Oilers-Blue Jackets Preview

The Associated Press

The Edmonton Oilers have been eliminated from playoff contention but they're still making some noise as the season winds down.

The Oilers will try to continue their recent success Sunday by snapping a five-game road losing streak against the only team beneath them in the Western Conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Edmonton's drive to end a six-year postseason drought officially ended before its visit to first-place Florida on Friday. Still, the Oilers (30-36-9) spoiled the Panthers' hopes of adding to their Southeast Division lead with a 2-1 shootout victory.

Rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisted on Ryan Jones' goal early in the second period and was the only player to score in the tiebreaker. The result pushed Edmonton to 4-0-2 in its last six games and 6-1-2 over its past nine on the road.

"We want to finish out this season strong and I feel like this past stretch of games has gone really well for us," Nugent-Hopkins said.

Among the Oilers' recent victories was a 3-0 blanking of the Blue Jackets on March 14. Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves during his second shutout while Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist.

Dubnyk is 8-3-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average over his last 12 starts and might get the chance to try to help end his team's 0-3-2 skid in Columbus. Edmonton has won two of three in this season's series but blew a two-goal lead during its visit to Nationwide Arena on Jan. 17.

Derek MacKenzie scored the tiebreaking goal for the Blue Jackets (24-43-7) early in the third period of that game, but he's currently dealing with a concussion.

Columbus enters this matchup 2-5-0 in its last seven games, but routed Carolina 5-1 on Friday behind R.J. Umberger's third career hat trick and first since Nov. 30, 2009.

The Blue Jackets had been outscored 19-7 over their previous six contests.

"We've taken a lot of flak over the last six games for not scoring any goals," Umberger said. "Honestly, I felt like one of these nights was coming because we had a lot of chances. I know, myself, I had chance after chance. We just weren't scoring goals. Tonight, it just seemed like everything lined up right."

Steve Mason also won for the sixth time in eight appearances this month and could make his first against Edmonton this season Sunday. Mason is 4-2-0 in his last six matchups with the Oilers despite a 3.34 goals-against average.

Dubnyk, meanwhile, is 3-1-1 with a 1.98 GAA in his last five games against Columbus, while Nikolai Khabibulin is 4-1-2 with a 2.75 GAA in his last seven matchups.

Jones recorded his only career hat trick during a 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets on Dec. 2, with all of those goals coming in the third period. The Oilers tallied five times in that frame and Columbus' Derek Dorsett scored his second goal of the game with nine minutes left.

Edmonton's Ales Hemsky has 12 goals and 36 points against the Blue Jackets, his most in both categories versus any opponent.

The Oilers' last win in Columbus was a 7-2 drubbing Nov. 18, 2008

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