The mourning after

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

On a night the Edmonton Oilers honoured a native son, they appeared to be mourning the loss of another 12-year cornerstone player.

With Ryan Smyth dealt to the New York Islanders just hours before game time last night, the Oilers sucked the life out of a packed Rexall Place with a very lackluster effort in a 3-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

"We were just terrible out there," said Oilers forward Fernando Pisani, who opened the game in Ryan Smyth's typical left wing spot beside Shawn Horcoff.

"Obviously (Smyth) is a big part of our team.

"At the same time we have to be ready to play and we weren't ready to play.

"We didn't have any emotion, no jump, no energy."

STIRRING CEREMONY

After a stirring 40-minute ceremony to honour Mark Messier on his banner-raising night, Joffrey Lupul thought the Oilers would come out with the fire in their eyes that head coach Craig MacTavish had pleaded for.

Instead, they played with little inspiration, getting out shot 10-2 in the opening period and trailing 1-0.

"The ceremony was unbelievable and inspirational," said Lupul.

"And then to come out and play the way we did - to be out shot that bad by that team, there is no excuse.

"(Smyth) is a great player.

"We wish him the best, but we have got to realize that we still have to come out and play a hockey game.

"Phoenix lost how many guys today? They came out and played a good game."

Pleased with his team's effort, Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky put everything in perspective.

"Obviously (the Oilers) were a team that was very emotional tonight," said Gretzky.

"(The day) was tougher for their team than our team."

Burned once in the opening stanza by the 28th-ranked power play in the NHL, unknown Yanick Lehoux scored his first of the season on another man advantage early in the second period.

INSULT TO INJURY

To add insult to injury Steven Reinprecht practically walked around Jan Hejda before putting the puck through Dwayne Roloson's legs to make it 3-0 - which led to the fans mourning Smyth.

Chanting "Smitty, Smitty", the crowd finally had something to cheer about when J.F. Jacques scored a knockout on Nick Boynton in a late second period fight.

But there were no offensive fireworks.

"You can't use (Smyth's absence) as an excuse," said Oilers forward Marty Reasoner.

"It is up to us as individuals to be professional about it and come to play.

"It was a pretty embarrassing effort we put forth tonight."

MacTavish declined to give any comments on Smyth's trade in his post-game media conference, deferring to later this morning.

But with his team still nine points behind Calgary for the final playoff spot, MacTavish is going to rally his troops again today.

"We are going to regroup in here (today)," said MacTavish.

"I am going to wipe the slate clean in here and get back to work."

The Oilers will face Minnesota tomorrow in the second of four straight games at home.


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