SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers go downhill

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

DENVER -- The Edmonton Oilers have ridden the kids to the point where they started to convince themselves a playoff berth was possible.

But last night they were brought back to reality and the kids exposed for what they are - young and inexperienced.

The Oilers gave up four second-period goals on their way to a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

The loss was a huge setback for the Oilers who had come in having won seven of their last eight and three straight.

But the magic seem to go the way of Andrew Cogliano's stick which was requested by the Hockey Hall of Fame prior to last night's game.

Cogliano had used the stick to score three consecutive winners - an NHL first. And his new weapon of choice wasn't as potent.

But Cogliano was not the only one to blame for the Oilers problems on the night.

Sam Gagner, 18, was eventually burnt on his third turnover of the of the first period.

The Oilers rookie had twice thrown the puck back in his zone, resulting in Avalanche opportunities. Then with just over a minute left in the frame, Gagner attempted a drop pass at centre, which the Avalanche took the other way resulting in Jeff Finger's goal.

The Avalanche defenceman came close to making it 2-0 seconds later ringing a shot of the post.

In the second Ladislav Smid gave the puck away 18 seconds in, setting up Jaroslav Hlinka.

The Avalanche forward took the gift and snapped a shot over the shoulder of Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon.

Combined with Tyler Arnason's goal - who for all intents and purposes could have been put on the board prior to the game because he always scores against the Oilers - the Avalanche built a comfortable three-goal lead.

That proved to be all for Garon who was pulled shortly after the goal making way for Dwayne Roloson.

Gagner did pull one back, atoning for his giveaway, picking up Ales Hemsky's spoils on the power play later in the period.

But a roughing penalty to Smid allowed David Jones to collect his second goal of the season.

That's how bad the Avalanche's power play has been of late that they send out a fourth-line call up to try and improve their fortunes.

It worked, however, as Jones converted a cross-crease pass from Andrew Brunette and was able to lift his shot over the shoulder of Roloson.

It was the second power-play marker for the Avalanche who came into the game with the worst ranking in the league.

Before the end of the period Wojtek Wolski split the defensive pairing of Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov and was found with a breakaway pass by Ian Laperriere.

Wolski went in and put an outstanding move on Roloson to extend the Avalanche's lead.

Heading into the contest the Oilers were nine points back of the Avalanche who occupied sixth spot in the Western Conference standings. Now with the gap at 11, the Oilers can cross out Colorado as one of the teams with a chance to catch.

They could take some solace in the fact that their other Northwest Division rivals stumbled on the night. But with two games left on this road trip, another loss would surely put a nail in any playoff aspirations.


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