In the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers should be highly motivated. They haven’t been playing with much intensity lately, though.
The Oilers look to break out of their offensive funk and avoid their longest losing streak in four months Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Edmonton (29-25-5) was in line to pick up two points Saturday against Northwest Division-leading Calgary, but settled for one as the Flames rallied for a 3-2 shootout victory to hand the Oilers their third straight loss.
Ales Hemsky and Erik Cole each scored for Edmonton, which allowed Calgary to tie the score with 1:05 remaining in regulation. The Oilers then managed just one shot in overtime and all three shootout participants failed to put a shot on goal.
“Over the course of 82 games you’re going to lose a couple in the last minute or two,” said center Shawn Horcoff, who assisted on both Edmonton goals. “We’ll take the point and move on at this point in the season. We don’t have any time to sit and dwell on negatives.”
Edmonton, which has not lost four games in a row since a season-high five-game slide Oct. 22-30, dropped to ninth in the West, one point behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot.
A stagnating offense is the biggest reason for the Oilers’ swoon. They’ve scored two goals in each of their last three games after tallying 13 while winning their previous three contests.
The lack of scoring has made things difficult for goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who is just 4-5-2 in 11 starts this month despite a solid 2.66 goals-against average.
The 11-year veteran stopped 18 shots in Edmonton’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay (20-28-12) on Jan. 22, 2008 - the last time these teams met.
The Oilers have lost four straight to the Lightning since a 3-2 road victory on March 6, 2002. They’ve lost the last two meetings in Edmonton.
Although the Lightning are 13th in the East and 16 points out of a playoff spot, they’re refusing to give up.
Tampa Bay defeated conference-leading Boston 4-3 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak and win for just the third time in 12 games.
“We’re a lot of points out of a playoff spot,” said left wing Vaclav Prospal, who scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 1:33 left. “Right now, for us, it’s just about playing hard every night and come out with an effort that will get us the win.”
Karri Ramo made 40 saves as he continues to prove an effective replacement in goal after injuries to Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig. The Finland native has faced at least 40 shots in each of his last three starts, and turned aside 122 of 132 shots in those contests.
Tampa Bay, which hasn’t won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak Jan. 19-27, now hopes to turn things around on the road.
The Lightning, who open a three-game trip Tuesday, have lost five straight away from Tampa Bay - getting outscored 21-8 in those games - since a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Jan. 12.