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The Edmonton Oilers are still in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference, but they haven't been making things easy on themselves lately.
The Oilers look to break out of their funk and bounce back from another tough loss as they continue their four-game road trip against the stumbling Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
On Feb. 16, Edmonton (31-26-6) was tied for sixth in the West, and was just one point behind fifth-place Dallas. Since then, the Oilers have gone 2-3-2.
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Edmonton now is tied for seventh with Nashville and Anaheim, and has dropped six points behind fifth-place Vancouver.
One of the biggest reasons for the Oilers' struggles has been their power-play unit, which has gone without a goal in 24 opportunities over their last six games. This is Edmonton's longest stretch without a man-advantage tally since going 0-for-27 over nine straight games from Feb. 25-March 15, 2007.
The Oilers opened their swing Tuesday with a 6-5 overtime loss to Nashville in a game that featured four lead changes and five ties.
"It's a tough point to lose, but at this point we can't really look back," said Edmonton center Sam Gagner, who had a goal and two assists. "We have to look forward to our next games and hopefully pull out a few wins."
The Oilers, though, have not defeated Ottawa (23-29-10) since March 14, 2004. They've lost the last three meetings, including a 3-2 defeat on Dec. 30.
Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson finished with 37 saves Tuesday but appeared to be injured after being hit in the head with a puck on a shot just before Jason Arnott's game-winner. Roloson has gone 9-7-3 with a 2.82 goals-against average in making 19 straight starts for the Oilers, but rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers could get the start.
Drouin-Deslauriers hasn't won since Nov. 10, when he beat the New York Rangers in a shootout. He's 0-2-0 with a 5.46 GAA in four games after that.
The Senators could also be without their starting goalie, as Alex Auld fell ill in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to Calgary and left before the start of the third period. He stopped just 11 of 15 shots.
Rookie Brian Elliott, who allowed one goal on seven shots in the third, is 0-1-1 with a 5.18 GAA in five games since a win over Philadelphia on Feb. 12.
Prior to Wednesday's trade deadline, Ottawa acquired what may be their new starting goaltender in 2009-10, getting Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick in the 2009 draft from Columbus for center Antoine Vermette.
Leclaire went 4-6-1 with a 3.83 GAA for the Blue Jackets before being sidelined by an ankle injury that required surgery on Jan. 23. He is not expected to play this season.
The Senators on Wednesday also signed veteran defenseman Filip Kuba, who has two goals and 27 assists in 54 games, to a new, three-year contract. Kuba, Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno scored Tuesday for Ottawa, which lost its third in a row.
The Senators are 0-2-1 since opening a season-high eight-game homestand with a 4-2 victory over Carolina on Feb. 24.
Edmonton also made a couple of moves before the deadline.
Erik Cole, who scored with 6:08 remaining in regulation Tuesday to tie it at 5, was traded to Carolina for Patrick O'Sullivan and a second-round pick. The Oilers also acquired Ales Kotalik from Buffalo for a second-round pick in the draft.
|Mar 05 '09||EDM 2 at OTT 4||C. Campoli|
|Dec 30 '08||OTT 3 at EDM 2||B. Lee|