Senators stare down Oilers

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

This match-up had mismatch written all over it.

At one end of Rexall Place stood Dominik Hasek, who took his place in the blue paint last night boasting the NHL's second best goals-against average and save-percentage. Looking back at him was Ty Conklin, who was, well, lagging behind in both categories.

This stare down of puck-stoppers made the odds on the Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote look like even-money - and we know who always took the anvil in the teeth in that showdown.

WASN'T AROUND AT THE END

That would be Conklin, who wasn't even around at end of the game on a night Hasek was very ordinary, but good enough to backstop the Ottawa Senators to a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

These days, ordinary wins the battle in goal.

"We had some chances," lamented Jarret Stoll.

"That's the breaks. They worked for them and they got them. We didn't.

"There were times he (Hasek) looked like he was struggling, but he's a great goaltender and makes the big saves look easy sometimes. When we had him against the ropes a bit we had to get more rubber at him."

Conklin gave up four goals on 16 shots before getting yanked in favour of Jussi Markkanen and Peter Schaefer's 4-2 goal stood up as the winner as the Oilers were one-upped between the pipes again.

You could almost hear GM Kevin Lowe's speed-dialler humming as his team got nothing for a decent effort because the big save wasn't there when it was needed. With a 26-24 edge in shots, the Oilers have outshot opponents in 16 straight games. They've lost eight of them.

"One constant, in most games, is we've outplayed the opposition, sometimes by a considerable margin," Craig MacTavish said at the morning skate.

"We still haven't found a way to win. We've got to start winning more of those games."

When Mike Fisher banked a puck off Vaclav Varada past Conklin for a 1-0 lead on Ottawa's second shot 2:18 into the game, it looked like the Oilers might be in trouble. Not so. At least, not yet.

NIGHTLY QUOTA

Hasek gave up his nightly quota - he came in with a 2.04 goals-against average - in a span of just over four minutes when Marc-Andre Bergeron blew a pair of slapshots past him for a 2-1 lead.

That lasted all of 68 seconds into the second period as Dany Heatley got his 28th when his shot from a sharp angle banked off of Conklin's pad and into the net on a power play. Bad goal.

Antoine Vermette's goal to put the Sens up 3-2 was no thing of beauty either, but the ugliness belonged to Bergeron, not Conklin. Zdeno Chara picked off Bergeron's clearing attempt at the blueline and the puck ended up in the net when Vermette re-directed Brian McGrattan's feed.

Conklin's night, such as it was, was done when Schaefer took the rebound of Anton Volchenkov's point shot off the end boards and put it top shelf for a 4-2 lead at 11:56.

"It was just one of those things," Conklin said. "It came off the boards hot and right onto his stick.

"I didn't feel like I was struggling, no. I didn't think I let in bad goals.

"I let in four, obviously, but I don't think you can look at any of them and say, 'That's a bad goal.' "

Bergeron's third goal, originally credited to Ryan Smyth, to cut it to one late in the second period added some drama, but Varada ended any hope of an Oiler comeback when he got his second with less than six minutes to go.

DVORAK RETURNS: After waiting 13 games to get back into the line-up because of a strained groin, Radek Dvorak was on the ice against the Sens.

On the shelf since taking a twirl against the New Jersey Devils Dec. 13 - a return from the initial strain that was, obviously, premature - Dvorak drew in on a line with Marty Reasoner and Todd Harvey. He played 15:23.

AROUND THE RINK: Bergeron's hat-trick was the first by an Oiler defenceman since Paul Coffey managed the feat Dec. 20, 1985.


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