A dog's breakfast

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

GLENDALE -- Wow.

That's all that anybody who watched this debacle could say.

Wow.

Nashville wants a playoff spot so they beat the San Jose Sharks.

St. Louis wants a playoff spot so they beat the Vancouver Canucks.

And the Edmonton Oilers, who desperately needed a win to keep pace ... fall behind 3-0 and lose 3-2 to the lowly Phoenix Coyotes.

Wow.

You have to look far and wide to find a more damning loss than the one they pitched last night.

By the time the game was 30 minutes old you couldn't tell which team was second last in the West and which team was fighting for its playoff life. The Desert Dogs looked like the playoff team and the Oilers looked like something a dog leaves behind on the neighbour's lawn.

They've got eight games left and can't afford to lose many more.

"We're running out of defeats, that's the problem," said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club lost for the third game in a row to fall into ninth place. "You don't want to spend one here today."

But they did.

The Coyotes scored on their first shot of the game and led 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Then Ken Klee and Martin Hanzal scored at 11:38 and 14:46 of the second period and it seemed to sap Edmonton's spirit. What little spirit there was, anyway.

"We knew they were going to be loose and coming hard and they did," said defenceman Sheldon Souray. "I thought we handled them well in the second period to a certain point, then we give up a couple goals in four or five minutes and start losing our composure in the defensive zone. In that short period of time it just cost us that game."

The goose-egg through 40 minutes meant the Oilers had been shut out in six of their last nine periods. That includes a shutout loss to Minnesota and a 3-2 defeat against Detroit.

"You're often judged if you score and we didn't, we weren't able to capitalize on our chances early," said Ethan Moreau. "Other than that it wasn't horrible, we just couldn't score, that was the difference in the game."

The Oilers, as they so often do, came to life late, when the Aleses -- Kotalik and Hemsky -- scored 33 seconds apart midway through the third to make it 3-2. But that's as close as they got.

"If we go into and get a win we go back home feeling good about ourselves," said Moreau. "There's no quit, there's no hanging our heads in our room."

This was supposed to be the easy game on the trip. The Coyotes are out of it, they unloaded at the deadline, their stands are empty and the team is in financial turmoil. The GM wrote a letter of apology to the fans, for heaven sakes.

The Give-A-Heck meter was barely moving. They had three days off since their last game and it was still an optional morning skate, which only a few players attended. Edmonton could have rubbed out their will the first 15 minutes.

But nooooooo.

"Even the bad teams have close to 30 wins," said Moreau. "They're dangerous teams, they're loose. You never really know what you're going to get. There's definitely no gimmes."

"We're getting down to the nitty gritty here," said Souray. "There's not many games left, not many opportunities to lose games anymore. We need to win a lot of games, we need to get a lot of points to get into the playoffs."

The Oilers won't have much time to regroup. They're back at it tonight in Anaheim for an even bigger game against a much tougher opponent. The Ducks are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and have won five in a row.


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