Oil's first step a misstep

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

They say even the longest journey begins with the first step. Unfortunately for the Edmonton Oilers, the first step in their seemingly impossible journey to a playoff spot was right off the edge of a cliff.

Nothing like kicking off the stretch drive with a face plant.

It was only 3-0 San Jose, but the Oilers belonged in this game like John Daly belongs in a Speedo.

With the organization wondering how many fans were going to brave the treacherous roads and blistering cold last night, they should have been more concerned with how many of their players would bother showing up.

It wasn't many.

If any.

They could have used some of those tow trucks they had idling in the parking lots at Rexall Place to boost the Oilers, who showed all the jump of a 1978 Dodge Dart that hadn't been plugged in all winter.

And 16,839 die hards had to be wondering why on earth they bothered freezing their backsides off to watch these guys on one of the coldest nights in years.

They deserved better.

The 13th place Oilers have been speaking all week about putting together a string of victories that will bring them back into the heat of the playoff chase. Five, maybe six wins in a row, they figure, will be enough to get them close.

At times last night they didn't look capable of putting together five or six good shifts, let alone five or six good games.

They had two shots through the first 15 minutes.

They were outshot 31-9 after 40 minutes.

It was 39-13 after 60.

And you could just hear the eighth place Colorado Avalanche shaking in their skates.

The Sharks, who came into the game with one of the NHL's best road records (16-4-3) were a tall order, and it showed early on.

The Oilers couldn't handle San Jose's relentless forecheck and spent the entire night hemmed up in their own end, unable to launch anything even resembling pressure of their own.

It was only a matter of time before San Jose got to Mathieu Garon, and after outshooting Edmonton 15-5 in a scoreless first, Joe Pavelski made it 1-0 on a reboudn at 11:48.

If anyone thought the goal would light a fire under Edmonton, they were wrong. They didn't get their third shot of the second period until the 18:09 mark, at which point it was 28-8 Sharks.

From there, it was just a question of whether or not San Jose would make it to 30 shots before the second intermission.

They did, when Mike Grier ripped a bullet over Mathieu Garon's shoulder at 19:14.

The Sharks put it in cruise control in the third period, making it 3-0 on Patrick Rissmiller's empty netter in the final minute. Edmonton's third period rally consisted of five shots.

Garon turned in a heroic effort, but it went entirely wasted by a team that wasn't anywhere near as a hungry as he was.

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