SUN Hockey Pool

Same old, getting old

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Craig MacTavish loves to use the expression, "When you're in a hole, stop digging."

So why do the Edmonton Oilers begin every game with mining helmets on?

For the fourth straight game, all of them losses, the Oilers spotted the other team a lead and spent the rest of the evening in a fruitless effort to undo the damage.

The Vancouver Canucks went up 1-0 after 20 minutes and 3-0 after 35 and coasted to an easy 4-1 victory to sweep the home-and-home series and erase all of the positive vibrations Edmonton generated with those first two wins of the season.

"We talked about it, we even touched on it going into these last two games,'' centre Shawn Horcoff said of falling behind.

"It makes a big difference. When we were down 1-0 in the first 10 minutes of the second period it looked like we were taking it over, but we couldn't get that one goal.

"Then we take a couple of penalties, they take advantage and that was pretty much the game right there."

The Oilers have given up the first goal in five of six starts this season, been outscored 15-7 through the first two periods and managed five goals in their four losses.

Throw in a power play that has one goal in six games (one-for-36) and you can see why they're always neck deep in dirt by the third period.

"It's been a popular mantra in here between periods that we're not playing all that badly but we're always on the wrong side of the score," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"It was a good a first period as we've had in here, territorially, in a while. And we get two power plays in the last six minutes of the first and we end up 1-0 down. That was a sign of things to come ... a very disappointing evening for our team."

It also doesn't help that for the fourth straight game, the other team's elite players, in this case Daniel and Henrik Sedin (who combined for three goals and five points) were simply way better than Edmonton's.

"They get a lot of points," sighed Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray.

"They're good offensive guys on special teams and that's where they got a couple of their goals tonight.

"The first period was pretty good - we were managing them - then the special teams starts creeping into it. They score a couple of goals and we're behind the 8-ball, big time."

The Oilers also make a lot of goalies look like Roberto Luongo, so you can imagine how it went when they actually ran into Roberto Luongo.

Badly.

They generated shots, but created little traffic in front of Luongo, to predictable results.

"The bigger problem was the guy in the net at the other end," said MacTavish.

"We didn't have an answer for him. We had bodies in front but he was still seeing it."

Brendan Morrison made it 1-0 when Matt Greene left him alone in front of the net, with enough time and space to put in his own rebound. They fell behind 2-0 midway through the second after Vancouver hemmed them in their own zone for what seemd like an eternity and made it 3-0 just 2:18 later after Greene accidentally dumped Roloson in the crease.

By then, it was over.

"We just couldn't find some pucks in the slot and the crease area," said Jarret Stoll, adding the Oilers can't seem to maintain offensive flow.

"We have it sometimes, and then we lose it. We have to keep it consistent, we lose momentum too easily out there."

Oilers scoring leader Andrew Cogliano's shorthanded goal in the third period was one of the few bright spots.


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