The Edmonton Oilers have salvaged a point in each contest of a three-game losing streak, but after dropping out of playoff position in the Western Conference, that’s of little comfort.
On Tuesday, the Oilers host the St. Louis Blues, who have pulled within a point of Edmonton in the standings.
Since a 4-1 win over Toronto on March 7, the Oilers (32-27-9) have dropped three straight in overtime, including a 3-2 home loss to Colorado on Saturday.
“It was just a missed opportunity early,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We had a great opportunity to win the game early, but after that it was just poor playmaking. We didn’t make enough plays from breakouts on through. And the faceoffs, it’s hard to sustain anything when you can’t win those.
“It’s a point, but it wasn’t a great effort.”
MacTavish’s team fell into ninth place in the West following Nashville’s win Monday. Edmonton is one point behind eighth-place Dallas and two back of the seventh-place Predators.
If the Oilers are to get back on track, they’ll have to start playing better short-handed. Edmonton has given up 10 power-play goals over the last seven games while killing off only 13 penalties. Both of Colorado’s regulation goals Saturday came on the man advantage.
“You have this ominous feeling when you do take a penalty,” MacTavish said. “You try to avoid that mentality but it’s reinforced by goals against. … It’s deflating.
“The strategy’s there, it’s just the execution. … We need to execute better in those situations.”
MacTavish and the Oilers now try to slow the Blues, who appear to be hitting their stride. Two weeks ago, St. Louis (32-29-8) was in 12th place in the West, but the Blues have won four of their last six to remain in contention for their first postseason berth since 2004.
St. Louis defeated Minnesota 5-3 at home Sunday. The Blues were 3-for-7 on the power play, and scored three times in the second period. Brad Boyes had a goal and an assist and goaltender Chris Mason needed to stop only 19 shots to improve to 10-4-1 in his last 15 starts
“This is the way we’re going to have to play,” said Blues center Andy McDonald, who had two assists. “We can’t afford to lose hockey games, especially two in a row. We let it go after last night and turned around and got prepared for today.”
St. Louis plays its next three games in Western Canada, also visiting Vancouver and Calgary this week. The Blues are 1-5-2 against those teams this season, including 0-2-1 against Edmonton.
The Oilers have won their last six meetings with St. Louis overall. Roloson has a 1.30 goals-against average in the three victories this season, including a 21-save effort in a 2-1 victory Jan. 11 at Rexall Place.