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Stopping slow starts

by Chris Wescott @TheChrisWescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer

Edmonton is still atop the Pacific Division with 19 points and a 9-5-1 record. They have lost two games in a row, however, and one big area in need for improvement is the goals allowed early or late in games.

"We've had seven games where we've given up a goal in the first two or three minutes," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Obviously, our starts and our awareness at the beginning of games aren't where we need them to be. That starts with the coaching staff having the team ready to go and prepared, and after that I think it goes to the individuals. Not the leadership group, but individuals coming to the rink and understanding the urgency and intensity of what the game might present. And then it's the leadership group after that."

The Oilers have played eight games this season decided by a goal or two - with the empty-netter. So those early and late goals allowed can be killers.

Against Pittsburgh, Conor Sheary scored 1:57 into the first period. Edmonton lost the game 4-3 with the final Penguins goal coming 18:18 into the third.

In their Friday night loss to Dallas, the Oilers had another slow start, allowing a goal in the opening 28 seconds. They lost the game 3-2.

"We've talked about it, we're trying to fix it, we're very aware of it," said McLellan. "The comment I made to the players today is if we're a growth team and we're trying to get better, those are areas that have to improve.

"Good teams don't give up goals early. Good teams don't give up goals with two or three minutes left in the game. Good teams don't give up goals when you're up by two, eight seconds into a third period. So for me, it's just another indicator that we have work to do."

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