Oilers masters of the failed comeback

Wings goalie Chris Osgood sprawls to make a save on Oilers rookie Taylor Hall in the dying moments...

Wings goalie Chris Osgood sprawls to make a save on Oilers rookie Taylor Hall in the dying moments of the game at Rexall Place last night. (QMI Agency/Jordan Verlage)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

EDMONTON - Just like they scripted it.

Just like they’ve scripted it all season.

Give up the first goal.

Get pounded on the shot clock.

Dig a big hole.

Look like they’re out of it.

Come out flying in the third period.

Launch the furious comeback.

Turn the last five minutes into a frantic scramble.

Lose.

Start the post-game interviews lamenting their slow start or costly lapse (whichever is applicable).

“We have really good third periods, we come back all the time, but it would be nice to have the lead once in a while,” said Magnus Paajarvi. “We have to step it up in the second, really take control of the game like we do in the third. It’s almost like we’re hitting the ON button. I wish I knew the answer.”

Yup. It was Groundhog Day and deja vu all over again all rolled into one frustrating flashback Tuesday when the Oilers lost a 5-3 heartbreaker to the Detroit Red Wings.

They erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period, only to give up a flukey game winner at 17:10 and the insurance marker at 17:54.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

“We have to talk within the team and see what’s wrong and go from there,” said Paajarvi. “It’s really easy to get frustrated right now, but it’s really important that we stay patient because we do play good hockey sometimes. We do have really good things going on sometimes. We just have to get rid of the bad things. Once we get that little edge it will turn a lot of things around.”

The Oilers, limping into the contest on their third six-game losing streak of the season (not easy when you’re only 39 games in) rallied from 3-1 down on third period goals by Theo Peckham and Sam Gagner. But the fun ended when Todd Bertuzzi’s centering pass hit Ladislav Smid’s skate and banked in at 17:10, followed 44 seconds later by Helm’s wrist shot.

“We had that game tied,” said Taylor Hall. “That seems to be our trademark comeback, from two goals. We played really well in the third but they got those goals that just sunk us. That goal that went in off Smider’s skate is a symbol of how things are kind of going right now.”

It was 1-1 after 20 minutes and still anyone’s game before Edmonton sagged badly in the second. They were being outshot 23-9 when the Wings went up 3-1 on goals from Bertuzzi and Draper.

“When you go into the game with the mentality of trying not to lose, trying to just kind of hang around against a team like Detroit, it’s going to give them chances to score goals,” said Gagner. “We have to get the confidence back to know we can play with any team in the league and beat them. At times tonight I thought we controlled the play.”

They usually do in the third. So what happens in the second intermission that doesn’t happen earlier.

“I don’t know,” said Peckham. “I couldn’t tell you what it is. That’s one of our struggles, keeping it going for an entire game. Once we figure that out we’ll start stringing some wins together.”

Right now the string is full of losses — seven in a row and nine of the last 10.

“I wasn’t here last year, and I’m not sure how many games we’ve lost in a row, but it sure doesn’t seem like (a major slump),” said Hall. “We believe in ourselves and we’ve been in every single game.”

They’ve been in 19 one-goal games (not counting empty netters) and lost 13 of them.

“The teams at the bottom of the league tend to have those one-goal losses before they start winning again,” said Hall. “I think if you remember back to when we were winning, we were winning games that maybe we shouldn’t have. Now we’re losing some games that we have a really good chance to win.”


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