SUN Hockey Pool

Err Canada Centre

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

TORONTO -- The comeback was not in the cards.

It rarely has been this season for the Edmonton Oilers.

Last night, the losing continued for the Oilers on their current road trip - a 4-3 setback at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

LOTS OF GAFFES

"We made quite a few mistakes tonight," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We've been making a number of mistakes. I thought they made a number of mistakes, too, and we had a few opportunities that we didn't capitalize on."

The Oilers were scored on first for the 23rd time this season as Mats Sundin netted his 24th of the year on the power-play in the opening frame.

John Pohl added another in the second to give the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead forcing the Oilers to climb another mountain. Once again it proved to be too large.

"We couldn't capitalize on our chances early and they did," said Oilers winger Ryan Smyth. "We were able to capitalize late in the game but it was too late then."

Smyth scored a late goal with just over a minute left to give the Oilers one last shot at salvaging the contest.

But as has been the case so often this season, they fell just short with the puck ending on top of the net at the final buzzer instead of in it.

"For the most part we worked hard, but we're not getting the end result," Smyth said. "At this stage of the game we've got to find the end result. We need points, just like these guys need points. They played more desperate than we did tonight."

CUTTING INTO LEAD

Steve Staios pulled one back to cut into the Leafs early lead. But Pohl restored the Maple Leafs two-goal advantage before Marc Pouliot scored on a penalty shot to make it a one-goal game going into the third period.

However, this season the Oilers have only rallied to win three out of the 26 times they've trailed going into the third period, while the Maple Leafs have only blown two third-period leads.

And as has been the case so often when attempting a comeback, they ran into a hot goaltender in Andrew Raycroft.

The Leafs 'tender made 32 saves on the night, 12 in the third period and none bigger than the one on Shawn Horcoff with two seconds left in the game.

"You suspect when you're down 3-2 going into the third period and you give up another goal to go down 4-2, you're going to get the third one just to make it hurt a little bit more," MacTavish said. "We had a chance at the end, but Raycroft made a great save on Horc to preserve the victory."

On a night when the Leafs paid tribute to their last Stanley Cup champions, chances are it's the Oilers playoff hopes that could be history.

With a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators last night, the Minnesota Wild moved eight points up on the Oilers in the standings.

The Oilers have lost the first three games of their seven-game road trip, salvaging a point in an OT loss in Buffalo. With remaining stops in Ottawa, Detroit, Columbus and Minnesota things won't get any easier.

"I think you have to be resilient enough to work through it," MacTavish said.

"Frustration is not a result that helps you very often during the course of the game or post-game.

"You have to address the shortcomings and try to shore those up and try to reduce the mistakes. I thought virtually every goal was preventable from our perspective. The mistakes that we make takes our goaltender out of the equation."


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