Jackets Face Reigning Conference Champs Tonight
They'll look to avoid a third straight loss when they meet the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place on Saturday.
The Oilers won the first four games of a season-high seven-game homestand to extend a winning streak to a season-high five games. They've lost the last two, though, including an embarrassing 7-3 loss to Colorado on Thursday.
"It was a disgrace," forward Ryan Smyth said. "I don't know exactly why we can't get up for a game like that. It's a divisional game and we should be coming out with a sense of urgency and we never had that."
It was the first time Edmonton (13-9-2) had allowed seven goals in a game since a 7-1 loss to the Avalanche on Oct. 21, 2005. The Oilers are still in first place in the Northwest Division with 28 points, one more than slumping Minnesota, but Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish still is dissatisfied.
"When you have been playing the way we had been playing, you are ultimately going to have to face the reaper," MacTavish said after the loss to the Avalanche. "The opposition hadn't been scoring on some of the quality chances we had been giving up, but tonight it came crashing down.
"If you are struggling offensively, that's one thing. But we were cutting a lot of corners. Our checking in the neutral zone was lackluster, casual and lazy. Hopefully, this is all that we need to snap us back to the attention-to-detail part of the game that we have to have to have success."
Though they're the defending Western Conference champion, the Oilers' hold on first place may soon be gone. After Saturday's contest, Edmonton plays five of its next seven games on the road - where they're only 3-6-1 this season.
Behind two goals by Smyth, the Oilers beat Columbus 4-1 on Nov. 10. They've won five of the last seven meetings between the teams and have only four losses in 21 games against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus (6-16-2) has dropped the first two games of a season-high five-game road trip and enters this contest looking to avoid its 11th loss in 12 games overall.
The Blue Jackets lost 1-0 to Vancouver on Tuesday, then blew a one-goal lead by allowing Calgary to score twice in the third period of a 2-1 loss on Friday.
Columbus, which has lost five straight on the road, is 1-3 under new coach Ken Hitchcock, who hasn't seemed to find an answer yet for the Blue Jackets' offensive woes.
Defenseman Ron Hainsey scored a power-play goal for Columbus, but the team is still 5-for-57 with the man advantage over the last 10 games.
"They outworked us, got it to turn it over, and the result was no real pressure from us on the power-play in the final two periods," Hainsey said.
Columbus gave up the lead when goaltender Pascal Leclaire surrendered goals to Jarome Iginla and Chuck Kobasew less than three minutes apart in the third. Columbus also failed to capitalize on two power-play chances in the period.
"The last 12 minutes after Jarome (Iginla) tied it up, the wheels came off a little bit, we were really scrambling in front of our net," Hainsey said.