The Edmonton Oilers are headed east just as their game has gone south, and that can't be anything but trouble for a team that's won on the road just once in five tries this season.
A better effort wasn't good enough against the Dallas Stars at Rexall Place last night as the Oilers lost for the fourth time in their last five games, this time getting jobbed of at least one point by referee Mick McGeough in a 3-2 loss.
They'll pack up their troubles, and considerable they are, and open a five-game road swing in Montreal Tuesday. They'll be looking to improve on a 1-4-0 road record and turn around a slide that's seen them go from 6-2-0 to just one game over .500.
That might look good in 10 days.
MORE OF THE SAME
More determined than in a 5-3 loss to Nashville and a 6-2 stinker against Phoenix during this stumble, the bottom line was nonetheless more of the same against the Stars thanks to a blown call by McGeough.
McGeough waved off a goal by Ales Hemsky with 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation time that would have gotten the Oilers to overtime, ruling that centre Shawn Horcoff gloved the puck back to Jarret Stoll on the point on the face-off that led to the goal. He didn't.
The Oilers were long on try but short on results in the opening 20 minutes, showing infinitely more jump than they did in spotting Nashville a 2-0 lead Wednesday. Not much consolation there.
First, Dallas went up 1-0 on a goal by Brenden Morrow on a play in which Eric Lindros interfered with Dwayne Roloson, knocking his stick out of his blocker hand cutting across in front of the net. No call.
Then, Raffi Torres, Shawn Horcoff and Patrick Thoresen buzzed around Marty Turco on one frenetic shift without getting a decent crack at the Dallas stopper.
Moments later, Niklas Hagman tapped a goalmouth feed from Stu Barnes past Roloson to put the Stars up by a pair.
Having cut it to 2-1 on a lucky goal by Ryan Smyth - his shot from the end boards bounced off Turco's leg into the net - the Oilers came on, but didn't get anything done, even with a two-man advantage of 1:21 with Stephane Robidas and Philippe Boucher in the box.
The Stars, outplayed and outshot 11-5 in the second, went up 3-1 on Trevor Daley's first of the season 59 ticks before the second intermission, and Turco made that stand up, giving up a goal to Petr Sykora with 1:25 to play before McGeough goofed things up.
HEJDA DRAWS IN
Jan Hejda got out of the press box after a dozen games in the cheap seats and drew in on the blueline for Daniel Tjarnqvist.
While Tjarnqvist was a workhorse in the Oilers first 12 games, averaging 22:15 a night, his play has dropped off in the opinion of coach Craig MacTavish. With that, and wanting to get a look at the 28-year-old Hejda, MacTavish made the switch.
"If I didn't get Jan into the lineup soon, after sitting out the first 12 games, I'd be looking for a rubber room for him," smiled MacTavish.