''

The Oilers scored twice in a two-minute span to chase goalie
Roberto Luongo, who played for the second straight night.

Luongo stopped 40 shots in a 2-0 win over Carolina on Friday,
but he wasn't as sharp against Edmonton. The Oilers scored on two
of their first six shots and led 2-0 less than 11 minutes in.

"You see no action the first 10 minutes, and you try to stay
focused,'' Luongo said. "They scored those two quick goals, and
that cut our legs out from underneath us. I let those goals go in,
and it's tough to bounce back from that.''

The Panthers, who had won three of four, were shut out for the
first time in 28 games this season.

Chimera put Edmonton ahead 1-0, getting the puck on a pass from
Ales Hemsky and scoring from just inside the left circle at 8:42.
Two minutes later, Smith took advantage of Kristian Huselius'
turnover. Smith moved in from the blue line and slid the puck under
Luongo for a 2-0 lead.

The Oilers made it 3-0 on Reasoner's power-play goal at 14:52 of
the first period. The goal came seven seconds after Florida's
Viktor Kozlov took a hooking penalty. Eric Brewer fired a blast
from the slot, and Reasoner tipped it in.

"That's as good a game as we've played with the lead all
year,'' MacTavish said. "We played extremely well defensively in
the second and third periods. We made good decisions and put
points in the bank.''

The Panthers were unable to match the intensity they had in
beating Carolina twice in three days.

"We definitely dominated early in the game and didn't get any
results,'' Florida coach Mike Keenan said. "There was a letdown
when they scored that second goal. We didn't have the resolve
tonight to find the energy to come back and compete, to stay
involved in the game. It was pretty much over at that point.''

Yani Hurme replaced Luongo for the final nine minutes of the
first period, but Luongo returned for the second and third periods.

By then, the Oilers were well on their way to a win.

"This was a good game for us,'' Chimera said. "We played well
on defense, Jussi came up with the big saves early, and we took it
from there. Any time you're on the road and score four goals,
you're going to be happy.''

Game notes
Florida was held without a point for only the third time in
15 games. ... The Panthers are 0-3-1-1 in the second of
back-to-back games. ... The Oilers have allowed just 18 goals in
the last 12 games. ... Markkanen is 4-3 this season. ... Panthers
LW Peter Worrell missed the game because of a sore groin. ...
Chimera's goal was his third of the season and first since Nov. 8.