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Oilers still searching for consistent, 60-minute efforts

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The only thing consistent about the Edmonton Oilers of late has been their inconsistency.

The Oilers have alternated between winning and losing in their past eight games. They host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Rexall Place, having lost to 2-1 in overtime against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"The ups and downs of our team are sometimes understood and sometimes not," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "The last game against Calgary was a head-shaker for all of us. We thought we made some progress, we were feeling very good about ourselves and we made some knucklehead plays that cost us some offense."

The Oilers have managed to put together just two winning streaks this season.

They won two straight in late October, beating the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens on the tail end of a six-game road trip. In mid-November, the Oilers won three straight, beating the Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers.

Since then, the Oilers have alternated, losing a game and winning the next.

"We have to find the things that we do right in the games that go well for us and apply them all the time," Oilers center Mark Arcobello said. "We can't take nights off, away from doing the simple things and the right things. I think it's just a matter of putting it together the way we know how to play, every single night."

There has been little middle ground for the Oilers during their recent stretch. In their past four wins, they have outscored opponents 18-5. The Oilers have also been outscored 17-6 in their past four losses. They beat the Colorado Avalanche 8-2 prior to losing to the Flames.

"We've been trying to get into that groove where we play a consistent game for 60 minutes," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "There are some games that we really do and others that we don't. We just have to get to the point that we're confident enough to play that way throughout the whole game, no matter who we're playing.

"It's something that we need to work on. I think we're getting a little bit better at being more consistent, but we still have to take some steps here."

The game against the Hurricanes on Tuesday is the fourth in a five-game homestand for the Oilers. They'll host the Boston Bruins on Thursday before departing on a four-game road trip.

The Oilers will be without defenseman Jeff Petry, who sustained a concussion in the loss to the Flames. They are still without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, recovering from his own head and neck injury sustained in a win against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 1. Center Boyd Gordon is also out with a shoulder injury.

Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal for the Oilers. Cam Ward is expected to start for the Hurricanes, who were shut out 2-0 by the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

"We just need to continue to realize what works for us," Dubnyk said. "It was great to score eight goals against Colorado and we certainly deserved to win that game, but we have to look at the good things we did to win that game. Things were obviously going our way that night, but it's important to see what we did to get the lead going into the third period."

Here are the expected lineups for the Oilers and Hurricanes.


Jeff SkinnerEric StaalTuomo Ruutu

Nathan GerbeJordan StaalElias Lindholm

Jiri TlustyManny MalhotraRadek Dvorak

Patrick DwyerRiley NashKevin Westgarth

Andrej SekeraJustin Faulk

Ron HainseyRyan Murphy

Jay HarrisonTim Gleason

Cam Ward

Justin Peters

Scratched: Drayson Bowman

Injured: Mike Komisarek (lower body), Alexander Semin (concussion), Brett Bellemore (concussion), Anton Khudobin (lower body), Joni Pitkanen (heel)


Taylor HallSam GagnerNail Yakupov

David PerronRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Jesse JoensuuMark ArcobelloAles Hemsky

Ryan SmythAnton LanderRyan Jones

Andrew FerencePhilip Larsen

Nick SchultzJustin Schultz

Anton BelovCorey Potter

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Martin Marincin

Injured: Ilya Bryzgalov (head/neck), Boyd Gordon (shoulder), Jeff Petry (concussion), Richard Bachman (groin)

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