Igor Ulanov spent about 40 minutes working with coach Craig MacTavish before the rest of the Edmonton Oilers skated yesterday as penance for his glaring giveaway on the winning goal by Joe Sakic in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Colorado.
Simply put, MacTavish is running out of patience with the 36-year-old veteran, who tossed a puck into the middle that Sakic gobbled up and buried past Mike Morrison to decide things.
"We have to eliminate that from his game," MacTavish said.
"He knows the importance of eliminating that from his game. It's just got to be factored right out of his game. We're going to eliminate it. We're not going to see that out of him."
Ulanov plays hard, plays hurt and is the epitome of a team player, but he's got a long history of making the big mistake -- the kind of errors that lose games. MacTavish made it abundantly clear yesterday that's not something he's willing to put up with much longer.
"You just can't make that mistake," MacTavish said. "He knows it. We've gone over it at length on a number of occasions.
"He does so many good things for the team, but as I said (Tuesday), ultimately, that big mistake frames his game. If he can eliminate that, which he can, he gives us a real valuable defenceman. If he can't, we've got to do something else in that position."
Ulanov took the rap after the game and again yesterday. He knows he made the wrong play -- it was a bonehead mistake that spoiled an otherwise solid effort by him and his teammates against the Avs.
"I regret that it happened," said Ulanov. "It was the mistake that cost the game. At the same time, we're human. The fewer mistakes you make, the better player you are.
"I just have to turn the page. Every single shift I go on the ice, I have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Ulanov is a team-worst minus-7 on the season.
DAN SMITH SUMMONED: Left with just six healthy defencemen after sending rookie Dan Syvret to Hamilton before the opening faceoff against Colorado, the Oilers have recalled veteran Dan Smith from the Bulldogs.
Smith, 29, was scoreless in seven games when he was sent to Hamilton Nov. 19 to make room for Ulanov on the roster. Smith will get into town today. "The mindset is we're better off having a veteran like Dan Smith here than we are a young guy who should be down there playing," MacTavish said.
AROUND THE RINK: If Jussi Markkanen falters tonight against Vancouver, don't be surprised if Ty Conklin, who's recovering from a strained groin and has been practising the past few days, gets a start in the next game or two. The other option is to send Conklin back to Hamilton on another rehab stint ... Jani Rita's been a healthy scratch in eight straight games and 11 of the last 15. Krys Kolanos has sat in five of nine games the Oilers have played since claiming him on waivers from Phoenix.