SUN Hockey Pool

Back from the dead!

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Comeback Kids routine the Edmonton Oilers have taken to over the past three games makes for great drama. But it's really not such a great idea.

Aside from the good sport of sending reporters into convulsions - pounding delete keys on their laptops and rewriting lopsided losses into last-minute wins at deadline - there is little to recommend it.

Beating the Vancouver Canucks for the fourth straight time this season will be difficult enough without trying to beat the odds by spotting their hosts a two-goal lead like they did last Saturday at General Motors Place.

Yes, it worked that night as the Oilers twice spotted the Canucks a deuce with 2-0 and 4-2 leads before they prevailed 5-4 in overtime on a goal by Michael Peca.

GANGBUSTERS

It also turned out fine the game before that as the Oilers handed the Montreal Canadiens a 3-1 lead at Rexall Place and then made like gangbusters the rest of the night and won 5-3.

And it was more of the same Monday as the Oilers overcame a 4-2 deficit and edged the Calgary Flames 5-4 on goals by Igor Ulanov, Shawn Horcoff and Fernando Pisani, who completed the comeback with 45 seconds to go.

But really, fellas. "You're not going to make a living coming back at this level," said coach Craig MacTavish, who knows his team has pulled three fast ones to get on this roll. "We know that.

"We'd like to get off to a good start, get out of the first period with a lead and see what it's like to be ahead going into the third period. That's the territory we want to be in."

Simply put, if the Oilers are serious about moving into a tie for first place with the Canucks atop the Northwest Division, they'd better be going from buzzer to buzzer tonight.

"I think they'd lost only once at home going into that game (last Saturday)," Horcoff said. "To come back twice from two-goal deficits, that brings a lot of confidence."

Confidence, my bum. With two games remaining before Christmas the Oilers can hit 20 wins before Dec. 25 for the first time since 1988-89. But we could easily be talking about a five-game losing streak, if you go back to shootout losses in New Jersey and Long Island.

Still twisted about last Saturday's unlikely comeback and stinging from a 4-3 shootout loss to Los Angeles Monday, the Canucks will be plenty motivated and ready to rumble.

"It's got to leave a bitter taste in their mouths with us coming back from a couple goals down," Marty Reasoner said. "I think we know what we're going to be in for. We've got to be prepared.

"Any of these games, when you go into Vancouver or Calgary, you know right off the bat they're going to be coming hard. We've got to be able to sustain that, play our game and slow their momentum as much as possible."

PLAYED POORLY

It's not that the Oilers have played poorly during this three-game stretch of good fortune. That's not the case. After Mike Morrison gave up two goals on four shots last Saturday, they had their fair share of the play. Still, they got help from Maxime Ouellet.

Monday's storyline was much the same. Morrison gave up three goals on the first 10 shots to put his team in the soup again and the Oilers needed a so-so night from Miikka Kiprusoff to send the faithful home happy.

"Vancouver always comes at us the hardest in the first period," said Pisani. "We've got to play with confidence and just weather that storm. If we come out hard and match their intensity, we'll be all right."

Falling behind - the Oilers have been outscored 39-29 in first periods in 34 games this season - has been the rule, not the exception. Getting away with it lately doesn't make it a game plan.

"When you're playing and you're getting wins, you want to try to stay on that roll as long as possible," Horcoff said.

What time's the bus?


Videos

Photos