SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers hoping for some help

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

They earned a stay of execution with their victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

But with the Edmonton Oilers sitting three points out of a playoff spot with three games left in the season, the odds are still stacked heavily against them.

They're going to need a lot of help, and a lot of teams to stumble in front of them.

"All we can do is try to win our remaining games," said winger Patrick O'Sullivan. "We can't control what the other teams do. We need a little bit of help, but we can't worry about that, we just have to play our game and try to win. That's all we can do."

The Oilers took the day off yesterday and will be back on the ice today to prepare to host the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow.

Edmonton currently sits 11th in the Western Conference standings, tied with the Minnesota Wild, three points back of the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, who currently occupy the final playoff spot.

The Wild lost a heartbreaker yesterday in Detroit, conceding the winning goal with under a minute to play in the third period.

St. Louis and Nashville were idle.

The Blues wrap up their regular season with games tomorrow in Phoenix, back home against Columbus on Friday and in Colorado on Sunday.

The Predators host Chicago tomorrow, then travel to Detroit and Minnesota on Thursday and Friday.

The Oilers, meanwhile, finish the year with a home-and-home series with the Calgary Flames after their encounter with the Kings.

"It's just nice to win and get some smiles. You don't have to fake being happy," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said after the win over Vancouver.

"It's a good environment to take into the next couple of days of practice and we can go into the L.A. game feeling good about ourselves."

Two weeks ago the Oilers went into Minnesota on a three-game winning streak, comfortably in a playoff spot and with a chance to bury the Wild.

After out-shooting their opponents 15-2 in the opening frame but failing to score, the Oilers went on to lose 3-0. They then dropped six of their next seven.

By the time they fell at home to San Jose last week, the team and the town were resigned to the fact they probably weren't going to make the playoffs.

"We played well against San Jose," Moreau said. "We played well against Anaheim as well. Unfortunately that losing skid came at a horrible time.

"But we've accomplished some things against good teams as well. We were doing some things right and for whatever reason we were not getting the results."

The 5-3 win against Vancouver stopped the bleeding.

The Oilers got another outstanding performance from Dwayne Roloson and were finally able to give their goaltender some run support.

In their previous six losses, they were unable to score more than three goals.

"I think against a lot of the more aggressive teams in the league we play well," Moreau said. "Anaheim, Vancouver, Calgary, we just seem to have better efforts against them.

"We forechecked well against like we did against San Jose.

"Our defence did a great job down the wall keeping the forecheck alive and played great in our own end. Roli made a lot of great saves and our defence were able to clear the puck out of the front of the net.

"The subtle changes we made in our system play really paid off. I think the changes Mac (head coach Craig MacTavish) has made in our system play, are going to allow us to be more aggressive and take the play to the opposition."

The Oilers can't afford another loss and must run the table to give themselves any chance of making a miracle comeback.

It'll be a tough task, considering the Oilers have not won four straight since starting the season that way.

"They've also had plenty of comebacks this season fall just short. That appears to be their destiny heading into the final week of the regular season.

"There's nothing you can really focus on besides winning our games," said forward Sam Gagner.

"Obviously we're going to need some help to get into the playoffs. But without our wins, it's not going to happen.

"We just have to bring some positive energy to the rink every day and hopefully make a run at this thing."


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