Oilers under pressure

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- Oh no, not again.

Coach Craig MacTavish admits that was his first reaction after watching his Edmonton Oilers blow at least a point by giving up two goals in the final two minutes of Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.

A night to sleep on the defeat - the Oilers second straight after a 4-0 stinker in Dallas Monday - has changed MacTavish's outlook somewhat heading into tomorrow's tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We're always on a streak, aren't we? We're streaky," understated MacTavish, who was not nearly as grim-faced as he was immediately after Tuesday's defeat, a game in which Scott Hartnell's goal with 23 seconds remaining beat the Oilers.

"It would have been nice to rectify that by bouncing back from a loss with a win. It was there for us, but, unfortunately, it didn't happen."

The Oilers opened the season with three straight wins, lost seven straight, fashioned five consecutive wins and have now lost two in a row.

Good or bad, as was the case in Dallas and the final two minutes Tuesday, but seldom indifferent, this bunch.

"The important thing is for us to have some patience. For whatever reason, it seems like there's an undue amount of pressure for this early in the year," MacTavish said. "Pressure isn't always productive.

HAPPY MIDDLE GROUND

"We have to have a more patient approach. Yes, it was critical when we were losing a bunch of games, and it may get critical again, but we have to have the patience to play through some of these stretches in the year."

What MacTavish is looking for is a happy middle ground between the depths of despair found in some corners during the losing streak and the overdone optimism prevalent when the Oilers rattled off five straight.

"You can't put more emphasis on one game than another," said Steve Staios. "We just have to learn how to play consistent. If we play like we did (Tuesday), more times than not we're going to get the win.

"It was a good bounce back from the game in Dallas. We just have to make sure we continue to do the right things. If we can stick to our game plan, we're going to be a tough team to beat.

"For the most part, we were that team (Tuesday), but we didn't come out with the result. We have to keep our heads on straight."

LOOKED LIKE WORLD-BEATERS

The Oilers looked like world-beaters in slapping down the feeble St. Louis Blues 7-2 Friday for their fifth straight win. They looked liked dismal dogs in taking the collar against the Stars.

Truth is, they're neither. That's a perspective and distinction MacTavish is trying to keep clear with just 17 games in the books.

"It just seems like this year, more than a lot of other years, you're taking baggage from one game into the next," he said. "It's emotionally and physically debilitating for the team. We have to find a way to be more focused in on the long (haul).

"Yes, I was disappointed in the Dallas game. We didn't have the effort in that game and the focus we needed. It was disappointing for everybody the way we lost (Tuesday) when we played well. We have to be resilient enough to bounce back and play a good game in Columbus."

AROUND THE RINK ... the Oilers power play, a torrid 9-for-29 during the winning streak, is 1-for-12 in the last two games ... rookie Danny Syvret played just 11:28 against the Predators after logging 16:56 in Dallas and 18:24 against St. Louis Friday in his NHL debut ... the Oilers' dominance on the dot has taken a hit in the last two games as they won just 23 of 48 draws in Dallas and 28 of 55 Tuesday.


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