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Yzerman, Wings Trounce Oilers

Steve Yzerman and Aaron Ward scored on the first two shots against former Red Wing Bob Essensa as Detroit cruised to just its third win in its last nine games, 6-2 over the Edmonton Oilers.

Yzerman scored on his first shift, skating down the left side and wristing his first of two goals past Essensa at 48 seconds. Less than five minutes later, Ward recorded his first of the season, giving the Red Wings a 2-0 advantage.

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  • "Any time you get a quick start, especially on the road when you're struggling, it helps," said Detroit right wing Darren McCarty. "But more importantly, we played a solid 60 minutes of Red Wing hockey."

    Detroit outscored Edmonton 3-1 in both the first and third periods around a scoreless second.

    "Our goal was to play consistent and play a high-tempo game," explained Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy, who had three assists. "Tonight, we did that."

    "We know where the problem is, right here in this room. We started badly in so many games lately."

    Essensa, who played 13 games with the Red Wings in 1993-94, helped the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions snap a two-game skid, stopping just 20 shots. Detroit was 2-6 in its previous eight games after a 6-2 start and was coming off a 5-3 loss at Calgary on Monday.

    "Calgary didn't show Detroit any respect and we more than made up for it tonight," said disgusted Edmonton coach Ron Low. "You won't find too many guys over there (Detroit lockr room) needing ice bags tonight."

    Just 60 seconds after Ward's goal, Rem Murray tallied for Edmonton. But Vyacheslav Kozlov scored on the power play with 4:06 left in the first period as the Red Wings rebuilt a two-goal lead.

    The teams combined for only 13 shots in the second period before Martin Lapointe increased the advantage to 4-1 at 8:14 of the third, wristing a shot from the left faceoff circle off Essensa's glove and into the net.

    Yzerman, who was stopped on a breakaway in the second period, added his second goal of the game 5:25 later. The Detroit captain skated in all alone against Essensa and beat him with the forehand.

    The Red Wings continued their roll less than three minutes later as Sergei Fedorov notched his fourth goal of the season. Yzerman hit the speedy Russian with a perfect blue line-to-blue line pass. Fedorov split a pair of defenders, deked Essensa to the ice and lifted the puck into the net.

    "We're capable of playing this way every night," McCarty said. "And shutting down a fast young team like Edmonton is a good reminder that if you put in the necessary effort we can win consistently in this league."

    The Oilers, who entered the game with the league's second-best offense, fell to 1-2-1 in their last four games after a 5-1 stretch. They went 2-1-1 on a recent road trip, allowing a total of seven goals.

    "If you play as a team on the road and as individuals at home and think that's good enough, you're sadly mistaken," said Low. "Seventeen thousand people paid to see us play the way we did on the road: skate, bang and check. And we sent them home without seeing any of it."

    Edmonton rookie defenseman Tom Poti capped the scoring with his first career goal with 2:03 to play. The 21-year-old beat Chris Osgood short side with a wrist shot from the left circle.

    "It's nice to get it out of the way finally and get that off my back," Poti said. "Every game, I'm feeling more and more comfortable and I wasn't too worried about not scoring."

    Osgood made 19 saves in his 11th straight start for the Red Wings, who improved to 12-3-2 against the Oilers over the past five seasons.

    "Detroit's a tough team to play against," Poti said. "They did an excellent job of making puck movement difficult for us. They covered the passing lanes really well. In a game like this, you have to count on getting a few breaks and we didn't get many tonight."

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