When a team is struggling to score, missed opportunities are magnified.
They stand out, are pined over and often bring about restless nights.
Therefore one has to wonder how well Robert Nilsson slept on Saturday after being denied a sure goal against the Calgary Flames.
It was a goal that would have put the Oilers back in the contest, would have given them a chance, and perhaps would have salvaged, what had been to that point, an awful night.
"I don't know how that didn't go in," Nilsson said still in disbelief following the game. "I couldn't believe it hit his stick. It was just bad luck."
DOWN AND OUT
With Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff down and out, the Oilers forward got hold of a loose puck in front and fired it towards the open net, only to see it bounce off the shaft of Rhett Warrener's stick and over the net.
Warrener, who was in a battle for position in front, didn't even know the puck was there. It just happened to bounce off his stick, preventing a sure goal, and cut the Flames lead in half.
Raffi Torres then fired a shot that beat Kiprusoff, but bounced off the post and out the other side of the net behind the Flames goalie.
That would have tied it.
"I think when you try to force three goals in 10 minutes of the last period, that's a problem in itself," said Andrew Cogliano, the only Oiler able to beat Kiprusoff in a 3-1 loss. "We gave up way too much in the first and second periods when we had about six shots and that's the problem when you're trying to push late and push for a goal when they're always hemming you down."
Granted the Flames had a number of glorious opportunities of their own.
But because they created more chances throughout the contest the missed opportunities didn't stand out as much.
The Oilers could only point to a handful.
Therein lies the problem with Saturday's contest. The Oilers didn't play desperate enough hockey until they were two goals down in the third period.
Up to that point they barely generated any shots much less chances.
"We had energy, they were just clogging up the neutral zone and I think we were trying to depend too much on our rushing and breaking through their trap and it was just not working," Cogliano said. "We have to get the puck down deep, cycle, use our body and try to get the puck to the net. We were depending too much on the rush, trying to get two-on-ones and that's not going to work."
It wasn't until the third period the Oilers started throwing pucks at the net, getting bodies in front and creating opportunities.
Yesterday the club took the day off in an effort to regroup. They'll be back on the ice today in preparation for tomorrow's encounter with the Vancouver Canucks.
"Guys just have to find a way to get the puck in the back of the net," Cogliano said. "First and foremost you have to get shots to the net, go to the net. My goal I just got a fluky bounce and I just tried to bank if off the goalie. If you get the pucks to the net, that just shows that anything can go in."
Unfortunately for the Oilers they're having trouble getting anything to go in. They have the second-worst goals against in the league. They only have two players who have at least five goals this season.
They're the last team that needs bad bounces around the net.
"You can't really explain that (Nilsson's chance), you get the puck up, you shoot it where you're supposed to," said Oilers forward Jarret Stoll. "It was one of those unlucky breaks. It was unfortunate on our part, but we didn't generate enough to be in the game anyway."