MacTavish sees silver lining

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Yesterday the Edmonton Oilers were still trying to come to grips with the collapse in Minnesota on Saturday.

The Oilers blew a three-goal lead en route to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Wild.

They also lost the services of Joni Pitkanen, who was sent into the boards head-first, while Fernando Pisani took a shot off his skate and Shawn Horcoff took a puck in the head.

Even head trainer Ken Lowe took a spill and suffered a cut.

"At the end of the day, I think the positives far out-weigh the negatives in the game," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We tried to protect the lead and in a game like that, what happens is that they commit four and five guys to your net and you're going to get man-advantage opportunities and we did.

"We just weren't able to capitalize on those and that's the difference."

Saturday's game marked the fourth consecutive time the Oilers were unable to hold a lead. Yet despite their latest lost, there were plenty of positives for the team to take heading into today's contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For starters, the Oilers scored a power-play goal. They also scored two short-handed, and netted four goals for the first time in six games.

Captain Ethan Moreau made his season debut after missing 113 regular-season games due to injury. Jarret Stoll snapped a 20-game scoring slump and Andrew Cogliano scored for the first time in 13 games.

"We had two real good, solid periods. Then we got into a little bit of a three-line game for us and I think we got fatigued a little bit at the end," MacTavish said.

"We were in the right spots on the goals, but we have to be a little stronger in the areas in the front of the net.

"Ethan gave us a good physical boost, a good psychological boost, took the puck to the net, got nice pressure on the penalty-kill, made some plays, brought the intensity up and I really think it did have a positive effect for everybody."

The game was the first of a four-stop road trip for the Oilers. Following today's contest, they'll travel to St. Louis to face the Blues then finish off with a game against the Nashville Predators.

"To finally be able to captain this team was a huge honour," Moreau said. "It was fun. I knew that it was going to be a pretty big day for me so I did a lot of preparations earlier in the week.

"I don't play well when I'm too excited. I tend to take three penalties on my first three shifts. I just tried to calm myself down and the guys really helped. We came out and played really well in the first period."

Moreau played on a line with Pisani and Cogliano, who scored the Oilers second goal against the Wild. The Edmonton rookie hadn't scored since Dec. 2.

"For the most part he (Moreau) forces you to play hard," said Cogliano. "He works hard and battles and I think that's why I think I played a pretty good game.

"It's a good opportunity for me to play with the captain and play with a veteran like Fernando. It's something special for a young guy like me."

MacTavish was impressed with the unit and if Pisani is able to go tonight after taking a puck off his right ankle, they'll be together against the Blue Jackets.

Pitkanen probably won't be able to play.

"Cogliano was good," MacTavish said. "He worked really hard and he's going to be able to get to a lot of pucks for those guys. Conceivably that line is going to be able to produce and I'm really encouraged by what I've seen out of that line in their first game."


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