DETROIT -- It's understandable that the Edmonton Oilers were a little nervous about venturing into Joe Louis Arena last night, slumping, exhausted from a brutal night of travel and facing a vengeance-minded Wings team on a six-game winning streak.
But scared shotless?
How do you explain zero shots in the first period? How do you explain being outshot 28-3 through the first 33 minutes and 45-16 through three periods of a disgraceful 3-0 loss?
"I can't,'' said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, who used up the last of his patience watching the Oilers hang Dwayne Roloson out to dry while giving Detroit's Dominik Hasek most of the night off. "It was an absolutely humiliating experience.''
While the Oilers - after a long hold-up at Montreal customs Tuesday night, didn't arrive in Detroit until 3:30 - MacTavish says it doesn't give them a free pass to mail it in.
"You can't continually make excuses for this group the last little while,'' he said.
"You have to put a better effort forward than we did in the first period. It is an advantage for Detroit, absolutely. Is it a substantial advantage? Probably. But in no way shape or form does it explain the type of performance we had, virtually from everyone with the exception of our goaltender.''
Unless Roloson and rookies like Ladislav Smid, Matt Greene, Brad Winchester caught earlier flights to Detroit, the fatigue excuse doesn't wash.
"That's not just tonight, it's been that way for the last little while. It's time for some accountability from our veterans.''
It was only the fourth time in franchise history that the Oilers have been held to zero shots in a period (most recently was also against Detroit in 2004).
"I don't remember a game where I didn't have to make a save for 20 minutes,'' grinned Hasek.
But, miraculously, they escaped the first period 0-0, thanks to Roloson.
"No shots is something that shouldn't happen at this level,'' said Petr Sykora, who had two for the game.
"We couldn't create any offence at all.''
Their ineptitude was laughable at times. The fact they didn't manage a single shot in the first period masks the fact they gave up almost 50.
"That was an awful game, from the start through to the finish,'' said captain Jason Smith. "We didn't play near the quality of game you need to to win in this league, that's for sure.''
Not that they know much about winning, with just one in the last seven games. How'd you like to be Roloson? He makes 42 saves and loses.
"It's still disappointing, we lost the game and that's the bottom line,'' he said. "It doesn't matter if you make 100 saves or one save. Unfortunately we didn't get that win and it's a downer.''
Miraculously, it was still 1-0 after 40 minutes, and when Winchester's dogged determination provided Edmonton with a power play, they wasted it along with Roloson's heroics, giving up a shorthanded goal to Henrik Zetterberg at 2:57 of the third to add further insult to the evening.
By game's end, Ales Hemsky and Marc-Andre Bergeron were getting crumbs of ice time.
"(Hemsky)was treating giveaways like doughnuts,'' said MacTavish. "And he ordered a dozen of them early.''
Now, what was supposed to be a day off has been replaced by an early morning practice and a mad as hell coach.
They thought they were tired before.