Oilers lose 2nd straight game

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET

The game.

Another member of their first line.

And all the momentum they worked so hard for in the first three games of the season.

That's what the Edmonton Oilers lost in one fell swoop last night after a slow start, some sketchy netminding and an innocent-looking check cost them a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars and leading scorer Shawn Horcoff.

"Other than the first 10 or 12 minutes of the game we did some good things,'' said captain Jason Smith, after the Stars built a 2-0 lead and then quelled Edmonton's comeback with Steve Ott's third period winner at 11:45. "But when you're behind right off the start it's tough. We were a little too passive, gave them a little too much time and space and they capitalized on it. We have to come out better.''

JUST LIKE THAT

Just like that, the 3-2 Oilers go from undefeated toasts of the town to staring down the barrel of a three-game losing streak when they visit the desperate and cornered Calgary Flames tonight.

"That's how quick it can happen,'' said Oilers centre Jarret Stoll. "We have to rectify it right now and turn it around. We can't let it go any further. We have to forget about this one and go after Calgary and get a big win there ... that will get our confidence right back to where we want it.''

Ty Conklin's confidence needs the most work. Shaky in the Tuesday loss in Los Angeles, he struggled again yesterday. He got the hook after Dallas scored on their sixth and seventh shots of the game (Jussi Jokinen at 5:22 of the first period and Bill Guerin at 16 seconds of the second). Both were the result of soft rebounds, and head coach Craig MacTavish was quick to make the change.

"I thought it would be hard for him to battle back mentally,'' said the coach, who isn't blaming Conklin's work for the recent results. "We scored one goal for him in L.A. You don't win many games when you score one goal. I'm not by any stretch pinning this on Ty. He's a good goalie, he's going to be important to our team. We have to show him some loyalty and we'll get him back in there before too long.''

The keeper didn't have much to say afterwards.

"It was the right move; Juss came in and played well,'' said Conklin, who came into the game with a 3.05 GAA and .885 save percentage. "I just didn't stop the puck.''

Elsewhere on the bad news front, Horcoff joins linemate Ryan Smyth on the injured list after he sprained his right shoulder. He'll be out three or four games. The play was so harmless, a rub out along the end boards, he isn't even sure if that's when it happened.

"It's really frustrating, especially something as harmless as that,'' he said. "At first I just felt a little burn but that happens all the time. Then I went out for a draw the next shift and felt it kind of give away.

"There's nothing structurally wrong, it's just a matter of getting the strength back and trying to get rid of the soreness.''

TOUGH SLEDDING

In the meantime, it'll be some tough sledding for the rest of the boys.

"I think Smytty's doing well and I shouldn't be out too long,'' said Horcoff. "I think it's going to be a good test for our depth. It's going to be a great chance for some of the younger guys.''

Down 2-0 and missing Horcoff, the Oil battled back on goals from Smith and Jani Rita, but Ott beat Jussi Markkanen with a deflection to win it.

"We battled back,'' said Stoll. "But they just found a way to win it in the end.''

LATE HITS: Smyth will resume skating in about a week, once he's fitted for a new brace. With he and Todd Harvey out, the Oilers are short a forward, so they recalled Kyle Brodziak from Iowa ... Guerin had a goal and an assist against his old team.


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