COLUMBUS -- They probably could have put the goal up on the scoreboard the moment Andrew Cogliano skated over to the penalty box in the third period.
The way things have gone for the Edmonton Oilers on this five-game road trip, it was predictable that on the ensuing power play the Columbus Blue Jackets would tie the game, which they went on to win 3-2 in a shootout.
The Oilers had just squandered a power-play opportunity of their own moments earlier, during which Ethan Moreau rang a shot off the crossbar.
"It's a game of inches," said Edmonton defenceman Sheldon Souray.
"Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't. But when you work hard, usually the hockey gods are a little kinder to you. That's just a little lesson, if you just keep working hard eventually you'll get those breaks."
Antoine Vermette went on to score the tying goal, tipping a shot from the point past Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
It wiped out the lead Edmonton had taken earlier in the period on a goal from Lubomir Visnovsky, who deposited a rebound past Columbus goaltender Mathieu Garon.
The Blue Jackets then completed the comeback in the shootout when Jakub Voracek sniped the winner.
Fedor Tyutin also scored for the Blue Jackets in the shootout, while Ales Hemsky countered for the Oilers.
"This road trip had four one-goal games on it and somehow we have to take a step and grab those points," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn.
"We have to figure that out. We had two good periods. In the second period we struggled with turnovers too much in our zone. We still have to figure that out.
"But we had some good efforts from our players and can take the positives out of that, head home and see if we can get some positives with some wins."
The Oilers got off to a livelier start than they did in Atlanta the day before.
Early in the first, Zack Stortini tried to get involved with Jared Boll, who turned down his invitation, so Stortini took on Mike Blunden instead, pounding the Blue Jackets winger.
Immediately after Stortini dusted Blunden, Jason Strudwick dropped the gloves with Tom Sestito, setting a nasty tone to the contest.
"We talked about being gritty, wanting to get into it early, and Storts and Struds gave the bench a big lift," said centre Shawn Horcoff.
"But it's still disappointing. It's frustrating right now. I guess the consolation is that we get one point. But it's another game where we had the lead and weren't able to finish it off."
Columbus defenceman Anton Stralman opened the scoring on a two-man advantage in the second period, one timing a pass from Kristian Huselius underneath Khabibulin's pad.
The Oilers tied the game on a power-play goal of their own as Hemsky's pass to Dustin Penner on the lip of the crease eluded Garon.
Visnovsky's fifth goal of the season gave the Oilers the lead with just over 14 minutes to go.
Once in the shootout, however, the Oilers were in trouble, with Garon boasting the best record in league history.
He stopped Patrick O'Sullivan, Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule in the showdown to improve his shootout record to 18-4.
"We don't take by assertive methods when we need to put the pedal down a little bit," said Quinn.
"We seem to get comfortable or maybe afraid to do something. We fought back and were doing fairly well, then took a penalty -- I guess it was a penalty -- and we ended up paying for it."
ICE CHIPS: Centre Sam Gagner sat out with what the team described as a lower-body injury. In his place they decided to dress minor league defenceman Dean Arsene instead of Robert Nilsson, who had been suffering concussion symptoms earlier on the trip.