SHAWINIGAN, Que. — One bad goal in a one-shot game was a tipoff that was not Laurent Brossoit and the Edmonton Oil Kings' night.
Members of the Oil Kings beat could scarcely recall Brossoit, who's as stolid as all get out, letting in a softer goal than Zack Phillips' opening tally in Saint John's eventual 5-2 win at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Edmonton came out of the first tied and was down a goal throughout nearly all of the third. But the Phillips goal and the two turnovers that led to Sea Dogs salvos were examples of Edmonton writing cheques it couldn't cash against the defending champs. Now the Oil Kings need a bounce back for Tuesday's tilt vs. the London Knights, which could help send the victor to Sunday's final and will put the loser in the tiebreaker game. London is in a similar state, coming off a loss where its all-everything goalie Michael Houser also betrayed that he actually puts his uniform on in the dressing room instead changing in a phone booth.
"I try to look at every game as a clean slate," said Brossoit, who stopped 29-of-33 shots and kept Edmonton in the hunt by padding away Stanislav Galiev's breakaway bid early in the third period. "I just have to do what I do.
"Every game's huge at this stage going forward. London, they're a good team. We have a lot of confidence in our squad to come back. Throughout the season we didn't lose too many games in a row. I think we can come back strong."
Phillips said prior to the game the Sea Dogs had been "too cute" against London last Saturday. So 4:23 in, he tried shooting from an acute angle. It eluded Brossoit, who also gave a dicey five-hole goal against Shawinigan in the opener.
Saint John's third goal was also a pinball tally. Charlie Coyle's shot went off a player on each team before it squeaked by Brossoit's glove, with Danick Gauthier getting the credit.
"I was trying to look past Marky [defenceman Mark Pysyk]," the Calgary Flames pick said when asked about the two goofy goals. "He [Phillips] shot the puck while I didn't have sight of it and lucky for them it went in the net. That third one, it bounced a couple of times. I couldn't tell you if it was ice-related. He [Coyle] shot it and it hit our guy, hit their guy and just snuck past."
Rough second period
This tournament is still wide-open thanks to an unprecedented four-way tie after four days. Edmonton's tight turnaround and uneven outputs are hardly confidence-inspiring to those who aren't privy to what actually goes on within the team. Their Achilles heel in both games has been the second period. They were outchanced 9-5 in the middle frame when Saint John got goals in transition from Gauthier and Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau. (For the game, it was 21-12 overall)
On Friday vs. Shawinigan, they were outchanced 5-1 in Period 2.
"I don't know what it is — we should be able to play a full 60 minutes, it's part of our job description," said Edmonton winger Stephane Legault, who scored a goal. "We didn't play our best and it cost us the hockey game.
"It's a huge game [Tuesday]," Legault added. "It's the difference between 2-1 and 1-2."
Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal did not name names but referred to his team having some "passengers." The mistakes that burned the Oil Kings were the exact kind that the London Knights eat for lunch.
"The first goal, we don't get the puck in at the blue line, they come down, they shoot one from the goal line, the puck goes in," Laxdal said. "The second one, we don't get the puck in at the blue line, they hit Huberdeau on a breakaway and it makes it 2-1. So we're kind of behind the 8-ball. We shot ourselves in the foot.
"I'm not going to blame it on the ice. I blame it on our stubbornness with not wanting to get pucks deep and establish a forecheck. We're playing a London team that thrives on turnovers so we better learn quick."
It's open to question whether even league playoffs can be used as a precedent in a tournament. Edmonton has some very recent experience with coming all the way back from a disappointing loss. They beat the Portland Winterhawks in Game 7 of the WHL final on May 14 after losing on a late third-period goal the previous evening.
"We pressed and we weren't quite there," Legault recalled of that Game 6 at the Rose Garden. "But we came back and won it the next night. Obviously this is different but I think we can do it again."
Like Brossoit said, the Oil Kings seldom stay in a downward spiral. They have lost consecutive games only three times all season, with just one three-loss skein. London has lost consecutive games only twice. But someone is nearing their breaking point after letting opportunities slip by these past two nights. The Memorial Cup does that to the best of 'em.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.