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Friday, December 3, 2010

Khabibulin, Hall star in Oilers' 3rd straight win

TORONTO -Nikolai Khabibulin made 33 saves and Taylor Hall scored twice to help Edmonton beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0 on Thursday night, giving the Oilers their third road victory four nights.

They earned victories in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto with three goalies. Khabibulin was making his first start after missing seven games because of a groin injury.

Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones also scored Edmonton, 9-12-4 after the three-game winning streak.

Toronto, shut out for the sixth time this season, dropped to 8-12-4.

The Maple Leafs have dropped 16 of their last 20 games, sinking to 28th overall in the NHL standings. The restless home crowd expressed its displeasure by booing at the start of the second intermission and throughout the final period.

The outlook has changed considerably for Edmonton since coach Tom Renney blasted his team last week, calling them a joke following a loss in Phoenix. The Oilers have gone 4-1-0 since.

Playing for the second time in as two nights, they made the most of limited opportunities in the offensive zone against Toronto.

Eberle scored his fifth of the season just 3:10 into the game, racing up the right side and around defenseman Tomas Kaberle before beating Jonas Gustavsson from a bad angle.

A highlight-reel goal from Hall made it 2-0 early in the second period. He skated around Francois Beauchemin and roofed a backhander at 6:10 — prompting Leafs coach Ron Wilson to send in Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Gustavsson.

It didn't do much to shake up his listless team. Gagner ended Toronto's comeback hopes by skating hard to the net and knocking a rebound past Giguere with 2.6 seconds left in the middle period.

Khabibulin's second shutout of the season was without a signature save. His toughest tests both came off the stick of Nazem Kadri — with Khabibulin getting his glove on a quick shot in the first period before denying a wraparound attempt in the middle frame.

As the minutes ticked down, several fans chanted "Fire Wilson! Fire Wilson!" — referring to Leafs coach Ron Wilson — before many headed to the exits early.

Hall and Jones scored 34 seconds apart late in the game for Edmonton, which moved ahead of Toronto in the overall standings with the victory. 

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