Ducks paddle Oilers

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller makes a stop on Oilers forward Lennart Petrell at the Honda Center in...

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller makes a stop on Oilers forward Lennart Petrell at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., March 5, 2012. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:58 AM ET

ANAHEIM - It’s tempting to look at Anaheim’s 10-1 record against the Oilers in their last 11 meetings and wax on about their mastery over Edmonton.

But when a team finishes 30th, 30th and 29th, it’s going to have a crappy record against a lot of teams. The Ducks are nothing special.

And neither was this loss. Their 4-2 lesson at the Honda Center was just another garden-variety Oilers defeat in which they couldn’t generate anything five-on-five, couldn’t draw a penalty and compounded their situation by handing over easy goals to the other guys.

Really easy goals.

“On the nights where we only have one guy who at the wrong time (doesn’t play smart) it’s a problem for us,” said head coach Tom Renney, who had a lot more than one guy lost in space in this one. “You can say we’re growing up but sooner or later you have to arrive.”

Edmonton played reasonably well for the most part, battled hard and pounded Anaheim with shots (22 in the second period alone) but couldn’t solve Jonas Hiller and couldn’t get out of their own way when it counted.

“You’re looking at one team that’s playing for the playoffs and one that’s not desperate enough to make the smart plays at the right times,” said Shawn Horcoff. “It’s disappointing, especially given the effort. We feel we’re a better team than where we’re at, we just don’t play games the smart way. You can’t give them easy offence to get their momentum back and we did exactly that.”

Bad line changes, long, long breakaways, pulling the goalie and seeing the puck in the back of your net before he even makes it to the bench. The Oilers served up all of it. When you struggle as hard to score as Edmonton does, dishing out freebies is no way to win … which is why they’re not winning.

“The chances they get were kind of five-star chances,” said Sam Gagner. “It really costs us when you make mistakes like that; it’s tough to give those chances up., and tough to ask Khabby to stop them. We’re playing solid, but we just seem to give up the big chance and it’s unacceptable and it’s costing us games.”

Anaheim’s first goal was a classic. The Ducks had the puck at centre on a power play, but Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Andy Sutton all decided to change, ambling over to the bench like they’d iced it. Suddenly it was Khabibulin against everyone else.

“Four on nothing,” seethed Renney. “On a penalty kill...”

“We talked about it in here,” said Horcoff. “We thought Smytty was going to get it deep and he didn’t get all the wood he could on it. But, having said that, a couple of guys have to stay out there. You can’t have four guys changing at once.”

Edmonton tied it in the second on Horcoff’s long deflection, but gave up three more easy ones in the third - including a long Bobby Ryan breakway and an empty netter that was in the net before Khabibulin had left the ice to lose for the fourth time in five games.

Edmonton’s third period power play ended a string of almost seven full periods without one — they went the third period against St. Louis, all of the Dallas game and 58 minutes of this one without seeing the other team called for a minor.

“Maybe we should have a yard sale and throw sticks and gloves in the air and make it look like somebody shot us before we get a call,” said Renney. “It’s not even reasonable to think that we wouldn’t be on the power play in the last three games.”

Edmonton finally had a power play with just over two minutes left in the third, seven periods after their last one.

Jordan Eberle scored on it.

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ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca


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