Oilers fold up in home loss

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Battle of Alberta?

This one was more like the Purse Fight of Alberta as the Edmonton Oilers, winless in their last six starts hosted the almost equally woeful Calgary Flames, who'd lost six of their previous seven.

Prada vs Gucci, at 10 paces.

And in the end, it was the Oilers who got a face full of designer leather as the Flames waltzed into their building and shoved them into the loss column like nerds in a high school locker.

"Until we have the mental strength to fight through and keep fighting, that's what going to happen," said head coach Pat Quinn, whose club staked itself a 1-0 lead and dominated the first period, but had no answer when the Flames rolled up their sleeves and got serious.

"They got great goaltending in the first period... but you don't quit playing and give up the weak stuff."

Nobody has quit yet, but the box that the Oilers came in should be marked 'Fragile' because when the going gets tough, they crumble.

Down 2-1 after 40 minutes at home to a bitter rival, they managed four shots in the third period.

"We cannot let it develop into an attitude," Quinn said after the 4-1 mess. "You keep fighting it. You never accept, never accept that you can't go out there and compete in a hockey game. That's where your integrity and pride and everything about who you are is important.

"We have to learn that we can't fold it up. When you're down 2-1 you come out with the thought that you're going to catch them, you're going to score a goal. And we give up another piece of crap."

The defeat is Edmonton's seventh in a row, their longest slump since the 2007 death march when they lost 12 straight down the stretch.

"It's ourselves beating ourselves," said Shawn Horcoff in another empty Oilers post-game dressing room.

"We have to find a way to come out with -- not so much a better effort, I thought the effort was there in a lot of ways -- we just have to find a way to win the special teams battle and score goals when we need them."

They did neither, again. They struck out with the man advantage, gave up a power play goal and picked up the slapstick hat-trick by giving up a shorthanded goal in the third.

They started well enough, with Ryan Potulny scoring to make it 1-0 Edmonton at 2:02 and the Oilers leading 15-3 in shots through 15 minutes, but before they got to the first intermission, Rene Bourque had tied it.

Bourque scored again -- the eighth power play goal against in Edmonton's last four games -- to put Calgary in front 2-1 after 40 minutes, despite trailing 31-14 on the shot clock.

The power play, which has gone scoreless in the last five games and is two-for its last 32 chances, sunk to a new low, turning a third-period man advantage into a back-breaking shorthanded goal that completed Bourque's hat-trick at 5:37.

A weak wrist shot a couple minutes later by Mark Giordano added comic relief.

The Oilers are now 12 points out of eight, with Calgary and San Jose next up after tomorrow's game with Toronto.

Cigarettes and blindfolds, anyone?

"We have to come to the rink every day ready to get better," said Potulny. "You look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'What can I do to make this team better?' Right now. If everyone does that, I think we'll get it going."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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