Oilers March in like a lamb

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The Oilers broke the NHL record last night for most dudes on one line named Ales ... two.

But Hemsky and Kotalik are still waiting to break out themselves.

The duo was not-so-dynamic last night, going scoreless and a combined minus-six when it mattered in Edmonton's listless 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, fourth-worst team in the NHL.

Or, fifth worst if you go by what you saw last night.

You can't just blame two guys, though, this was a total team effort. A rather inexcusable one at that.

"Just a lack of being able to make a play from the first faceoff," said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club was down 1-0 at the 12-second mark.

"It was just a casual, casual game. It looked like it was a summer hockey game, the way they were moving the puck. Not the intensity level that the situation calls for.

"It was flat most of the day, flat on the bench during the game. They got a little interested in the third, but right from the first play they mangled the puck, it was in our net and that was a sign of things to come."

DISCONCERTING

How disconcerting it must be when the lowly Sens, a team that just lost 6-3 to Calgary, trades away a key player, gets an injured goalie in return and then stomps you in a game you absolutely have to win.

This, after your GM just went out on a limb and added two new forwards.

"I was impressed with the skill level I saw from both the acquisitions we got," MacTavish said of Kotalik and Patrick O'Sullivan. "But when you have a certain percentage of your defencemen who played the way they played tonight, you can't win at this level."

The revamped first line, with Kotalik and Hemsky flanking Shawn Horcoff, was no match for Ottawa's elite trio of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, who scored three times in the win.

"The day was pretty long for me and Patrick (O'Sullivan)," said Kotalik. "But that's no excuse, we have to be better. Ottawa got a couple of goals from broken plays and we weren't able to answer. Their top guys made some good plays to win the game for them."

The Sens jumped in front on the fastest goal from the start of the game in their franchise history - 12 seconds - scored two more in the second period and ran the Oilers out of time in the third.

Sam Gagner put Edmonton on the board with a power play breakaway and made it 4-2, after replacing Horcoff on the first line with a weak backhand.

"A very puzzling, disappointing game," said MacTavish.

"It's a time for introspection for them. You have the expectation of a certain amount of intensity when you play a game like this in the situation we're in and we go out and mangle it. It was just very disappointing."

FIRST-LINE WOES

The Oilers, who aren't going anywhere without a high-end first line, have been searching a long time for somebody to bury all of those deft Hemsky passes that have been going to waste this season. And Kotalik, who had five goals in his last 29 games before coming to the Oilers, has been searching for somebody or something to jump-start his frozen hands.

Everyone concerned was hoping the arranged marriage they consummated at the NHL trade deadline would take care of both those concerns, but it looks like it might take some time before the gears are meshing like they want them to.

Kotalik knows there isn't a lot of time to get up to speed.

"I'm trying to find a rhythm with these guys, read their style of game, what they're going to do," he said. "This game was tough to get anything going."


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