SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers let win slip away

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Look ma, no hands.

It's something to brag about when you're six years old and riding a bike, but not so much when you're trying to earn a playoff spot.

'Look fans, no goals!' doesn't seem to have the same ring to it, especially when you end up rolling your Schwinn into another shocking defeat.

The Edmonton Oilers had chance after chance after chance to put Colorado away in the early going last night, but a breakaway and a pair of two-on-ones in the first five minutes yielded nothing.

"We had the exact start that we wanted," said head coach Craig MacTavish, after a 3-2 overtime loss that the players will have some serious trouble explaining.

"Three semi-breakways after we made it 1-0. It was the type of game that if we're sharp early on our offensive opportunities, we have a chance to win the game in the first period."

After that, the Oilers were so tight you could have hung them in a stripper's closet, and seemed to spend a lot of the night employing the dead-end strategy of playing not to lose.

"We started off moving the puck all right and it just kind of froze," said MacTavish. "And then we got tight."

They showed no urgency whatsoever against the last place team in the Western Conference. And it wasn't just to a last-place team, it was to a tired last-place team, playing on the road for the 12th time in its last 17 games.

But they had enough gas left in the tank to outshoot Edmonton 29-20 and win it on John Michel-Liles winner 42 seconds into overtime.

"Marek Svatos took the shot and it kind of came right out to me," said Liles, who was all alone on the game winner. "And our power play helped us out a couple of times, too."

DISMAL OT RECORD

It marked the fourth time in the last six games the Oilers have lost in overtime.

It started well enough. Robert Nilsson put Edmonton in front three minutes in with his second goal in two games (he got credit when Brett Clark kicked in his rebound) and it looked like the Oilers might actually run away with this one.

Heaven knows they had the chances to.

Ales Hemsky had a breakaway, Andrew Cogliano and Fernando Pisani had a two-on-one, Patrick O'Sullivan and Shawn Horcoff had an odd-man rush shorthanded - the Oilers were in full swarm mode.

But they couldn't put any of those chances away, allowing the Avalanche to hang around and make a game of it.

Which they did. Darcy Tucker scored to tie it on a power play at 15:02. That's seven straight games the Oilers have allowed a power-play goal (10 goals in total during that span).

"They got the momentum after that goal," said Nilsson.

ROLI STOOD TALL

And kept it. The shots were 6-1 Edmonton after Hemsky missed on a breakway five minutes in, and after that Colorado carried most of the play, outshooting the Oilers 16-6 over the next 35 minutes. But Dwayne Roloson kept it 1-1 through two periods.

Paul Stastny darted past Denis Grebeshkov, cut to the middle and put a wrist shot off the post and in at 4:04 of the third period to tighten the tourniquet around Rexall Place.

The building held its breath until Sheldon Souray finally squared it at 14:40. The Oilers were hoping to finally make it to the shootout, but, once again, couldn't make it out of OT.

LATE HITS: Ladislav Smid was feeling a little groggy after taking a couple of big hits in the last couple of games and sat out last night's tilt. "There was the elbow in Toronto (that knocked him out of the game) and he got rocked last game," said MacTavish ... Theo Peckham drew in in his place and had a whale of a first period fight with Chris Stewart.


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