The Blue Jackets scored 10 seconds after the opening faceoff Thursday and had leads of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3. But they couldn't slow down the Oilers, who got a goal and two assists from Sam Gagner as they rallied for a 6-4 victory at Rexall Place.
"To me, it's a game that got away from us," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.
Ales Hemsky scored the go-ahead goal with 3:08 remaining in regulation, beating Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky through the five-hole on the return rush after Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk robbed Cam Atkinson's bid for a hat trick.
"It's a big goal and I'm happy about that, happy we won," Hemsky said. "We knew this game was important for us to stay in the race."
Gagner hit the empty net in the final minute, and the Oilers (13-13-7) pulled even with the Blue Jackets (13-14-7) in the Western Conference standings. Columbus, Edmonton, Dallas and Phoenix all have 33 points, three behind the eighth-place St. Louis Blues.
"If we're going to fight our way back into the playoff race, we need these regulation wins," Gagner said. "It's a big win for us."
Bobrovsky, whose goaltending fueled Columbus' recent 8-0-4 run, had a tough night -- he allowed five goals on 24 shots. Richards said his team's inability to manage the puck was a bigger reason for the loss.
"The first 8-10 minutes we were doing things right, getting the puck in deep and forechecking. Then we started doing things in the middle of the ice. That that resulted in turnovers, and they got a lot of momentum from it.
"That's what we talked about -- managing the puck and making smart decisions. They're a turnover team, a rush team, and we played right into it."
The game couldn't have started better for Columbus.
Atkinson scored on a one-timer before the echoes of "O, Canada" had subsided, then set up Matt Calvert's goal at 12:04 of the first period to give Columbus a 2-0 lead. But Magnus Paajarvi scored on a backhander late in the period to get the Oilers on the board, and Jordan Eberle stepped through the defense before flipping the puck past Bobrovsky 39 seconds into the middle period to make it 2-2.
Calvert appeared to get his second of the night with just under three minutes left in the second when a rebound bounced off Nikolai Khabibulin and hit the Columbus forward's skate as he was being driven into the net; however, a video review waved off the goal, saying Calvert used his skate to kick the puck into the net.
"It was a goal on the ice," Calvert said. "Both [referees] called it a goal. I don't know what they saw."
Added Richards: "I wasn't sure how they were going to view it," he said. "You have to trust how the League reviews the calls."
But Artem Anisimov got a goal that counted with 1:26 left in the period, beating Khabibulin from the right circle, to put the Blue Jackets back in front. The lead lasted 31 seconds before Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff tied the game again by finishing off a pass by Nail Yakupov.
Atkinson got the Blue Jackets off to a fast start in the third period and ended Khabibulin's night by scoring 27 seconds after intermission, but Corey Potter's shot from the blue line somehow went through the five-hole on Bobrovsky at 3:00 to get the Oilers even again.
"They outworked us for the first 10 minutes, but we edged our way back," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's a huge win for us."
Material from team media was used in this report