SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers back to old selves

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Remember all that nice stuff everyone was saying about the Oilers after they beat Vancouver?

Disregard it.

And remember all the crud people were talking about them after they wet the bed against Calgary?

Rehash it.

Dr Jekyll slept in last night and Mr. Hyde blew another one as the on-again, off-again Oilers turned in one of their patented lukewarm efforts last night in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

The score flattered a team that was outshot xx-xx... by a team with one of the worst road records in the NHL... playing its fourth game of a four-game road trip.

There's only so many ways you can say "Ugh" and all 16,839 fans at Rexall Place used up all of them.

The only thing that looked worse than the Oilers was their Pay Per View telecast, which picked all three stars from the home team.

The game marked the merciful end of eight-in-a-row against Northwest Division opponents. The Oilers finished the stretch 3-4-1 and in the same place they started it - last.

The Avs, miserable on the road this season, and winless on the first three games of their four-game haul, but you'd never know it from the way they came out yesterday.

They were up 3-2 after 40 minutes, with Karlis Skrastins. Milan Hejduk and Mark Svatos doing the damage, but it could have, and probably should have, been much worse for Edmonton.

The Oilers were a mess in the second period, taking a slew of penalties, spending most of the period running around in their own end and mustering all of two shots, for a 40-minute total of nine. Colorado had 23.

Head coach Craig MacTavish warned his team the Avs would be desperate, but it didn't seem to register.

"You know the (Avs') situation, "he said. "And you know the character of the players over there."

Shawn Horcoff had a goal and an assist for four points in his last two games while Ales Hemsky also had a goal and an assist and also has four points in his last two games.

BACK IN STYLE - John-Michel Liles played close to 20 minutes, had an assist and was plus-one in his first game back being a healthy scratch last game.

"Nobody wants to miss a game," he said. "But if it's something that helps drive me a little bit harder, not that I haven't been trying to work as hard as possible, but sometimes the extra little jumpstart helps."

FINGER LICKING - Raffi Torres failed to end his scoring slump, which now stands at 15 games, but he did drop Colorado defenceman Jeff Finger in a scrap that was over so fast the referees didn't even see it and gave them minors for roughing.

DOWN IN FRONT - Ryan Smyth made himself at home in front of Edmonton's net, an intrusion Mathieu Garon fully expected. he didn't score, but he picked up an assist on Colorado's first goal of the game.

"I had a chance to play against him a lot in the past," said Garon. "He's one of the best in front of the net, tipping pucks and creating traffic. He's going to push you a little but not enough to get a penalty."

LATE HITS... Twenty-two games into the season, Tom Gilbert took his first penalty of the year, two minutes for tripping at 3:06 of the first period... How much of a prima donna can some players be? Check out Jose Theodore. He turned down all interview requests at the morning skate, hiding behind the lame excuse "I don't talk on game days." But Theodore wasn't even starting.


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