It would have been easy for the hapless Edmonton Oilers to just let their three-game losing streak stretch into four.

Not only had they just come off a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals one night earlier they were in the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins who outshot the Oilers 15-3 in the first 20 minutes.

But the Oilers battled back and really deserved a better fate than a 3-2 loss Tuesday night at the Consol Energy Center.

Instead they’ll drag a 1-5-1 record to their next stop on the six-game roadtrip: a Thursday night meeting with the New York Islanders.

The three goals against was the fewest the Oilers have allowed in seven starts this season.

“We battled hard we did a few good things and (goaltender Jason LaBarbera) gave us a chance to stay in the game to be in the game but in the end it’s not enough” said Ales Hemsky who scored his second goal of the season.

“We should have won some of the games we could have but didn’t and it’s hurt us. It looks bad on us. If we play like that in our next games we will get some lucky breaks and win some.

“We did battle hard and we had a goalie today too.”

Head coach Dallas Eakins adjusted his line combinations inserting Nail Yakupov back into the mix as well as Ryan Jones who was called up from the Oklahoma City farm team and sent LaBarbera back out to man the net for the second straight night.

It took just three shots and 188 seconds before the Penguins’ Pascal Dupuis put a shot past the LaBarbera who finished with 25 saves — not all of which were executed with the confidence of Marc-Andre Fleury at the other end of the rink.

But given that the Oilers came into the game with a league-high 29 goals against it was a sign of improvement for a team clinging to the notion that the tide will eventually turn.

“It wasn’t good enough. We didn’t win” said LaBarbera. “Every one of us needs to fire it up a bit more and find a way to get a win.”

“Obviously disappointing when you’re struggling to get wins. When you play a lot better and don’t get the two points it’s tough” said centre Boyd Gordon. “We just have to keep pushing forward. It’s just tough. Losing is no fun.”

Chris Kunitz with a second-period marker and Evgeni Malkin with a one-timer on the power play in the third period improved the Penguins’ record to 5-1.

The Oilers controlled much of the second frame outshooting the Penguins 12-4 and pulling even at 1-1 when Hemsky fired David Perron’s rebound past Fleury. Jordan Eberle sent the teams to the second intermission tied 2-2.

“I thought LaBarbera battled hard. He was in the fight in the net” Eakins said.

LaBarbera didn’t have a chance on the deciding goal which was scored after Oilers defenceman Andrew Ference clipped Sidney Crosby with a high stick. Defenceman Paul Martin fanned on the puck and it instead ended up on Malkin’s stick.

The Oilers have given up at least one power-play goal in every game this year which isn’t sitting well with Eakins particularly since Edmonton killed off the first two short-handed situations.

“It’s a fanned shot and it goes right to the most dangerous guy on the ice” said Eakins.