Oilers end losing skid with win over Blue Jackets

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Edmonton Oilers needed a quick end to their five-game losing streak before falling too far behind in this shortened season. Thankfully, Columbus arrived on the Oilers' schedule at just the right time.
Despite long stretches of disjointed play, and after a third-period scare, the Oilers pulled away with two goals in the final three minutes to win 3-1 before 14,364 in Nationwide Arena.
Edmonton had been 0-2-3 in its last five, four of them on the road. But goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who had a season-high 39 saves, put an end to it.
"You start questioning things and your confidence level goes down," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said. "You want it too badly and you start giving things away.
"Sometimes to get out of a funk like that you need a win like this, which is roll your sleeves up and just play to the end."
Ales Hemsky, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagne scored for the Oilers, who now play their next five games at home.
Dubnyk's only goal allowed was at 9:43 of the third, a wrister from the slot by Blue Jackets winger R.J. Umberger to make it 1-1. Otherwise, he was impervious.
"You need a goalie to steal one for you once in a while," Krueger said. "We were really flat as a team and he was world-class, even after the 1-1 goal."
Dubnyk was given a day off Saturday when the Oilers played in Detroit. He looked rejuvenated.
"It was a fun game to play," he said. "A little more work than usual, but that's how you have to win games sometimes. That's my job."
Columbus, almost done with a miserable six-game homestand (1-3-1), did just about everything right except score.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Oilers 40-14, holding Edmonton without a shot on goal for 21 minutes, 3 seconds during a stretch between the second and third periods.
"We did a lot of good things tonight," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "This is where, as a coach, you're really disappointed you didn't get the result because the guys I think did a lot of the right thing tonight.
"We played with energy. We were physical. I know they were coming of a game (Saturday in Detroit), so maybe they were fatigued. But we spent time in our zone and didn't spend a lot of time in ours."
Edmonton struck first at 13:58 of the first period, when Hemsky pounced on a rebound off a Taylor Hall shot and beat Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky between the pads.
The play started when Hall picked off a pass from Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski deep in his own zone.
The game settled into a disorganized mess for long stretches after Hemsky's goal. The Blue Jackets' forecheck flustered the Oilers at times, but when they did find open the ice the Oilers made too many passes and tried to get too creative with the puck
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a shot on goal at 9:28 of the second period. After that, the Oilers next shot was a short wrister by Hall at 10:31 of the third.
Umberger's first goal of the season swung momentum the Jackets' way, especially when they went on a power play with 4:45 remaining and the score tied 1-1.
Instead, the Oilers took the lead for good when Wisniewski let the puck get behind him, sending Edmonton's Sam Gagne off on a prime short-handed chance. Paajarvi, the trailer on the play, blistered Gagne's set-up to make it 2-1 with 3:10 to play.
It was Paajarvi's first goal since Feb. 19, 2012.
Gagner was rewarded just a few minutes later. His empty-net goal with 12.1 seconds remaining capped the scoring.
NOTES: Wisniewski returned to the Blue Jackets' lineup only a week after sustaining a concussion in a violent collision with the endboards against Detroit on Feb. 2. He also suffered a bruised hip, lower back and elbow, but missed only two games. ... In 30 career games vs. Columbus, Hemsky has 13 goals and 24 assists. ... Center Eric Belanger (foot) and defenseman Mark Fistric (back) returned to the Oilers lineup after missing the previous two games. ... The Blue Jackets are almost done with their season-long, six-game homestand. After last Sunday's loss, they're 1-3-1.

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