Petr Sykora seems confident the Edmonton Oilers will put a quick end to their struggles. Perhaps it's because their next matchup is against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sykora and the Oilers have their best remaining chance to get a victory on their season-high seven-game road trip when they face the Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Edmonton (28-26-6), which is eight points behind eighth-place Calgary in the Western Conference, fell to 0-2-2 on its trip with a 4-3 shootout loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night.
After a loss to one of the East's best teams, Edmonton faces a Columbus club which is just two points ahead of Los Angeles for the worst record in the West. The Blue Jackets (23-31-6) enter this matchup having lost seven of nine.
"It's going to turn around ... we're going to start winning a lot of hockey games," Sykora said. "I feel with the effort, we have to win some games. We have to keep our head up and go to Columbus, bring this game and we're going to beat them."
If Edmonton doesn't, this could end up a winless road trip. The final two games come against two of only six teams in the league with more than 20 home victories - at Detroit on Friday and at Minnesota on Sunday.
Sykora had his 33rd career two-goal game Tuesday to end an eight-game goal drought, but failed to score in the shootout. He had a goal in the Oilers' 5-2 win over Columbus on Jan. 31 in the teams' last meeting.
Edmonton has played the Blue Jackets 23 times and lost only five - three in regulation. The Oilers have won two of three meetings this season and won 4-1 on Nov. 10 in the only matchup at Columbus, where they have lost twice in 11 visits.
Edmonton forward Ryan Smyth had two goals in that game in Columbus, and has five in his last seven contests against the Blue Jackets. Smyth leads the team with 29 goals and 49 points.
After a 2-4-0 homestand, the Blue Jackets lost 5-4 in a shootout at St. Louis on Tuesday night for their second straight one-goal defeat.
The Blue Jackets allowed three power-play goals, four goals on rebounds and two in the shootout. They have given up five power-play goals in their opponents' last 16 chances (31.2 percent).
Columbus' penalty-killing unit ranks near the bottom of the league, stopping 80.1 percent of its opponents' chances.
Rick Nash had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. He hasn't scored a goal in his last seven games against the Oilers after finding the net six times in his first seven games against them.
Columbus forward Nikolai Zherdev struggled off the ice about 2 minutes into the second period against the Blues after crashing into the boards, but returned one shift later. He has managed just eight goals in 50 games after scoring 27 times in 73 contests last season.
- Associated Press