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Oilers' goal: Choose a starter for Game 2

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A group of Edmonton players swarmed around Ty Conklin, peppering him with rubber and looking to expose any vulnerability. Upper left corner. Lower right post. Stick side. Glove hand. Between the pads.

At the other end of the rink, Jussi Markkanen faced a similar barrage, managing to stop some of the shots with various parts of his heavily padded body.

This was a crash course in Stanley Cup 101, an off-day practice that took on the look of a tryout with the Oilers trying to decide which goalie will take over.

Either Conklin, who played at the University of New Hampshire, or Markkanen will start for the Oilers in Game 2 of the finals tonight, well aware that their team is already down a game to the Carolina Hurricanes and reeling from the loss of playoff star Dwayne Roloson.

``The way Roli has been playing, it's really unfortunate what happened," Conklin said after the hourlong practice. ``But, on the flip side, it is a good opportunity for whoever plays."

Until now, Conklin and Markkanen had spent the entire postseason watching Roloson pull off one miraculous save after another, leading the eighth-seeded Oilers to the brink of their first Stanley Cup title since 1990.

Now, it's all on their shoulders because of Roloson's right knee, which was wrenched in a goal-mouth collision during the closing minutes of Game 1. The 36-year-old former UMass-Lowell goalie is out for the series with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

Conklin, who played only 18 games during the regular season while battling injuries and stinging criticism, was the first guy off the bench after Roloson was injured Monday night.

The backup didn't exactly instill a lot of confidence when he botched a clearing attempt behind the net, allowing Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour to score into an open net with a half-minute remaining for a 5-4 victory.

Markkanen, who wasn't in uniform for the opener, is the other option. Coach Craig MacTavish isn't saying which goalie he plans to start in Game 2. Markkanen's most recent appearance was March 1, and he was yanked after the second period.

``This is our test right now," MacTavish said. ``No team wins the Stanley Cup without a certain amount of resiliency. We have to show some right now."

Wesley ready to go
Veteran Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley said he was OK after getting hit with two shots during Game 1, though he did sit out yesterday's practice. Wesley hobbled off the ice after getting hit the second time while trying to kill a first-period penalty, but he returned and played almost 18 minutes with five blocked shots . . . Brind'Amour and Edmonton's Fernando Pisani continue their playoff scoring race. Brind'Amour scored twice in Game 1 to push his total to 11, one ahead of Pisani, who also scored in the opener . . . According to the NHL, the Game 1 winner of the Cup finals has gone on to win the title in 51 of 66 seasons (77 percent) since the league introduced a best-of-seven format in 1939. But Carolina was one that faltered, taking Game 1 on the road in overtime against Detroit in 2002 only to lose the next four.

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