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Oilers Shut Out Thrashers 3-0

December 9, 2002

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ATLANTA (AP) _ Tommy Salo stopped 15 shots for his third shutout in 10 games as the Edmonton Oilers continued their stifling defensive play with a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.

Jiri Dopita, Ethan Moreau and Anson Carter scored for the Oilers, who improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 games. They’ve allowed just 18 goals in that span, and have limited opponents to two or fewer goals in 10 of the 13.

The shutout was the 33rd of Salo’s career, and third of the season. He faced very few serious scoring chances against Atlanta, which went 0-for-6 on the power play in getting shut out for the third time. The Thrashers also set a season low for shots.

Atlanta, which had scored 27 goals in its previous six games, are .500 (7-7-0-2) in their last 16 games after starting the season 0-8-1-1.

Byron Dafoe played one of his best games since signing with the Thrashers, but still showed some rust.

After a scoreless first period, Dopita put Edmonton ahead with his first goal of the season at 3:19 of the second when he flipped a shot that sneaked between Dafoe’s right pad and the post.

Early in the third, Dafoe’s ill-advised clearing pass was intercepted by Marty Reasoner and fed in front to Moreau. With Dafoe scrambling back into the crease, Moreau made it 2-0.

Carter made it 3-0 with his 13th, tapping in a cross from Mike York on the power play at 11:20 of the third.

In the six games Dafoe has played, the Thrashers are 2-2-0-2 for six points. But they have given up 24 goals to increase their league-leading total to 102.

Late in the first period, Ilya Kovalchuk and Mike Comrie, two of the league’s rising young stars, engaged in an entertaining fight that stemmed from an incident the last time the teams played here on Feb. 5.

It was Comrie who alerted officials to Kovalchuk’s illegal stick in that game, leading to a two-minute penalty late in the third period. The Oilers didn’t score on that power play, then had to watch as Kovalchuk jumped out of the penalty box, took a breakout pass and scored with a borrowed stick to lead Atlanta to a 3-2 victory.

Then a rookie, Kovalchuk skated past the Oilers bench and said, ``Is this stick OK?″ That prompted several disparaging remarks from the Oilers after the game, as they promised to catch up with Kovalchuk next time they crossed paths. For his part, Kovalchuk suggested that Comrie should concentrate on hockey and not measuring sticks.

In the final minute of the first period, Comrie checked Kovalchuk in front of the Oilers bench and Kovalchuk responded with a high shove with his stick. Kovalchuk then grabbed Comrie and the two began to exchange awkward, but heated punches. It was the first fighting major of Kovalchuk’s career, and the first game misconduct of Comrie’s career. Kovalchuk was not ejected.

There were no further fights until Jeff Weaver was called for charging Oilers captain Jason Smith midway through the third and then had to scuffle with Shawn Horcoff.

Notes: The Thrashers activated D Richard Smehlik, who missed eight games with a strained groin. ... C Marc Savard, who has missed four games with a groin strain, will return when the Thrashers open a three-game road trip in Phoenix on Wednesday. ... The Oilers have played back-to-back games four times this season, going 2-2 in the first game and 3-1 in the second.

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