Having long ago screwed up their own season, the Edmonton Oilers seem to be taking great delight in trying to screw up everyone else's.
A game after inflicting a potentially-fatal shootout loss on Detroit's quest for a playoff spot, the Oilers routed San Jose 5-1 on Sunday, seriously jeopardizing the Sharks hopes for the Western Conference lead.
"Every year it happens. Teams out of the playoffs get on a winning streak at the end, stealing points away from the team that need them," said Oilers winger Marc Pouliot, adding Edmonton might as well be one of those teams.
"Everybody wants to play for something. And the guys in here, we just want to win."
The loss dropped San Jose into fourth place in the West, a point behind the upstart Phoenix Coyotes, who'll be sending Pat Quinn a thank you card any day now.
"It was quite embarrassing to be honest, to lose that way," said Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, clearly displeased after losing to what is supposed to be a free space on the schedule.
"It's one thing to lose a game but another thing to lose the way that we have been losing lately. I don't know if this is rock bottom or not, but we are certainly hoping it is."
The Oilers, who jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead and rode 56 minutes of shutout goaltending from Devan Dubnyk, are just happy to be involved in games that mean something -- even if it's not to them.
"This is as close to playoff hockey as we're going to get this year -- playing teams that are battling for playoff spots," said Sam Gagner.
"These teams are playing with a playoff mentality and it's an exciting challenge to match it.We want to treat these situations like playoff games and in the future maybe pull from these experiences."
The Sharks had lost five straight before touching down in Edmonton and they didn't look much like a team ready to snap out of it.
The Oilers scored twice in less than three minutes midway through the first period -- Robert Nilsson at 11:10 and Dustin Penner at 12:33 -- and never looked back.
"Last game, we had a really good first period (up 2-0 against Detroit) and we wanted to do the same again today," said Pouliot.
The Oilers ran away with it in the third on goals from Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau and Aaron Johnson's third in five games.
"Even though we have no shot at making the playoffs we still want to win games," said Nilsson, looking ahead to Tuesday's date with Vancouver.
"It's miserable going to the rink when you're losing all the time. Everyone is a little bit happier, it's a little easier to play, there are (players') children running around here after games, it's a better atmosphere. That doesn't happen when you lose 10 in a row."
The Oilers even battled like it was their neck on the block, not San Jose's, with Zack Stortini and Mike Comrie whupping Doug Murray and Scott Nichol late in the third.
"Just because we're in 30th place doesn't mean we can't stick together and play as a group," said Comrie.
LATE HITS: With a goal Sunday for the Springfield Falcons, Jordan Eberle has six points in three AHL games so far. The Oilers say they will not bring him up this season.