'Real disappointment' says Oilers coach

Nikolai Khabibulin looks on as Chris Neil takes a dive during the Edmonton Oilers game against the...

Nikolai Khabibulin looks on as Chris Neil takes a dive during the Edmonton Oilers game against the Ottawa Senators at Rexall Place on Saturday. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 AM ET

EDMONTON - You know it's a tough year when a team comes to town on an 11-game losing streak, has a goalie on a 13-game losing streak, has one win in its last 18 starts, is minus its best guy, is in the early stages of being dismantled and is still AHEAD of you in the standings.

The only thing that could possibly make a year like that worse is losing to that team.

Beaten at home by the Ottawa Senators?

Ouch. Now we know how other teams feel when they lose to Edmonton.

"There's no question there's just real disappointment in the room right now, real frustration," said associate coach Ralph Krueger, after the Oilers solidified their place at the bottom of the NHL with a lifeless 5-3 loss to the 29th place Senators. "Happiness is far away from us. All we can do is react on Sunday. If we've got character, we're going to play a hell of a game Sunday."

They only looked like hell on Saturday. With the hometown crowd expecting to see the Oilers fired up at the prospect of playing somebody they could actually beat, and rallying to end Nikolai Khabibulin's 13-game nightmare, Edmonton offered nothing in the way of a first period storm.

No hits, no intensity, no forecheck, barely any shots.

Cats jump into bathtubs full of water with more vigor than Edmonton started this game.

The second period was more of the same.

"We just didn't have the same oomph and energy like we should have," said Jordan Eberle, who can feel the pressure mounting after Edmonton's 20th loss in the last 24 games. "It's wearing on our team. We're losing games. It's not fun. It's frustrating when you lose. We need a win."

Six shots in the first period. Five in the second. This, after posting just five shots in the first 30 minutes on Wednesday? Did nobody get around to telling them that Brian (What's a Win?) Elliott was at the other end?

"We weren't getting enough offensive zone time," said Andrew Cogliano. "When you're in the offensive zone you're playing offence, you're on your toes. When you're taking penalties you're on your heels and giving momentum back to their team."

At the other end, Khabibulin let in the first two shots he faced in his 14th straight loss. This one hurts. Heck, when you haven't won since Dec. 16, everything hurts.

"It's been frustrating for a while now," said Khabibulin, who lost so many now he's long past the point of ranking the pain. "A loss is a loss."

The sad part is that it wasn't like Ottawa rose up and delivered the game of their lives. They looked terrible, even for the Senators. The visitors showed no passion either. They had just 11 hits, 19 giveaways, only 15 shots of their own through 40 and set the NHL's single-game record for tape-to-skate passes.

"They weren't overly good," said Cogliano. "They played well enough to win, obviously, but they weren't dominating us in any way."

You don't have to when your opponent is playing not to lose. Trying to out-trap the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL got Edmonton nowhere fast. They were down 2-1 after 20, tied 2-2 after 40 and gave up three goals against the in the third en route to their 39th defeat in 55 starts.

It's never easy trying to determine the low point of a shipwreck, but Saturday afternoon is a leading contender.

If they can't beat the Sens, who's left?

"We're going to expect a better fate next game, no matter who we're playing," said Dustin Penner, who scored twice for the Oilers. "It didn't matter that they were 29th. We felt strong about our team, it was just untimely mistakes."

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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