SUN Hockey Pool

'No pity party'

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When you've done what the Edmonton Oilers have done this miracle month of March, you don't dwell on a loss like the one here last night for long enough for the press elevator to take the trip down to event level.

"Shelved it right away," reported coach Craig MacTavish.

"There's no pity party in here tonight, nor do we deserve one. I don't question anybody's will to win or ability to go to the next game at this point."

When you've won 12 out of your previous 15 and five of the last six, scoring 3.9 goals per game during that stretch, a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild is not going to pop your balloon then and there.

Certainly the odds just got longer. But they're not longer now than that were a month ago, three weeks ago, two weeks ago or last week.

THREE POINTS BACK

The Oilers are still three points out of a playoff position - three points behind the Vancouver Canucks who lost 6-3 to the Colorado Avalanche last night.

Sure, Calgary, Nashville, Minnesota and Colorado all improved their playoff odds in the last 48 hours and the Oilers didn't. And with the Oilers in Colorado Friday night, you can figure out what another loss might do, maybe not just to Edmonton but to Vancouver, too. The Nashville Predators are lurking like vultures here, the only non Northwest Division team involved in what is otherwise a double round-robin tournament of division teams.

But with this few games to go, teams can win them all or lose them all and that's all believable now. It can happen.

And the last guy who has to sell his players on 'It can happen' at this point of proceedings is MacTavish.

"We need to beat Colorado in the next one and try to make that last game of the season in Vancouver mean something," said MacTavish.

"The improbability grows a little bit with the loss tonight," admitted the Oilers coach. "But we're a long way away from where we were before. These teams are so even and we're playing against each other all the way to the end of the season.

"It's like we're cannibalizing each other. These teams are all capable of going .500 against each other at this stage of the season, but obviously we can't go .500.

"And we need somebody else to go less than that.''

MacTavish, of course, was working as hard in the post-game interviews as he was behind the bench, trying to convince this team to get from this game to the next one like they have been doing for the entire last quarter of the season.

"They did a lot better of capitalizing on their chances," he said.

"We didn't have any puck luck. We hit posts two or three times. To have that many chances on the power play and to give up one the other way was not good for us tonight," he said.

Interim captain Steve Staios was working just as hard as reporters stopped at his stall in the dressing room.

"We just have to pick ourselves back up," he said.

"Our spirit is still up in here. This is no time for us to have our spirit go down. You can't allow yourself to get down after a game like that. The situation calls for us to go to the next game and raise our energy level.

"We need more energy and more battle. It's no time to get down and get frustrated," said the oldest skater in the line-up.

"There's no point in pouting at this point," said Sam Gagner, at 18 the youngest player in the league.

"It's a tough loss for us but we have to leave it behind us.

"Right after we got in this dressing room, we knew we had to turn the page and get on to the next one."

PISANI SCORED

Fernando Pisani, who scored the only Oilers goal of the game, did allow one thing though. The one difference between the next games and the last 16 this team has played is, "We definitely need to win the rest of our games now."

The bottom line here is that they've still got four games to go and this team features 16 of 20 players in the lineup last night who are 25-years-old or younger.

To me, they have earned the right to finish writing their amazing story in the final quarter of this season without being written off again until they are officially and mathematically eliminated.


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