EDMONTON, Alberta — The first period was awful again, making it a trio of bad starts on this western road swing. Passes didn’t click. Pucks were turned over. Offense wasn’t generated. Special teams proved a detriment.

It left the Islanders struggling for answers after a toothless 4-2 loss to the Oilers on Thursday night at Rogers Place.

“I don’t think we were ready,” Ryan Pulock said. “We didn’t do enough. We were on our heels and they came at us and we weren’t able to get going north.

“If we had the exact answer, we would change it. It’s just a matter of bearing down. It’s a matter of every single guy, individually, having themselves ready to go and play the right way. The way that we play. When we don’t do that, we don’t have a lot of success.”

The Islanders (22-16-2), clinging to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, are 1-2-0 on their four-game trip. If not for Ilya Sorokin (34 saves), this one could have been far worse.

They were 0-for-3 with three shots on the power play. They yielded a shorthanded goal and gave up a man-advantage goal.

Jack Campbell, who carries a subpar save percentage of .878, needed to make only 20 saves for the Oilers (21-17-2). Per NaturalStatTrick.com, the Oilers had an unfathomably ridiculous 21-0 advantage in high-danger chances, including 15-0 skating five-on-five.

The Oilers outshot the Islanders 18-4 and outchanced them 38-10 in the first period while generating 14 high-danger chances, 10 at even strength.

“We’re searching for answers on that,” coach Lane Lambert said about his team’s sleepy starts. “We have to find answers. We knew they were going to come hard. That’s fine. We failed to make little plays to get pucks out of your zone when teams are coming at you hard. It didn’t help that we gave the power play two chances early and they gained a bunch of momentum off of that. We’ve just got to be better. That’s it.”

“We had a bad first period,” said Cal Clutterbuck, who capped the scoring on a deflection with 52.9 seconds left in the second period in his first game since Dec. 16. “We tried to come back and it wasn’t enough.”

More lineup reinforcements may be coming. Right wing Kyle Palmieri, who also suffered an upper-body injury on Dec. 16, participated in the team’s full morning skate, marking his first practice with teammates. Goalie Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his first start since injuring his groin on Dec. 17 when the Islanders conclude this trip against the Flames on Friday night.

Mathew Barzal extended his career-high goal streak to five games with a rising wrist shot from the right circle at 4:42 of the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Dylan Holloway’s one-timer from the high slot through traffic regained a two-goal edge for the Oilers just under four minutes later.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” defenseman Noah Dobson said of the first-period woes. “It’s not good enough to start the game like that. We turned too many pucks over.’’