Maddening scenario

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers had the mad part down. They played like they were mad as hell.

But they couldn't get even in a nasty piece of business last night at GM (which seemed to stand for Get Mad) Place.

And both teams were.

With neither side having room in its budget to afford a loss, the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks dragged things into the alley in a fight filled, penalty filled war of attrition, which the Canucks hung on to win 4-2.

"Both teams realized how important the game was and quite clearly, from the outset, it was going to be a physical game, and that's the way it ended, I was fine with that," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "It's just hard-nosed hockey, those things happen. I'm not going to apologize for it."

By the 21-second mark of the first period there were already seven guys in the penalty box and by the end of the night the game had run the gamut from tough to mean to downright vicious.

"That's what a game boils down to when the points are that big," said Greene. "It was just two teams not willing to give up, not willing to give an inch. I think it's good. You'd rather have it settled like that than with slashing and dirty hits."

There were bad intentions all over the place. By the first intermission. Ryan Kesler, who seconds earlier tried to run Ales Hemsky through the boards, was spitting blood after eating a hard Greene elbow. Taylor Pyatt left with a shoulder injury, courtesy of a Zack Stortini hit. One of the Sedins ran Mathieu Garon, Matt Cooke cheap shotted Mathieu Roy from behind and all the Canucks took turns abusing Hemsky.

The cruelest cut of all, though, came when Daniel Sedin, who's broken Edmonton's heart many times before, broke open a 2-2 game with a pretty little goal at 7:45 of the third, from which the Oilers never recovered.

But they showed enough grit and spirit in the defeat to make one think twice about their chances of crawling back into the playoff hunt.

"The first thing I said after the game is that we probably needed that game two months ago," said MacTavish. "I liked a lot of things about the game. I liked the way we stood together. I didn't like the result, obviously, but that's hockey, they played hard too."

Alex Burrows added an empty netter, and the final 39.9 seconds took about 20 minutes to play for all the fighting the followed. Kesler and Sam Gagner. Greene and Trevor Linden. Curtis Glencross and Mike Weaver. Kyle Brodziak and Willie Mitchell.

"You have to take value in games like this," said Greene. "We've said it a few times this year - we play like that we're going to get points more often than not. We just have to make a commitment to do that.

"It's good to see efforts like that. It proves that everybody in this room wants to win. Sam Gagner dropping the gloves, that just shows you right there, that's a hockey player, a guy who wants to win and will do anything for his team.

"That's inspiring for everyone on our team. That's awesome, It shows what this team and these guys can do if we really get our heart set on it."

They could have used the points, but the Oilers saw enough in the loss to think they're a long way from dead.

"Everybody battled for each other and stuck together," said Jarret Stoll.


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