Oil's offensive nightmare

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Gentlemen, this is a net.

With his offence wandering their own personal desert, trapped in a bone-dry drought that's quickly turning a playoff spot into a mirage, head coach Craig MacTavish might want to sign the boys up for a class in remedial scoring.

Fast.

For the fourth time in five games, the Edmonton Oilers managed one goal (they scored two in the other). And for the fourth time in five nights, in case you hadn't guessed, they lost.

"We're not sustaining enough time in the opposition's end and it costs you over the course of a game," said lone Oilers scorer Marty Reasoner, after a 16-shot, 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks dropped Edmonton to 14th place in the Western Conference standings. "We've seen that over the last few weeks."

And again last night. When Corey Perry tied it 1-1 at 12:38 of the second period, Edmonton had six shots on net.

"We need to get to the net more and get some more dirty goals, that's the biggest thing for us," said Sam Gagner, who was moved up to the first line to fill in for an injured Ales Hemsky. "We have to make it a habit and the goals will come more and more."

Without Hemsky, the Oilers seemed lost offensively.

Mathieu Garon did what he could, but the only way he was winning this thing was 1-0.

"It's always tough when you lose one of your best players, but I think the guys who are playing have to step up and make a difference," said Garon. "And it seems like all the time we're making a little mistake late that costs us the game."

In too many games during this drought the Oilers have actually led, but tried to protect a one-goal lead rather than expand it to two goals. And it's backfired every time.

"It's happened to us before, sitting back on leads, playing the waiting game and I don't think it's worked yet," said Gagner, well aware that the best defence is a good offence. "We have to contine to push the envelope and try and create scoring chances every time we're on the ice.

"Maybe we need to push earlier to get that go ahead goal. If we're on the attack and we're in their offensive zone it's going to be tough for them to score on us. That's a thing we have to work on."

Afterwards, the Oilers were lamenting the defensive breakdowns that allowed Doug Weight to break open a 1-1 tie at 16:21 of the third period.

"I thought it was pretty much an even game,"said MacTavish. "But it's the same ting at the end where you're only behind in a game for three or four minutes, but it decides the game. We're not proud of the way we've executed in those crucial situations."

But when you only score once, you leave yourself vulnerable to losing on one mistake.

"You get an opportunity to widen that lead and we're not taking advantage of that," said the coach. "It's just developing a winning mentality."

"Right now we don't have that mindset to go and get that next goal," said Sheldon Souray. "Without those points in the shootouts we're pretty average."

Now the 16-19-3 Oilers will need a serious run if they're going to leapfrog six teams and bump somebody out of eighth.

It usually takes about 95 points to play in the post-season and they have 35 with 44 games left. In other words, they're going to need about 60 points out of their last 44 games (something in the neighborhood of 30-14).

LATE HITS: An MRI on Ales Hemsky's left knee revealed no structural damage, but the Oilers aren't sure whether the tissue damage will be healed enough for him to play in Minnesota tomorrow. Ethan Moreau, however, will be in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 21, 2006.


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