| Nikolai Khabibulin gets in Chris Neil's face after an altercation in the crease during the Oilers 5-3 loss to the Senators Saturday at Rexall Place. Khabibulin received a double minor for his part in the skirmish (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - Obstruction penalties are like blood-stains at the crime scene — they can tell you a lot about the cause of death.
Being out of position. Being lazy. Playing on your heels. Trapping instead of attacking.
The Oilers were guilty of all of the above Saturday in handing the Ottawa Senators seven power plays and a 5-3 win.
"Playing seven times shorthanded, you just can't win hockey games doing that," said associate coach Ralph Krueger. "Our penalty killing was excellent and gave us a chance, but those two penalties early in the third were energy-takers."
The Oilers were flagged for interference, holding, hooking, tripping, high-sticking and hooking against an Ottawa team that forechecks like old people mall walk.
This is becoming a regular occurance lately. They took six-straight penalties Wednesday against Chicago and five in Nashville.
If the penalty killing hadn't been fantastic over the last three games, killing 16 of 18 chances, things could have really been ugly. Not that anyone would be in a hurry to take last night's mutt to the prom.
"Sitting on the bench we were thinking we're going to take over this game eventually," said Jordan Eberle. "Then we got into some penalty trouble. It kills the rhythm of the team, just like the game before. Even though our PK is playing extremely well, it kills the guys and kills the flow of the game."
"We're getting a lot of stick penalties, some nights they don't call it but on the nights that they do you can get five or six," said Andrew Cogliano. "When you get that many it doesn't let your team get momentum."
The Oilers killed five in a row before the sixth one got them against Chicago and six in a row before the seventh one got them Saturday.
"That's been the story as of late," said Dustin Penner. "If you give them that many opportunities they're going to find the back of the net eventually."
As good as the penalty killers have been, Edmonton's 30th ranked power-play units have become laughable. They gassed another 5-on-3 to go 0-for-5 in the matinee and run their slump to 22 straight chances.
"Special teams again," said Cogliano. "We had an opportunity to score one on the power play, we couldn't, then give one up on the PK, a flukey one, and that was the end of the game."