It hadn't been all smoke and mirrors, but there was some wizardry involved in the Edmonton Oilers' most recent win streak.
Last night, however, Mathieu Garon was unable to pull the rabbit out of the hat, looking less than spectacular in a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Ironically, it was a night where the Oilers didn't need their goaltender to steal the game, out-shooting the Predators 30-24 in the contest.
"I just couldn't make the key saves tonight to make the difference," Garon said. "We didn't have a good start and gave up too many early goals. After that, it makes it difficult to win."
Garon, who has been solid this season, went into the contest with a 23-16-1 record, a 2.55 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Yet there's something about the Predators. The last time the Oilers faced Nashville, Garon gave up five goals, including a soft winner with less than two minutes left in the contest.
Last night he gave up a goal on the first shot he faced as J.P. Dumont wired one over his shoulder.
Martin Erat then scored on the Preds' third shot, banking the puck in off Steve Staios. Before the end of the period, Erat scored another, with a long slapper from the point.
"I thought Dumont's first was a good shot," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Erat's first was kicked in by Stevie and Erat's second was screened by Sandy (Geoff Sanderson). I changed the goalie, giving a chance for Roli (Dwayne Roloson) to get in and maybe change the momentum by changing the goalie.
"But I didn't think you could fault him (Garon) on the one that went off Stevie's foot or the one that he was screened on by Sandy."
Roloson started the second period for the Oilers but didn't fare much better.
The Oilers goaltender, who'd been collecting cobwebs on the bench, not having started a game since Feb. 1, gave up a goal on the second shot he faced, as Erat netted his third, banging in a rebound in front. The goal gave the winger his first-career hat trick.
"The score was disappointing after the first period, but at that point I still felt that we could play ourselves back in this hockey game," MacTavish said. "In this homestand we've had a lot worse first periods and have had a lot better results. But it seemed like everything in front was getting funnelled into the net."
Tom Gilbert temporarily stopped the bleeding later in the second, scoring a team-record 10th goal - the most by an Oilers rookie defenceman.
But Ville Koistinen restored the Preds' four-goal lead, blowing a shot past Roloson on an odd-man rush, squashing any hopes of a comeback.
"I think this was kind of a wakeup call for us," said Oilers forward Kyle Brodziak. "We know we haven't been playing that great as of late, but we've managed to get away with it."
The loss was the first on home-ice for the Oilers in eight games and snapped a four-game winning streak. However, they haven't been able to beat the Predators in two seasons.
"They're aggressive on the forecheck and with the new rules where you can't hold up, they're going in, taking a run at our defence and creating turnovers," said Roloson.