SUN Hockey Pool

Refs, discipline cost Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Faceoffs, discipline and goaltending -- get beat up in any one of those areas and it usually costs you the game.

Get beat up in all three, like the Oilers did last night, and it's a miracle it was even close.

The hosts battled through a long night's worth of adversity, some of it self-inflicted, the best they could, but all they had to show for it was a 5-3 preseason loss to the Calgary Flames.

"Obviously the referees are trying to work through some stuff, too," said Patrick O'Sullivan.

"I'm not going to question any calls, but we certainly got more than they did."

A lot more.

The Flames had three five-on-threes and spent 13 of the first 40 minutes on the power play while referees Chris Lee and Rob Martell rang up the Oilers like a pinball machine.

"Some could be debatable, some not," said defenceman Tom Gilbert.

"Obviously we could have been a little more disciplined. But it's preseason, it's not like we're going to go out there and take that many penalties in the regular season."

To Edmonton's credit, they only gave up one power-play goal on nine chances and went 1-for-3 themselves.

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin still has some rust to knock off.

He let in four goals, all of them suspect, on his first 20 shots before giving way to Jeff Deslauriers in the third. It was revealed after the game that Khabibulin left early suffering from dehydration.

In the faceoff circle, Edmonton was 39% through two periods before improving to 46 by game's end.

There were some bright spots, like J.F. Jacques, who's shaping up to be the most important new face in the lineup.

Is there anything the Oilers could possibly need more than a six-foot-four, 220-pounder who can score, fight, play with energy every night and make $525,000?

He had a goal and drew Robyn Regehr into a second period fight.

Dustin Penner also turned in another solid night, scoring his second of the preseason and setting Mike Comrie up for a gimme, both goals the result of strength and hard work in the slot.


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