Oil still shootin' blanks

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

What do the Edmonton Oilers expect when they score a grand total of two goals in two games?

Back to back wins?

After going scoreless for 65 minutes in Vancouver and still managing to steal two points, the Oilers brought their hands of stone to Rexall Place last night -- with much more predictable results.

"Let's be honest, we're lacking efficiency around the net, there's no question," said head coach Craig MacTavish, after his club had nothing but a 4-2 loss to show for the 40 shots they directed at Minnesota goalies Nicklas Backstrom and Josh Harding.

"That's almost a consistent when we're analzying what happened after the losses. We had lots of opportunities, lots of shots, and at the end of the day we're not getting enough to show for it."

This time their goaltender didn't stand on his head and steal them one, like Mathieu Garon did in Wednesday's shootout victory over the Canucks.

But you can't hang last night's defeat entirely on Dwayne Roloson.

In fairness to the 38-year-old 'keeper, he couldn't see two of the Minnesota goals, Marian Gaborik was left all alone at the back door on another and he didn't have much chance on Mark Parrish's bullet off an odd-man rush.

Still, nobody likes losing, and Roloson is now 3-9-1. He hasn't posted a victory since Oct. 25.

"I have to make some saves to give our guys a chance to win," he said afterward. "It doesn't matter if they're screened or deflected, I still have to do whatever I have to do to stop the puck."

While he didn't let in any bad ones, he didn't stand on his head, either.

"It's our job to do that, tonight I didn't," he said, adding he's been fighting it a bit lately. "I'm trying to force myself to make a save, I have to relax and let the puck come to me. I'm not reading the play as well as I normally do."

MacTavish has a team that has to rely on its goaltender, so expect him to go with the hot hand from here on in. And right now, it ain't Roloson.

"We can't win right now with average goaltending, I don't think there's many teams that can, and in my estimation tonight he was average," said the coach.

"He's not playing at the level that he has played. That's obvious. But the one thing he's got going for him is a bunch of mental toughness and a bunch of battle."

Roloson, of course, was the MVP in Edmonton's Stanley Cup drive two years ago, so it pains MacTavish to call him out like this. But the Oilers can't afford to fall any farther behind the playoff pack.

"For me to stand here and say his performance is average is difficult because we owe him a lot," said MacTavish. "At the same time, we're all in the here and now and we need him to be better."

Same goes for the forwards. A little run support would make everyone's life easier.

"We have to find ways to score, get the puck in the back of the net," said centre Jarret Stoll, who scored both Edmonton goals, one of them on a ghastly Backstrom whiff that got him the hook after 40 minutes.

"We have to bear down a little bit more, get second opportunities, screens. You're not going to snipe it from 30- 40 feet out all the time. You have to get dirty, get some garbage goals."

LATE HITS: Kyle Brodziak tweaked a knee last night and might be iffy for tomorrow's game. If he can't go, Liam Reddox will draw in.


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