Oilers walking wounded

Edmonton Oilers' Jan Hejda is injured after taking a hit against the Tampa Bay Lighting during...

Edmonton Oilers' Jan Hejda is injured after taking a hit against the Tampa Bay Lighting during second period action at Rexall Place on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers' survival rate lately is about the same as amorous camp counsellors in a Friday the 13th sequel.

Not good.

One by one they've been snuffed out of the lineup - Ales Hemsky, Jarret Stoll, Tom Gilbert, Mathieu Roy, Petr Nedved, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Marty Reasoner and Ethan Moreau - until the roster was a bloody mess.

And just when you looked at the Edmonton Road Runners last night and thought it couldn't possibly get any worse.

Thwack. Down goes Steve Staios.

And splat. Down goes Jan Hejda.

Add to that the troubling fact the Edmonton hasn't won a game and only scored in three of the 12 periods since Ryan Smyth left, and you can probably imagine what it was like in the dressing room after last night's 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It's unreal," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "We've got our spider sense up for the legitimacy of it, and everything we have is legitimate, there's nobody pulling the chute. It's a weird situation that I haven't seen before. That's the best way to describe it."

Staios left in the first period when his left knee gave out and Hejda was gone in the second, carrying his limp left arm in his right hand after popping out his shoulder. With Gilbert, Roy, and Danny Syvret already called up, Edmonton only has one defenceman left in the system - Wilkes-Barre rookie Bryan Young.

"We're totally running out of bodies," said MacTavish. "We don't have any defencemen left. We've got Bryan Young, who will be called up. Outside of that, maybe a junior."

The remaining sweat-soaked defenceman don't know what to make of it.

"When it rains it pours," said Matt Greene.

"It's part of the game, I just never expected to see it at this magnitude. You just have to keep your shifts short and conserve energy because you know that once you come off, you're right back out there again."

Jason Smith, who averages 20 minutes a game, played 28.

"I don't think I've gone through a stretch on a team where we've had this many guys go down in this short a stretch in a lot of years, or maybe in my career," said Smith.

But, hey, it's better to be tired than hurt.

"I'm still standing, so I guess that's a positive," he said.

Ladislav Smid, who averaged 18, played 24:30.

"I'm looking around like, what happened," he said. "Janny goes down, Stevie goes down. That's a bad situation when you have to play 40 minutes with only four defencemen."

Especially when six of your 12 forwards have done time in the AHL this season. The Oilers put up a decent fight, considering, but still lost, for the fifth game in a row.

"I don't think anybody is looking for moral victories," said MacTavish. "It's another frustrating evening. A difficult time."

Tampa scored twice in the second period - one-timers from the slot off the sticks of Vaclav Prospal and Vincent Lecavalier - and that was all they needed.

Smid scored one late to set up a dramatic finish, but the drama lasted all of a minute before Lecavalier slid one into the empty net.


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