SUN Hockey Pool

Debacle in the past

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

In a long NHL season, they're not all going to be gems. But the key is to keep the stinkers down to a minimum.

On Wednesday the Edmonton Oilers put forth probably their worst effort of the season in a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Had it not been for the play of Dwayne Roloson in the first two periods and Mathieu Garon in the third, the score would have been a lot less flattering.

Tonight, they'll try to rebound hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

"You have to put that game behind you," said Oilers center Jarret Stoll. "If you dwell on things like that it's not going to help. We have to understand what we did wrong, fix it and try and learn from it. It's one of those things that you have to put behind you.

"It was one of those efforts that wasn't good at all and we weren't happy with it."

The Oilers - in particular their coaching staff - had reason to be upset.

The club was outshot 43-13 in the contest. They only managed three shots in the first period, and six in the second.

By the time they did mount a small comeback, the game was already out of reach and the fourth loss of the year to the Avalanche was a forgone conclusion.

"We just kept turning the puck over and over and over again," Stoll said. "When you do that, you end up playing most of the time in your zone and you end up giving them easy chances. It was just way too easy a game for them last night. Turnovers are something that plague us from time to time and when we're playing awful we're turning the puck over in the neutral zone."

The Oilers went into Wednesday's contest on a two-game win streak looking for their first three-win run of the season. The Avalanche, meanwhile, had lost four of their last five - their only win coming against the Oilers.

NEVER GOT OFF GROUND

However, Edmonton never got off the ground and were down 2-0 less than five minutes into the contest. Two more goals in the second - in an equally poor period - sealed their fate.

"The good part about this is that we're playing every other day," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "You think about the mistakes you made and the things you could have done better. But you have to put it behind you, come back and try to go back to the things you do well in the next game."

Having arrived in Denver the day before, the Oilers elected to not skate the morning of the game. It was a strategy that worked well the last time they were in Colorado, earning a point in a shootout loss. On Wednesday, however, the move backfired as the Oilers looked sluggish.

"It was pretty obvious that we didn't have the legs early and I take a lot of the blame for that," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We didn't skate in the morning and we should have skated in the morning. It worked well the last time, but it was a different cycle and we probably should have taken the guys over and had them skate. It would have a better effect on their legs, in hindsight."

IN HINDSIGHT ...

"I should have read that the practice we had (Tuesday) wasn't one that we wanted to sit on for any length of time because guys were tired and it was just a case of getting out there and getting the legs going," MacTavish added.

"I should have recognized that they needed to get sharper before the game and I should have brought them down for a morning skate."

The Oilers will skate this morning, having travelled home without a chance to practise since the loss.

Tonight's meeting is the second between the teams this year with the Oilers having won the first encounter in Anaheim, 3-2 in a shootout.

Sam Gagner scored the shootout winner with what is now his trademark move.

"The Ducks are a good, strong team that check very well," MacTavish said.

"Hopefully we can get them a little fatigued coming out of Calgary. It's going to be a tough test for us for sure."


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