Oilers are home-cooked

Edmonton Oilers forward Sergei Samsonov celebrates his goal against Minnesota Wild netminder Manny...

Edmonton Oilers forward Sergei Samsonov celebrates his goal against Minnesota Wild netminder Manny Fernandez during second period action at Rexall Place on Tuesday, March 28, 2006. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 5:05 PM ET

On Fan Appreciation Night at Rexall Place yesterday they gave customers everything from jerseys, to pop, to plasma televisions.

But all they really wanted was a save.

They didn't get it.

Instead, they watched the Minnesota Wild sift three softies through Dwayne Roloson's five hole and waltz out of town with a 3-2 victory.

The fans showed their appreciation by booing Roloson and his dejected teammates off the ice.

"We played well, we skated well from the outset, but they capitalized on the few chances they had," said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club is a dismal 16-20 at home this season.

LITTLE OPPORTUNITY

"We didn't give them much in the third period, four shots. And they scored a couple of goals.

"It's another example that you have to lock up every aspect of our game or it ends up being a loss."

The Oilers looked like they might have it locked up, ahead 2-1 in the third, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard slid a pedestrian backhand deke through Roloson's five hole at 4:18.

Seven minutes after that, Brian Rolston's weak wrister found the five hole as well.

The Oilers, outshooting Minnesota 23-15 at the time, were down 3-2.

"Very disappointed," said Roloson, who allowed three goals on 11 shots over the final 40 minutes.

"They play an efficient hockey game, they sit back and try to create turnovers at the blueline.

"They have some fast guys who can sneak in behind your defencemen and that's what they did tonight.

"But I have to try and come up with one of those.

"At least we get a tie if I can come up with one of those."

Even though they've had trouble with Minnesota in the past (Minnesota is 5-2 in the season series) the Oilers had to view this one as a game they should win.

"Especially going into the third period leading 2-1," said Sergei Samsonov, who had a goal and an assist in the losing effort.

"We have to be better at finishing off teams. We've had lots of leads in games lately and we've just given them up.

"All in all, I thought we had a good effort, but a couple of mistakes cost us and we took a few penalties that kind of changed the momentum. It's tough to waste points like that."

This one started out badly and, aside from a five-minute Edmonton surge late in the second, stayed that way.

Absolutely nothing happened in the first period.

Nothing.

No goals. No scoring chances. Not even a power play.

The Oilers tried all period to break Minnesota's trap, and couldn't. Minnesota tried to pretend like they were forechecking, and couldn't.

Wes Walz got things moving with a shorthanded goal at 2:29 of the second, a lead that stood up until Samsonov and Jarret Stoll converted power plays at 15:05 and 17:50.

Then the roof fell in.

"They didn't have much going for them offensively, but give them credit, they capitalized on the quality chances we gave them," said Stoll.

"The chances they had were fairly good and they ended up in the back of our net."

DEFENDED HIS KEEPER

MacTavish defended his keeper, saying that while five-holers look bad, they're a common goaltending weakness.

"That's the thing with most goalies today," he said.

"There's a hole like this (small) and if you get it there quickly it's tough to close your legs up. They hit it a few times.

"I've seen a lot of good goalies have that vulnerability.

"Fuhrsie was one. You hit that spot, you're going to get a goal.

"So I wouldn't be so hard on Dwayne."

LATE HITS: Ales Hemsky left the game early in the second period with what's being described as lower back strain.


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