An absence of urgency

Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon is dejected as the Panthers' Gregory Campbell celebrates a goal during...

Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon is dejected as the Panthers' Gregory Campbell celebrates a goal during second period action Thursday. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The temptation is to write this as a glory story.

Florida Panthers netminder Craig Anderson is one of the very best stories of the season in the NHL. And his story just got better last night at Rexall Place when he stopped 41 shots to register a 2-0 shutout over the Edmonton Oilers.

The $575,000-a-year goalie, whose paycheque is 10% of Tomas Vokoun's, went into the game with the best save percentage in the league at .941 and a 2.09 goals against average and improved on both numbers to go 5-1-2 in his last eight games and 16-4-3 since Jan. 3 last year.

Anderson left the building with one of the most fascinating stats you'll ever find for a goaltender as he stretched his career record to 10-1-4 in games in which he faced 40 or more shots.

But sorry, he wasn't the story.

Lots of shots. No chances.

That was the sorry story as the Oilers booted yet another home game as they began the stretch of games in which they're supposed to reboot their season.

"How many quality shots did we have?" asked Sheldon Souray. "Not very many. We might have had five chances. We floated a lot of them in there. It was a lousy performance."

The Oilers outshot Florida 41-16.

If you only watched the shot clock, and not the game itself, you would have figured the Oilers were world-beaters this night. They outshot the Panthers 7-0 in the first 10 minutes and had a 25-9 advantage when Souray was issued a bogus hooking penalty.

Edmonton's 29th ranked penalty killing outfit surrendered a power play goal to Steven Weiss and Florida took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.

The Panthers left the ice with a 28-13 edge in shots at the end of two periods. Theys went until 5:25 remained in the third before managing a shot in that period -- one of three, including the empty net goal that made it 2-0.

Lots of shots? No chances?

"We've seen that before," said coach Craig MacTavish of having a team of periphery players until some of them finally started going to the net in the third period.

"We had a lot of shots, but some of the shots we passed up were our best looks," MacTavish added.

Lose many more like this and the Oilers will be passing up a fantastic opportunity to rocket up the standings.

Edmonton came into the game having only played eight at home compared to 18 by the Rangers and Kings, 17 by the Ducks, 16 by the Sharks and Hurricanes, 15 by the Senators, Wild and Sabres and 14 or more by a total of 16 teams in the league.

But the thing is, you gotta win 'em.

The Oilers had 10 more games remaining at home than on the road. Now it's nine.

And of the nine they've played here so far, they only played well in one of them and they've only won three.

Is it time to take this team through some sort of diagnostic test to figure out if there's a theme to why a team that can go 10-8 on the road can't win at home?

Souray says the team which has already been shut out four times this year usually has the same condition when they lose.

"Lack of intensity," he said.

"We need to have more intensity collectively. They were playing a safe game and we didn't take advantage of that.

"There is never an easy game in this league. You can't expect to play less than your best and win.

"We didn't have the same intensity as we did in our most recent road games. We've got to be intense, no matter who we play," he said, suggesting maybe the team looked at all the Florida injuries and figured it would be smoother sledding at home than on the road.

"Maybe we got ahead of ourselves looking ahead," he said of the run of home games in the next two months.

"We're a young team. We're going to make mistakes. But you don't want to keep repeating the same mistakes."

MacTavish said there have been lots of games when he's questioned the team's effort at home, but he wasn't going to do that with this one.

"We were inefficient," he said.

If you're looking for a theme to this team at home, he said the theme for practice today will be about not being periphery players in the coming games here.

"The theme will be about driving the puck to the tough areas."

He might mention something about the passengers they had last night. Too much periphery play and a handful of passengers is not a recipe for winning hockey games, home or away.


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