Oilers' comeback falls short

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Pens against boys, it was.

And not just regular boys, either. For about 38 minutes last night, the Oilers looked like frail, pasty-faced boys who don't like gym, are covered in dodgeball welts and can't bounce a basketball twice without hitting their foot.

It was ugly from the word go, which the visitors apparently never heard last night, falling behind 5-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins before putting some third-period lipstick on an inexplicable 5-4 pig.

"The reality of it is we weren't able to withstand the push in the second period," said bewildered head coach Craig MacTavish. "Every team goes through that in the course of a game but you can't end up giving up two and three goals when it happens.

"Those are areas that should be protected. We were bad in front of our net last game against Columbus and it cost us and we were watching again tonight.

"And then with 11 minutes left in the third period we're in a one-goal hockey game! Great resilience by our team to get ourselves back in the game like that."

With the Pens up 5-0 late in the second, the rest of the game wasn't supposed to matter much - at least that's what they thought.

But Fernando Pisani broke the shutout at 18:33 of the second period, then Tom Gilbert scored at 2:57 of the third, then Ales Hemsky scored 28 seconds after that, then Sheldon Souray screamed out of the penalty box to make it 5-4 at 8:59 and suddenly the worst beat-down in recent memory was turning into one of the greatest comebacks in team history.

"It wasn't a 5-0 game," said captain Ethan Moreau, defending their overall performance in the first 40 minutes. "We were getting some chances in the first two periods, we just weren't captitalizing at the same rate they were, obviously.

"We did a lot of things well, we're just having trouble in front of our net. We were playing against some pretty good players, and they played pretty well tonight, but it definitely shouldn't have been 5-0."

A last-ditch shot with less than a second left came up short. Nice try, but the third period doesn't erase the first two.

"We made a lot of mistakes in front of our net," said Sheldon Souray. "We just weren't hard enough, not hungry enough. And that's what they capitalize on.

"We have to realize we have to be better."

This one started the way a lot of Oilers games have. A team that's only led after 20 minutes twice in 13 games this year found itself down 2-0 at the first intermission. Hard to believe considering they had three power plays to Pittsburgh's none, but Miroslav Satan made it 1-0 at 9:14 and Maxime Talbot made it 2-0 on a shorthanded goal at 15:58.

After Satan scored again to make it 3-0 in the second, Evgeni Malkin undressed Sam Gagner in the faceoff circle to set up Petr Sykora's 4-0 goal.

And on and on it went.

Thirteen seconds into Pittsburgh's next power play, it was 5-0, spelling the end of Mathieu Garon's night.

MacTavish wasn't at all happy with his goalies.

"He wasn't very good," said the coach. "You have to make some saves. I've been in this with goaltenders for a while. When Matty is on top of hisgame, he's making a lot of those saves that are going in the back door. There are some that he didn't have much of a chance on, but when goalies are on top of their game, they make saves."

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers came in as relief late in the second period and didn't allow a goal.

"It was a big difference when Jeff went in there," said MacTavish. "Because he was on top of everything."


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