SUN Hockey Pool

Edmonton still shootin' blanks

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

EDMONTON - Halloween isn't until Saturday, so it wasn't ghosts doing all the booing last night -- it was a sold-out crowd, afraid they might be watching The Return of the Living Dead.

For the third game in the row -- all of them lopsided losses -- the Edmonton Oilers reverted to the bad habits and frustrating lack of production that's been haunting them into one early spring after another.

"We had to come out harder; we weren't ready to match their intensity tonight," said centre Shawn Horcoff, after the upstart Colorado Avalanche blanked the downward-spiralling Oilers 3-0.

"We found out early why their record is what it is (9-1-2). We have to be able to match that, especially at home ... but we weren't ready to play early."

Not by a long shot. This was one team that has come out of nowhere against one that looks like it's headed there.

"Obviously it's embarrassing to get shut out two games in a row," said Sam Gagner. "We have to change something up. We have to start trying something else to get pucks to the net."

The Oilers didn't get their 10th shot until halfway through the second period, didn't draw their first penalty until the game was 32 minutes old.

Didn't score, period.

Actually, they haven't scored in seven periods after a 2-0 shutout loss Sunday in Vancouver. Haven't scored an even strength goal in 10 periods.

Welcome to Craig MacTavish's world, Pat.

"They were just going to wait until we turned it over often enough, and we did," said head coach Pat Quinn.

"They checked us and did the little things well and we were on our heels for much of the night. We were looking for big plays when you're supposed to look for little plays."

The Oilers scored at will in the first five or six games. Now the faucets have turned off. The loss drops them to 6-5-1, with seven of their next nine games on the road.

"It's a long year as a team you're going to have your ups and downs," said Horcoff.

"The best teams go through times when they're not scoring and not winning. The difference is how quickly can you come out of it.

"If you can keep it at two, three, or four and come out of it and get back on the winning track those are the teams that are going to make the playoffs."

While Edmonton can't buy a goal, the Avs got one 25 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Despite back-to-back power plays midway through the second, the Oilers were still clinging to a 1-0 deficit after 40 minutes.

"The really disappointing thing is Khabby kept us in there and gave us a chance," said Horcoff. "But we didn't respond."

Wojtek Wolski made it 2-0 midway through the third, and Taylor Chorney hooked Wolski from behind with Khabibulin pulled, resulting in an automatic goal to make it 3-0.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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