Power shortage

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

BUFFALO -- In Boston, the Edmonton Oilers squandered seven power-play opportunities.

Do that against the Buffalo Sabres tonight (5 p.m.) at the HSBC Arena and the hole the Oilers currently find themselves in will get deeper.

"They are the best team in the league and we have to bring some offence," said Oilers forward Petr Sykora. "But I thought we were moving the puck pretty good in our last game. I think it's just a matter of time before the puck goes in."

TIME CRUNCH

Time is a luxury the Oilers don't have.

The playoff spot they're chasing is quickly heading in the opposite direction. And tonight they face the best team in the league. One which has been idle since beating the Calgary Flames 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.

"They're skating very well, they're great at home and we're going to have to skate as well as they do," Sykora said. "It's a huge challenge for us and there's no time. We have to start winning huge hockey games and this is a huge hockey game."

The magnitude of the game was increased due to Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.

In that game the Oilers fell behind 2-0 early and couldn't recover despite getting a number of power-play opportunities towards the latter stages of the contest.

"This season has been as frustrating as season as I think our team has been a part of for a while," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We're good enough to create opportunities for ourselves, but when the opportunity arises, we haven't been good enough to capitalize on it. You work hard, you create opportunities, you get the opportunity and you fail. Then you have to go back to the grindstone and you have to create another opportunity for yourself.

'MISSED OPPORTUNITIES'

"So far this has been a season of missed opportunities. We're not playing terrible, but when you absolutely have to win a game, we haven't been able to do that."

In their four previous wins heading into last night's encounter the Oilers scored at least one power-play goal.

In their three losses, they have none.

"It's a result-based business," MacTavish said. "When you go 0-7 and give up two power-play goals, your power play is not an area of strength.

"You can take some consolation in the fact that we created a couple of chances in 14 minutes. But it's not good enough."

Going into tonight's game the Oilers were ranked 26th on the power play. The Sabres are 15th.

"I think it's going to be the biggest challenge all year," Sykora said. "They have a lot of good skaters. I think when you play a team like that, you have to play smart, keep them on the outside because with the new rules you have to really let them skate. You have to be in position to make them go through traffic all the time, that's the key to the game."


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