SUN Hockey Pool

Yet another way to die

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Well, the Olympic torch thing was good.

And that really was Sidney Crosby in the flesh down there on the Rexall Place ice for the first time since Dec. 5, 2007 and the second time in his career.

Not that you would have noticed him this night.

But for the longest time there ...

You can't lose 'em all, right?

No, you can't. But in the end, the Edmonton Oilers lost another one.

The Oilers had lost seven straight until they played before a legitimate full house against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Another five losses in a row and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost to those Leafs a couple weeks ago come to think of it, showed up in front of a legitimate capacity crowd again.

But so did the Oilers!

Until last night, it's looked like they'd given up.

But last night they really did show up.

With a buzz in the building these guys weren't looking like their usual silent movie slapstick production in their own end in front of Devan Dubnyk in taking a 2-0 lead through two periods and forcing Fleury to look like he should be Canada's starter at the Olympics instead of Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo.

The problem with the Oilers was the Penguins only had to show up for the third period to beat them.

So the beat continues -- 13 losses in the last 14 games and the Oilers are now off to San Jose with a six-game losing streak and a chance to roll another seven in the craps game that has left them 29th overall in the NHL. Furthermore, they're not losing any ground in the race for Taylor Hall, even though Carolina lost last night.

Unlike most nights, the fans had a decent night out at the good old hockey game.

There was a terrific scene for not only Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Fleury but a pre-game program featuring the Olympic flame and some of the Edmonton area all-time Olympic greats the night after our city gave the Vancouver 2010 torch relay its most successful stop.

With past Olympians Jamie Sale, Catriona Le May Doan, Diedre Dionne, Bill Dawe and Don Guaf involved with current and past Olympian Kevin Martin, and first-timers headed to Vancouver like Shannon Szabados, it was one of those rare nights that was as much an event as game.

In Crosby's last visit to the building, his only other visit, he registered three assists to help Pittsburgh score a 4-2 win. And that was the Penguins' first visit here since Crosby was 16.

This night it was Staal with three assists to lead the Penguins' comeback as the Oilers lost yet another game to a team which had played the night before.

So what was the bottom line?

A positive? Or anther negative?

There was, for starters, an unusually high number of players serving themselves up for interviews rather than the usual gathering of Sheldon Souray and one or two others.

"It was the best game we played in a long time," offered Souray this time.

"They're champions for a reason. We played well and stuck with our game plan. The turnovers weren't there like they have been early in previous games.

"We got good goaltending. There were a lot of good signs tonight."

Andrew Cogliano, who scored a goal but was on for two against, felt that they deserved two points.

"We should have won the game. For two and a half periods we shut down Crosby, Malkin and their big guns."

Dustin Penner said the bottom line is one team is confident and the other isn't.

"They got through on confidence in themselves. We don't have it. Maybe it's our youth."

But Pat Quinn wasn't going to paint a pretty face on it.

"We do some stuff I like a lot. We've played well against good teams all year but find a way to disappoint ourselves.

"We played physically hard tonight, but it was the same old story. We have to stop beating ourselves.

"We lose the game because a puck bounces off the kid's knee for the win. Tough break. Tough luck. But you make your own luck and we're just not making it."

Perfect.

On a big night in the building you show your fans you were almost good enough to be able to beat the Stanley Cup champions but then tank it in the third so you don't get any unwanted points in the standings.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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