EDMONTON - NASHVILLE — The full court presses will keep coming until the Edmonton Oilers figure out a way to survive them.
It seems like when other teams need a goal against Edmonton, they just turn up the pressure and get one — as evidenced by the endless stream of hard-fought, one goal losses.
“We were sloppy enough that Columbus really came after us, thinking we would throw the puck away and hand the game over to them,” said head coach Tom Renney, whose club lost 4-3 to the Blue Jackets on Saturday and is 8-17 in one-goal games, including OT and shootouts.
“We hung in there, but we just seem to make that one or two plays that really kind of cost us. The guys are trying, but we have to be better than that. This is not the ‘We’re Trying League.’ You have to win.”
They’ll try again Monday night in Nashville, where they’ve never had much luck, but the bitter taste of 4-3 and 5-3 losses to start this road trip stings.
“It’s been a lot more games than two that we’ve been close,” said winger Magnus Paajarvi. “It’s so frustrating.”
It would be nice if they had somebody to blame other than themselves, but, like Renney said, until they clean up some of that sloppiness, it’s going to keep happening.
“It would have been nice for these tight games to have gone a little differently and walk out with four points,” said Sam Gagner.
“But at the end of the day we made too many mistakes at key times defensively. We had the lead with six minutes to go (in Columbus) and gave up two odd-man rushes that led to our downfall. We have to get better.”
Edmonton’s special teams are the NHL’s worst: 30th on the power play and 30th on PK. Nashville has power play goals in three straight games (on 10 chances).
The Preds’ PK was a perfect five-for-five on Saturday against Detroit and killed 15-of-16 over the last four games. They’re 21-of-22 in six games at home since Christmas.
Trouble scoring? Welcome to Nashville, where the Preds are giving up an NHL-best 1.77 goals against per game.
Oilers tough guy Steve MacIntyre is in the lineup. Sort of. He’s played less than 30 seconds in each of his last two games. Barely enough time to get the blades wet.
“Am I happy about it, no, but things could be a lot worse,” he said. “You have to keep that in mind. You’re playing in the NHL. Stay on course and realize the big picture.”
LATE HITS: The Predators have won four straight against the Oilers, and have gone 15-2-0 since 2006-07. They’ve scored five or more on Edmonton seven times.