SUN Hockey Pool

Copper really feeling blue

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

This latest loss was a tough one to swallow.

Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish is a proponent of not getting too high after victories or too low following defeats. But even he was struggling to pick his bottom lip off the floor yesterday.

"We're hoping to practise what we preach," MacTavish said. "It was a disappointing game and sometimes it takes a couple of days to shake a game like that.

"We're in the transitional period right now of trying to shake off that feeling, because we played OK and gave ourselves an opportunity, but we weren't able to capitalize on the opportunity.

"We all know the situation with the season winding down that those opportunities are going to be few and far between now."

DERAILED MOMENTUM

The 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday derailed all the momentum the Oilers had built up to that point. They were riding a four-game winning streak, were above the .500 mark for the first time since the first week of the season and were in the process of reviving faint playoff hopes.

Yet due to the loss, they woke up nine points back of a playoff spot, with five teams left to leapfrog and 15 games on the schedule.

"Had they beaten the Predators, the Oilers would have woken up five points back.

"It's disappointing, but you have to have some mental toughness, suck it up, put your gear on and go out there and practise," MacTavish said.

"The loss was tough to swallow, but those games happen.

"We had a game like that against Phoenix in here where everything we shot went in the net and we beat them pretty handily despite the play being pretty even.

"Those games do happen, but it was bad timing for us to have it happen."

TWO-GAME ROADIE

The Oilers will now embark on a two-game road trip through Columbus and Chicago before returning home to host St. Louis.

Following that they'll go out on a three-game trip through Colorado, Phoenix and San Jose.

"It's a situation that we wanted to be in where those games matter against teams that we can catch," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios, who chaired a short players' only state-of-the-union address after practice.

"We dropped one against a team that's ahead of us, but that's behind us and we have more opportunities on the schedule to do that again.

"Hopefully we learn from this experience and hopefully it sinks in quickly enough where if we do have this opportunity again we can take advantage of it."


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