Conklin Star-struck

Edmonton Oilers' goalie Ty Conklin, right, skates past as Dallas Stars' Yared Hagos is...

Edmonton Oilers' goalie Ty Conklin, right, skates past as Dallas Stars' Yared Hagos is congratulated by his teammates after scoring their third goal during first-period pre-season action in Edmonton yesterday. The Stars won 6-5 in a shootout. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

One shot. One-nothing Dallas.

Two shots. Two-nothing Dallas.

Eight shots. Three-nothing Dallas.

Pre-season results mean nothing, and even less than that when a goalie is 10 minutes into his first game, coming off a groin strain and getting used to the smaller pads ... but when the guy who's expected to carry the load this season starts off like that, ya gotta ask.

"It's a pre-season game, but in the same breath you want to play well every time you go out there," said Ty Conklin, who gave up four goals on 17 shots in the first 29:31 of a 6-5 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars yesterday.

"I'm not going to resign myself to 'I had a bad half of a pre-season game, so it's going to be a terrible year.' I just know that I have to make sure I come out and play better next time and get better every pre-season game."

13 POWER PLAYS

If the league opens up like they hope it will -- and last night the teams combined for 13 power plays and 61 shots on goal -- netminding is going to be of paramount importance this season. And while it wasn't the start Conklin was hoping for, head coach Craig MacTavish shrugged it off to rust and nerves.

"Absolutely," he said. "You forget as a player how difficult it is to be successful at this level. You can assume you've got past all the first night jitters and what not, but they're there for everybody. That's why they play the pre-season -- to get the veterans up to shape. Ty will be much better next time out, that much I know for sure."

Down 3-0 after 20 minutes, the Oilers rallied back on a big night from the line of Raffi Torres (one goal, two assists), Fernando Pisani (one goal, two assists) and Zack Stortini (one goal and a fight with big Garrett Burnett).

"Those guys played great," said MacTavish. "For whatever reason Raffi plays great, and at the end of the first game he's only got 12 minutes with all the power plays and penalty kill. I had it in my mind tonight that I was going to make sure I got him a lot more ice than that. He was certainly deserving of it. Raffi was a tower for us physically and good-skill plays."

Pisani, Edmonton's ninth pick (195th overall) in 1996, is one of those late picks you initially think will never make it past the "in- the-system" section of the guide book. But in his first full season last year, he had 16 goals and a plus-14 rating and quickly earned the coaching staff's confidence.

"Fernie is a solid player. You can put him out there in any aspect of the game," said Torres. "Power play, even strength, last minute, he's one player the brass here love and he's earned every bit of it, being an eighth-round pick."

Pisani isn't sure if he and Torres will make up two-thirds of a line when the regular season starts, but if it's OK with MacTavish, it's more than OK by him.

"I'd like to play with Raffi," said the 28-year-old. "He's a gritty player, he works hard and he gets pucks to the net and he's great in the corners."

STORTINI SHINES

As for Stortini, the six-foot-three, 216-pound Sudbury Wolves centre showed all kinds of moxie in his pre-season debut.

"It's no small act of courage to drop the mitts, and instigate it with Burnett," said MacTavish. "A lot of guys would think 'I got a goal in my first game, I don't have to tackle this amazon.' He had a great game, I'm happy for him."

"It was good of him to give me the opportunity," said Stortini, who got right back up after the 230-pound Burnett landed a hard punch late in the tilt. "It was a great challenge and I really enjoyed doing it."

LATE HITS: With the game tied 5-5 after OT, the Stars went 1-for-3 on Jess Deslauriers in the shootout to post the win ... Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Steve Staios (tying it with 45 second to play) scored the other Oilers goals.


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