Oilers take Isles seriously

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

They have hosted the inept and struggling before, but the Edmonton Oilers have managed to give the bottom feeders a reprieve.

Heading into tonight's game against the New York Islanders, the Oilers know all too well how dangerous a wounded dog can be.

"You can't underestimate any team in this league," said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. "Every team is good, they're in the NHL for a reason, it's the best league in the world and every team is going to come in here and put up a fight. We have to approach it like we would any other game, we have to get off to a good start, push the envelope, and if we can do that, hopefully we can come away with the two points."

WORST TEAM

The Islanders are the worst team in the league, last in the Eastern Conference standings, 15 points out of a playoff spot. They have only two wins in their last 15 games and have lost 12 straight on the road.

The last team to come into Edmonton on a 12-game road losing skid were the Ottawa Senators, but they were able to pull out a 3-2 victory over the Oilers.

Earlier this season the Oilers also lost to the Florida Panthers, perennial whipping boys, who are once struggling to get into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Ottawa has had some tougher times this year, but we knew they were a really good team, or at least have the potential to have a really good team," Gagner said. "Florida was on a good stretch of games when we played them and we can't underestimate New York either.

"We know it's going to be a tough battle and we have to come out and be ready to play."

It's not as though the Oilers are without issues of their own.

Despite beating the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Saturday, they are still a point out of a playoff spot and desperately need to string together some wins to vault themselves into a comfortable playoff position and into the division race.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

With their next four and 10 of their next 13 at home they have a golden opportunity to do so.

"This is really an important time," said Oilers centre Kyle Brodziak. "We haven't had a stretch at home like this yet this year. I think we've been playing a lot better as of late and we have to build on the momentum that we built (Saturday) night and keep going with it.

"It's a crucial time of the season right now and hopefully we can put a run together and put ourselves in a good position."

Prior to dropping their game against the Senators, the Oilers had put together a modest three-game win streak and were climbing up the standings.

They managed to move up another rung with the win over the Stars.

"Every team is capable of winning on any given night," Brodziak said. "We just have to make sure we're ready for them, we'll prepare a game plan and hopefully we can come out and play like we did the other night."


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