SUN Hockey Pool

Somebody turn on the light!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Talk about a bad time to get in a scoring slump.

With a playoff spot on the line, the Edmonton Oilers have suddenly found it tough to score.

The Oilers had just two goals in three losses on their recent four-game road trip.

They fell 2-1 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild, lost 2-1 to the St. Louis Blues and were shut out 2-0 in Detroit.

"We're back down that road again," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We had 66 shots in our last two games and had one goal. That's quite simply not being efficient enough around the net, and not giving ourselves an opportunity to get good bounces and screens and whatnot.

"The other thing is to overcome the checking in front of the net, so your hands are free and you're squared off against the rebound with your hands free, because you fought the battle half a second prior to the puck getting there."

It's not as though the team is not getting its chances. Radek Dvorak, Ethan Moreau and Ryan Smyth all failed to convert on glorious opportunities against the Red Wings.

THINKING TOO MUCH

Michael Peca had his share as well.

"I think we're just thinking too much," Peca said. "You get the puck on your stick on a breakaway or in front of the net, it's like a three-foot putt.

"Any three-foot putt you walk up to and tap it in. It goes in. But as soon as you take a minute or two to read it, and check the break, then you are thinking too much.

"You are thinking about what could go wrong instead of just putting the puck in the net."

Earlier in the season, the Oilers had similar problems and chalked it up to hot goaltenders.

And while Blues rookie Jason Bacashihua was outstanding against the Oilers and Wings goaltender Manny Legace robbed them on a couple of occasions, they still have to find some way to put the puck in the net.

"It's always easy to say we got beat by a hot goaltender," MacTavish said.

"But when you have that over and over and over again, it speaks to more than that. It speaks to our inefficiency offensively."

Heading into the road trip, the Oilers had matched a season-high, pouring seven past the Phoenix Coyotes in a 7-1 win.

But then, with the exception of a 4-3 overtime victory against the Blackhawks in Chicago, the well went dry.

IN THE RIGHT AREA

"It's getting to those chances," said Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff. "It's getting in the right area where a rebound comes to you and you have an empty net.

"We haven't had a goal like that in the last two games and that's the type of goal we need.

"When you get a goal like that, everything seems relaxed, especially for the guys on the bench, next thing you know guys are loose and you get two goals in five shots."


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