Oilers left game plan on road

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:06 PM ET

Regardless of their lineup, the Edmonton Oilers knew things would be tough on the five-game road trip.

With the exception of the Colorado Avalanche, the Oilers were going up against four Stanley Cup contenders in the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

So it’s little wonder that without their leading scorers available, the Oilers approached the expedition in full survival mode.

“It’s been a tough trip, we knew it was going to be a tough trip, regardless of who we had in the lineup,” said Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk. “We were up against some good hockey teams all in a row and we managed to get them all while there were on a losing skids that there were ready to battle out of.

“We battled, we had some good times and some bad times. In Detroit, we played a good, hard 60 minutes, and unfortunately, it was more like 40 on Sunday.”

The Oilers actually had an opportunity to salvage the trip with a victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

However, they took the first period off and then were unable to battle their way back in the contest, before running out of gas in the third.

A victory would have given them five of a possible 10 points, a reasonable accomplishment on the road by most standards.

Instead, they had to settle for three points, which keeps them entrenched in the basement of the NHL standings and favoured to once against select first overall in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

“We would have liked to have played better,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We had a nice start in Colorado, but I thought the next two games were tough for us.

“I don’t know that we dealt with them particularly well in Philadelphia and Washington. We weren’t able to play complete games. In Detroit we did with the exception of 24 seconds or so.”

The Oilers went into their final game of the trip in good spirits, having pushed the Red Wings to the brink and coming within 25 seconds of an unlikely victory at the Joe Lewis Arena on Friday.

They treated the 2-1 overtime loss like a victory, having executed their survival game plan nearly to perfection in Detroit.

“We played great games in Colorado and Detroit,” said winger Ryan Jones, who scored two of the Oilers’ three goals against the four contenders. “I think if we had played that way every game, it would have been totally different. We need some consistency that we’re lacking right now.”

Along with losing four of the five games, the Oilers also suffered casualties that will deplete their already thin lineup.

Sam Gagner was lost for the year after a freak incident where he was cut on the hand by Jones’ skate in Washington.

Shawn Horcoff was drilled on the left foot by a Magnus Paajarvi slap-shot in the third period Sunday.

Horcoff was able to finish the game, but left the CONSOL Energy Center in a medical boot.

J.F. Jacques and Gilbert Brule also left a little woozy.

“It’s not an excuse because of the guys that we have out,” Jones said. “And the guys that are in the room are going out and giving it everything they have. I don’t think there are any guys in here that can say they’re not trying their hardest.

“We just have to keep battling. I think we just got a little too much outside our game. We needed it to keep it simple like we did in Detroit and we got a little bit away from that and the results obviously show.”

Notes ... The Oilers sent Alexandre Giroux back to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City and recalled winger Teemu Hartikainen in his place. Hartikainen, 20, has 17 goals and 25 assists in 42 games with the Oklahoma City Barons this season. He was selected by the Oilers in the sixth round — 163rd overall — of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.


Videos

Photos