|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|EDM||0||4||0||(0 - 0)||4|
by Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
Controversial free agent addition Mike Comrie silenced his naysayers Friday night with a confident and energetic performance at Rexall Place. The Edmonton native played a set-up role in all four Oilers goals and added a fight late in the game to help the Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 4-0. Comrie earned first star for his efforts, while winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin earned third star for stopping all 18 shots faced in his Oilers debut.
Less than two minutes into the game, Jason Strudwick and scrapper Adam Keefe traded fighting words and then punches deep in the Oilers' zone. The fight ended in a pile-up on the ice, and both players were assigned five minute majors for the altercation.
At 6:32, Jean-Francois Jacques was convicted of slashing and joined Strudwick in the Oilers penalty box. Jacques enjoyed an incident-free two minutes, but immediately made an impact when stepping back on the ice.
Seconds after completing his penalty, the Oilers' winger levelled Christian Backman and faced the wrath of a furious Keefe. The ensuing battle netted both players fighting majors plus an instigating minor and 10-minute misconduct for Keefe.
With just under four minutes left on the clock, the Panthers went back on the penalty kill when Bryan McCabe was called for holding. Although the Oil managed to test Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun with four shots -- including a sneaky attempt that snaked along the goal line -- the puck was kept from crossing over and the scoreless game progressed into the second period.
The Oilers started the middle frame with a 10-4 shot advantage but saw the gap dwindle when Strudwick served two minutes for cross-checking. Nikolai Khabibulin and his penalty killers kept the puck out of the net, and then watched rookie defenceman Taylor Chorney snap the puck over Vokoun's glove to put the home team up 1-0.
The Panthers chances of catching up were seriously hindered in the latter half of the period when three players took overlapping penalties to create extended one- and two-man-advantages for the Oilers. Shortly into the second five-on-three, a well-executed first-line attack concluded with Shawn Horcoff sinking Edmonton's third unanswered goal of the game and Comrie tallying his third assist.
McCabe left the penalty box on the goal, but Jordan Leopold stayed back to finish his major for checking from behind. O'Sullivan and Comrie then teamed up again, this time to help Jacques score his first goal of the pre-season and give the Oilers a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes.
After doing his part to encourage the healthy lead, Comrie sealed his spot in the fans' hearts by adding a fight to his resume. To the right of Vokoun's net, the controversial Oilers addition dropped his gloves and took on Eric Himelfarb, drawing a standing ovation and enthusiastic "Comrie" chant as he took his spot in the penalty box.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Oilers had tallied 36 shots while the Panthers had yet to break 15. A late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Kip Brennan helped the visitors approach 20 shots but Khabibulin turned away each attempt to secure a 4-0 shutout win at Rexall Place Friday night.
|Taylor Chorney (1) Snap shot - ASST: Ryan Stone (1), Mike Comrie (1)|
4 - 0 EDM
|Patrick O'Sullivan (1) Tip-in - ASST: Mike Comrie (2), Ryan Stone (2)|
2 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Shawn Horcoff (1) Tip-in - ASST: Mike Comrie (3), Tom Gilbert (1)|
3 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Jean-Francois Jacques (1) Snap shot - ASST: Patrick O'Sullivan (1), Mike Comrie (4)|
4 - 0 EDM