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Oilers blanked by Blue Jackets, lose Smyth to broken thumb

Dec 3, 2006 - 3:46 AM EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) -- It might be time for coach Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish to dig deeper into his book of demeaning adjectives.

The Oilers authored their second straight uninspiring performance and also lost Ryan Smyth to a broken right thumb in a 4-0 setback to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

After Thursday's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, MacTavish called his team's performance "lackluster, casual and lazy." He was forced to pull goaltender Dwayne Roloson midway through that contest and yanked his veteran netminder after two periods Saturday.

"Every team is going to go through these situations and you have to make sure you can survive them," MacTavish said. "This is a test of the mettle of our team right now collectively and we didn't do a very good job tonight at times."

Adding injury to insult, the Oilers now will be without Smyth - the heart and soul of the team - after the gritty left wing was injured while crashing into the boards early in the first period.

"We were going in there pretty good," Smyth said. "But it was a freak thing and you know I'm very unfortunate and lucky that it hadn't displaced because it could be a lot longer, so I'm lucky. There is no time frame right now. It's out indefinitely."

Alexander Svitov opened the scoring midway through the first period and rookie Gilbert Brule doubled the advantage during a power play with 7:47 left in the middle session. Anson Carter made it 3-0 against his former team just 88 seconds later, sending the Oilers into the locker room to a chorus of boos.

"It's good to get the goal and good for the team to get the win here," Carter said. "We've been working hard and it's not so much that we needed to work harder as we needed to work smarter and that's what we did here tonight."

Rookie Fredrik Norrena made 21 saves for his first career shutout. In just his sixth NHL start, the 22-year-old Finn turned aside seven shots in the first period, five in the second and nine in the third as Columbus won for just the second time in its last 12 games.

"It feels really good to get the shutout, but I just want to be able to help the team win," Norrena said. "They played well in front of me tonight and did not give them many chances. I am happy to be able to get to play whenever they want me to play, but to win is most important and tonight we won and that is good."

Roloson allowed three goals on 20 shots before giving way to Jussi Markkanen, who turned aside both shots that came his way in the final session.

"I thought Roloson played fine," MacTavish said.

Even with a slumping goaltender, the Oilers have bigger issues right now. Heading the list is the need to make up for Smyth's 16 goals, which lead the team and ranked third in the NHL entering Saturday.

"Everybody knows what Smytty brings to our team," Edmonton defenseman Steve Staios said. "Guys just have to step up as he's a big loss offensively for us in front of their net. But I feel confident we have the guys here to fill that roll and step up."

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