SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers look to close the deal

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:05 PM ET

ANAHEIM — The Edmonton Oilers were able to do a lot of good things in Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

They were just unable to close out the deal.

Heading into their contest against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, the Oilers are hoping to build on the positives and finally snap a losing streak that has extended to six games.

“Heading into the (Phoenix) game, we talked a lot about our system play and our preparation for games and what it’s going to take to be successful,” said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. “We feel like we had a lot of good discussion. The guys are on the same page and for the most part, it showed.

“We felt like we did a lot of good things and we have to continue to stick to the same game plan and continue to move forward and not deviate from it.”

For the first time seemingly all season, the Oilers got off to a good start in their contest against the Coyotes.

Their penalty-killing unit not only killed off a five-minute major, but also netted a short-handed marker.

They took advantage of their power-play opportunities, scoring a goal with the man advantage, and other before the penalized players were able to get back in the play.

“We weren’t able to come out with the win, but we feel like we did a lot of good things,” Gagner said. “We have to stick to the plan, continue to move forward and hopefully get two points in our next game.

“It’s always frustrating when you don’t win, it’s a results-oriented league. We have a lot of pride in here and we obviously want to be successful, we want to win games. You can’t let that pride get in the way of continuing to do things the right way and stick to the plan.”

Coming off blowout losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, dropping a game in a shootout to the Coyotes is a step forward.

Even if the Oilers managed to blow a three-goal lead in the contest and conceded the tying marker with 35 seconds left in regulation.

“We just have to finish out a game and that’s something that a young team sometimes has problems with,” said Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney. “But we have to build on that effort. I felt like we did a good job of that for the most part, and if we continue to stick with it, we’re going to get rewarded more times than not and we just have to continue to believe that.”

Whitney helped the Oilers cause by setting up a pair of goals.

The two assists gave him 16 on the year, which leads the team in scoring.

“It’s nice to contribute, but at the same time, I’d like to get a goal too,” Whitney said. “I guess it’s not as bad as it would be if I wasn’t getting assists. But you still want to score. Even if I just had one I’d feel better.”

He’ll get his chance against the Ducks, who are also struggling, having lost four straight going into their game against the Oilers.

“It’s something to build on the energy and the work ethic we had against Phoenix,” Whitney said. “Before the game, it felt different in the dressing room as though we had had enough and it was going to end the whole streak we had. We played pretty solid, it was just lapses we had at the wrong time, to let them back in the game. But we can build on a lot of that game.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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