SUN Hockey Pool

Island of despair

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

LONG ISLAND -- One way or another, this was a streak-buster.

The question, of course, was which streak would be the first to go when the Edmonton Oilers came calling on the New York Islanders last night to mark Michael Peca's return to Long Island.

Would it be the tidy four-game win streak away from home the Oilers have fashioned with an impressive road show, or a three-game stretch at Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum with no sniff dating back to Dec. 14, 1999?

It's six years and counting for the Oilers, who saw their fifth straight win go out the window, thanks to a 27-save dandy by New York stopper Rick DiPietro and a shootout goal by Trent Hunter in a 3-2 loss that sends them packing without two points again.

FLAWLESS FIRST PERIOD

"DiPietro played a good game," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "They didn't have any momentum at all after the first period. We played a pretty much flawless first period and could have come out of it up a couple.

"We didn't capitalize on the amount of opportunities we did have and the power play was a frustration for us tonight."

DiPietro held off the Oilers early and Hunter, an Alberta boy from Red Deer, no less, beat them late.

First, Hunter put the Isles up 2-1 with deflection on a power play 10:44 into the third period.

Then, after Chris Pronger got the Oilers to overtime with a goal with just over a minute to play in regulation, Hunter roofed a shot on Jussi Markkanen in the shootout.

The Oilers likely deserved to end their frustration here after an honest night's work, but DiPietro, who stopped Fernando Pisani and Ryan Smyth in the shootout, and Hunter had other ideas.

"Sometimes you get lucky and you win and sometimes the other goalie makes the saves and you lose," said Markkanen after the Oilers lost for the first time in four shootouts.

"I definitely think DiPietro kept them in the game. We had lots of chances and he was very good."

As bad as the Islanders have been at home, 5-5-1 coming in, they one-upped themselves - or is it one-downed? - with an opening 20 minutes lame enough that the faithful booed them lustily at times.

TICKED OFF A STICK

They were lucky to get to the first intermission down just 1-0 on Pisani's seventh at 13:31.

When Pisani's shot ticked off the stick of Bruno Gervais between DiPietro's legs, the shots were 8-1 Oilers.

Peca was in the box for slashing when the Islanders got going and got even as Arron Asham finally solved Markkanen - after the Finn stole a sure goal off the stick of Jason Blake - when his deflection of Brad Lukowich's point shot trickled in at 15:51 of the second.

When Pronger stepped into the slot and zipped a rocket past DiPietro at 18:56 of the third, the Oilers got a point.

But when Alexei Yashin and Ales Hemsky traded goals in the shootout and DiPietro stopped Smyth, it was Hunter's turn.

"I think we played well enough to win," Markkanen said.

"We didn't make our chances count and they did."


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