Edmonton Oilers' Taylor Hall (4) and New York Islanders' Kyle Okposo (21) chase the puck down ice as Islanders' Thomas Hickey (14) follows at left in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y. Hall scored two goals for the Oilers and Okposo scored a goal during the Islanders 3-2 win. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Photograph by: (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek), Canada.com
Ottawa — The season may not be a month old, but the free fall of the Edmonton Oilers is already taking its toll.
As if one win in eight games wasn’t troubling enough, the Oilers play the Ottawa Senators at noon MDT Saturday. The Senators are 3-2-2 after banking two straight wins.
“We just have to find a way to get points pretty soon,” said winger David Perron. “I know it’s early in the year, but you can’t go 10-15 games without getting too many points because it’s too good a league to try and come back.”
The Oilers are in last place in the NHL’s Western Conference and still winless on the road. Following their matinee in Ottawa, they play the Canadiens at Montreal on Tuesday before heading home to host the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
“We only have three points and that’s really frustrating,” said defenceman Ladislav Smid. “We thought we’d be much, much better.
“We have to do whatever it takes to stay positive and find a way to win some games.”
The Oilers left Pittsburgh after a 3-2 loss to the Penguins convinced that they were finally ready to turn the corner, but instead stumbled against the New York Islanders on Thursday. They got a 37-save performance from goaltender Devan Dubnyk and had a 2-1 first-period lead, but fell short in the second and third periods.
The Islanders were on a three-game losing streak before the 3-2 win.
“We have a great skill set, but skills don’t always win you games,” said coach Dallas Eakins. “It’s the will to play the game the right way, and that’s when you have the puck and when you don’t.
“We will play portions of a game where we are excellent and I’m so optimistic on the way we’re going, then we will turn back to our old habits and play by ourselves. And playing alone and just playing with our skill is going to kill you every time.”
Perron said it is a challenge for players with skill to avoid the lure of the highlight reel play.
“It’s frustrating personally, coming from a team where we won a lot, but Dallas is doing a good job of making sure he tells us about some of the positive things that we do,” said Perron, who was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in an off-season trade.
“For this team, it’s trying to find the right balance between taking chances to make plays, because we can’t deny our ability to do that, but at the same time, being smart and playing with the type of structure that’s in place.
“We can’t be too eager to score. We have to wait for the right chances.”
Eakins did adjust his forward lines again at practice on Friday, in search of the right formula. Taylor Hall will play with Mark Arcobello and Perron while Nail Yakupov moves to the left wing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
Ryan Smyth, Boyd Gordon and Ales Hemsky round out the top nine.
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