SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers left singing the Blues

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

EDMONTON — If not the Blues, then who?

If not the 13th place team in the NHL playing its third road game in four nights, then who exactly are the Oilers going to beat?

They couldn’t find a way past the Dallas Stars when they came here on a 10 game road losing streak. They couldn’t solve the Columbus Blue Jackets, who came here on a a 13-game road losing streak.

And after another golden opportunity slipped through the club’s trembling fingers Thursday night, nervous customers at Rexall Place must surely be wondering if Edmonton will ever win again.

Ever.

“This team has made lot of steps, but we haven’t found that way to win a game yet,” said head coach Pat Quinn, who couldn’t complain about the effort or commitment in the 2-1 loss to St. Louis. “They’re not accepting this, they’re trying to improve, they’re pushing themselves. But clearly it’s not good enough as a group yet or we’d get that result. You can’t go this long without having a successful night if you’re doing the process correctly.”

The Blues were tired, and aren’t exactly world beaters to begin with, and the Oilers (the Chicago rope-a-dope notwithstanding) have been much better lately, so it looked like this would be the one.

Instead, it was the 12th loss in a row.

“There’s been five of them where it was the one,” sighed Sam Gagner. “And we couldn’t find a way to win. It’s obviously frustrating, but we can’t dwell on it. We have to take the positive things we’ve done - our intensity and work ethic and guys staying up and continue to push forward from there.”

It was another close but no victory cigar kind of evening.

Trailing 2-1 on Alex Steen’s snap shot 2:09 into the third period, the Oilers, who’ve scored just 35 times in their last 19 losses, couldn’t buy another goal.

“We spent a lot of time in their zone in the third period, had a lot of shots, won faceoffs, and we couldn’t find the equalizer,” said Dustin Penner, who responded to some between-games nudging from Quinn by opening the scoring 7:44 into the secon period. “It would be nice to break out and have the team score four or five in a game and make it tougher on the other team.”

Instead of making it tough on their own goalies.

“It’s tough to win a lot of games in this league when you’re not scoring more than two goals a game on average,” said Penner. “We have to help out our goaltenders that way and take a bit of pressure off them so not every save is as important as it has been.”

Edmonton’s 1-0 lead lasted all of 17 seconds before St. Louis tied it on Eric Brewer’s point shot at 8:01.

“We talked about that in here, having a killer instinct after we score the first goal,” said Gagner. “If we get the second, they’re playing their third in four nights, maybe they might shut it down. It comes down to execution, we missed some timely chances and it’s coming back to haunt us.”

One more St. Louis goal in the third was all they needed.

“They’re trying to be better, trying to play hard, and they’ll get a just reward sooner or later,” said Quinn. “I can’t tell you when it is, but they’ll get it.”


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