SUN Hockey Pool

'Surreal' for Sanderson

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

For Geoff Sanderson, things couldn't have gone much worse.

The Edmonton Oilers winger saw the Nashville Predators score a goal on each of his first three shifts Tuesday in a 5-1 loss.

He only got one more in the contest before he was sat in what head coach Craig MacTavish called "a mercy benching."

"It was very surreal; I don't think I've seen anyone go through anything like that," Sanderson said. "That was definitely a first."

It's not as though Sanderson could be blamed directly for the Oilers' woes that night.

TWO-ON-ONE

He wasn't the one who got caught pinching at the Predators blue-line, setting up the two-on-one rush that led to the first goal.

He wasn't the one who kicked the puck into his own net past goaltender Mathieu Garon for the second goal.

And it wasn't his guy whose long slapper from the point found it's way into the net - although Sanderson did get blamed for partially screening Garon.

"That doesn't matter (if you're not directly responsible), you do worry about it, because you're part of the reason the team loss," Sanderson said. "It is a matter of concern because you were on the ice. It doesn't matter really whose fault, all that matters is that they scored."

Perhaps. But up to that point, Sanderson had been playing well for the Oilers.

The veteran had two points in his previous three games heading into Tuesday's contest, which included a great goal in a shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

So far this season Sanderson has three goals and 10 assists in 39 games for the Oilers.

But he's been hampered by a back injury which has limited his effectiveness and forced the Oilers to call up Marc Pouliot from the minors.

'DAY TO DAY'

"It's kind of day to day, really," Sanderson said. "Some days I feel good, other days it's been a bit of an issue. Lately it's been OK and I'm trying to take care of it. It's a maintenance thing. I have to make sure I'm not doing anything unless I'm completely warmed up and am ready to do exercise."

Like the rest of the team, Sanderson took the loss to the Predators hard. It killed all the momentum they had built up to that point and knocked them further away from a playoff spot, with time running out.

"As big as our last game was, our next one is even bigger," Sanderson said.

"Obviously we have to put that loss behind us and start focusing on what we have to do against Columbus and Chicago.

"That's the one good thing about hockey, there's always a next game and these ones are critical right now.

"I think our focus right now is our first shift against Columbus and that's how narrow it is right now.


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