Great Pretenders

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:42 PM ET

ST. LOUIS -- If the Edmonton Oilers were looking for a soundtrack for yesterday afternoon's prat fall, Sunday Bloody Sunday would be a good place to start.

Failing that, maybe a little something from The Pretenders.

Hoping to gain a little momentum at the expense of one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Oilers responded instead by bowing down at the feet of the lowly St. Louis Blues. The Central Division dregs, with just two wins in their previous 10 games, made it look easy, never trailing in a 5-3 win.

"For whatever reason we were chasing that game the whole way,'' said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club trailed 1-0, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-3 before an empty netter ended any doubt. "We've seemingly done that a lot this year, where when we need a goal to get back in the game we're more often than not giving up a goal. It was a tough loss.''

TOUGH TO WATCH

Tough to handle. Tough to watch. The game saw Edmonton slump at both ends of the ice - the shooters couldn't score and netminder Jussi Markkanen wasn't good enough - and they fall right back where they started this five-game trip. In the toilet.

"For some reason we can't put a game together, or it's only one in 10, where we're going with all four lines,'' said Shawn Horcoff, who had two assists. "It seems every night only one or two lines are going.''

If that. The only consistency has come from the fourth line, where Brad Winchester has six points in his last since games, including two goals last night.

"It was a tough one to lose,'' said Winchester.

"We wanted to come out in an afternoon game with some energy.''

They didn't come out with nearly enough, and are now 8-8-1, with two wins in their last nine games and a 1-2-1 record on the trip.

"Cry me a river,'' said ex-Oiler Bill Guerin. "We've been losing like that at home.''

Not anymore.

"The one thing we have proven to ourselves is that 100 per cent of the games this year are dependant on how we play,'' said Horcoff.

"When we play well, we win hockey games. We beat the best teams. When we play crappy we've lost to the worst teams. We're losing because we're not playing well and frankly it's unacceptable.''

MARKKANEN WAS AVERAGE

Markkanen, starting in place of Dwayne Roloson, who'd played six straight, whiffed badly on Rucinsky's weak wrister in the second and would have surely wanted a mulligan on Lee Stempniak's third-period backhander.

"He made a few saves, but it was average,'' MacTavish said of the netminding.

Now the whole trip hinges on tonight in Denver. Win it and they finish 2-2-1, salvaging five points. Lose and the trip is a disaster.

"We need to take the good things out of this game,'' said Winchester. "Because it's a big one coming up.''

LATE HITS: Edmonton's flight to Denver was delayed four hours because of a break in the pilot's window ... Marc-Andre Bergeron and J.F. Jacques were the healthy scratches for Edmonton... Raffi Torres played just 4:03 through the first two periods, and was minus-two.


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