Killee instinct

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

When they spend $3.5 million to build you one of the most marvelous dressing rooms in hockey and, for that matter, all of sports, the least you could do is win games at home.

Twenty home games into the season, and the Edmonton Oilers have only won eight of 'em.

Five have been in shootouts.

The only sure thing at home had been the Anaheim Ducks. And now that's gone.

The Oilers hadn't lost a regular season game at home in regulation to the Ducks since 1999 until last night.

Edmonton had won 14 of the last 15 at home against Anaheim, the only loss being last year in overtime.

NILSSON TAKES HORNS

This time Robert Nilsson took his turn to wear the goat horns at 16:21 of the third period to give the Ducks a 2-1 win and the Oilers a third straight loss at home before the 92nd consecutive regular season sellout crowd at Rexall Place.

When the Oilers come to making new year's resolutions, maybe they could start with doing something about their home record.

Okay. It'll be a long list of resolutions this year.

- Get out of 30th place in the powerplay statistics.

- Finish some checks. Make some hits. Become a tougher team.

- Close the back door on all those cheap weak side goals.

- Win more games than you lose against Northwest Division opponents.

It goes on and on. But winning games at home has to rank right up there.

"It's the thing that's keeping us out of the mix," said coach Craig MacTavish of a run of losses which have dropped the Oilers back out of contention for a playoff position in the standings.

"A lot of losses at home were coming as a result of second period letdowns. But in recent games, it's happened to us late."

He listed the loss to Pittsburgh, New Jersey and now Anaheim.

"Mistakes in execution cost us another hockey game," said MacTavish, conceding that Nilsson "stopped skating with Doug Weight" the ex-Oiler who scored the winner.

"Robert didn't have his legs in the game as we all saw. He has to look at what he's done in the last couple days," he said of the Christmas break.

"You can't put yourself or your team in that situation. It's a painful lesson."

With Ladislav Smid just back from being pulled from the lineup the other night in Chicago after being a goat at home, the lessons learned by the youth on this team are getting expensive.

"We're really in an era now where the little things mean a lot, maybe more than ever before in the history of hockey.

"One more play in a lot of games and we'd be three games over .500," said MacTavish. "Win three or four more games at home and we'd have a more palatable record instead of something less than that."

Sheldon Souray, one of the few Oilers who hung around the main area of the palatial new dressing room, laughed at the idea that the new digs have somehow turned them into a country club outfit.

"We all have nice cars and nice homes," he said.

FANCY SKATING

It's not the fancy digs, he said, but the fancy skating they do when they leave it.

"I think we're trying to hard to put on a show. On the road we're not trying to put on a show and we're a little more desperate.

"At the end of the day it's the two points.

"We can't turn the puck over at critical times. Our fans aren't going to complain if we win ugly.

"They'll be happier with that than putting on a show and losing 4-2.

"We have to start playing with more sandpaper and not be trying to make all those fancy plays.

"We have to start winning battles. You don't have to have Georges Laraque to win battles. We need to start busting our butts from the blueline in when we have a 1-0 lead. We don't seem to have the confidence to go out and get that next goal."

It's called killer instinct. Right now the Oilers have killee instinct.


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