SUN Hockey Pool

Shoot! That's special

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

Maybe they should skip the first 60 minutes and overtime and get right to the aspect of the new game the NHL is pitching.

That's what gave fans a reason to shout at Rexall Place last night.

That's not what the NHL head office had in mind when it mandated all 2005 pre-season games would end with a shootout to give fans a peek at the new format. But it was the only part of last night's meeting between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames that produced any real buzz.

BARELY A SKIRMISH

The first instalment in the Battle of Alberta between the Oilers and Flames was barely a skirmish. Instead, those who came for a look-see saw a parade to the penalty box and special teams display that produced just two goals in regulation time in a 2-1 sudden-death shootout win for the Oilers.

Ryan Smyth beat Brent Krahn in the sudden-death portion of the shootout and Mike Morrison stopped all four shots he faced to decide things.

"I've said all along, I'm not a huge fan of it because it's too individual," Smyth said of the shootout.

"I don't know how you should decide a game, but it is for the fans and I know we had to make some adjustments and changes to the game. We got the better end of this one."

The rule changes being instituted by the NHL are designed to eliminate obstruction, open up the game and create more offence.

Two out of three was as good as it got last night.

Refs Mick McGeough and Brad Meier called it by the new book and the teams combined for 22 power-play attempts. The Oilers, whose odd-man unit finished 29th in the NHL in 2003-04, went 1-for-12 with Chris Pronger making his Oilers' debut back on the point.

With Jarome Iginla, Tony Amonte, Daymond Langkow, Roman Hamrlik and Jordan Leopold left in Cowtown, the Calgary power play stiffed, going 0-for-10. Morrison, pushing for a job behind Ty Conklin, had something to do with that, making 24 saves.

"I'm happy. I just wanted to keep it close and play that whole game," said Morrison. "We've got good goalies here. This was my first opportunity to play in this jersey and dress in this locker-room."

FEW DECENT SWIPES

Calgary's attack didn't take many decent swipes at Morrison. The Flames managed just 10 shots through 30 minutes, but made their 11th count when former Oilers prospect Matthew Lombardi sifted a puck behind a screened Morrison 12:25 into the second period.

Jarret Stoll got the Oilers and the power play on the board 11:53 into the final period when he one-timed a Pronger feed behind Krahn to tie it. Stoll also was in on the only scrum of the night when drove Calgary defenceman Andrew Ference into the boards from behind and got a major and a game misconduct.

With all the penalties, the flow of the game was up and down," Stoll said.

"It was a good start to see how they're going to call the game. There were some penalties we couldn't believe they called, but we have to adjust."

AROUND THE RINK: With the exception of Conklin (groin) and perhaps one or two other changes, Team White will face the Dallas Stars at Rexall Place tomorrow.

TKACHUK FLUNKS PHYSICAL: St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk failed a physical and was suspended by the team yesterday.

General manager Larry Pleau did not elaborate on the status of Tkachuk, but said he was expected to return to the team.


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