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Aftermath: Sp’oilers

by Brian McCormack / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were out-shot and outplayed for long stretches of Wednesday night’s contest in Edmonton, but they weren’t outscored. And thus, with their second shootout win over the Oilers in less than a week, the Jackets pulled out a 4-3 win for their first victory at Rexall Place since January 2010.

The parallels to last Friday at Nationwide Arena were everywhere you looked, from a blown two-goal Jackets lead, to a Nail Yakupov goal to put the Oilers ahead in the third, to a Jackets recovery and a shootout-winner from Alexander Wennberg. The Jackets now head to Vancouver to try to put an end to their troubles at Rogers Arena, where they are 0-4-3 in their last seven visits.

Curtis McElhinney
had a lot of work to do in Edmonton, and he gave the Blue Jackets a chance to win. After David Savard’s goal on Columbus’ first shot of the game, the Oilers dominated possession for the remainder of the frame and outshot the Jackets 14-4 by period’s end. Ryan Johansen netted his first goal in eight games to extend the Blue Jacket lead, but then it was again all Oilers outshooting the Jackets 12-4 for the remainder of that frame.

“It was a lot of shots but sometimes that helps you get into the game. I think a tough thing for me lately has been the first period so to get through the first was big,” said McElhinney after his first start since Mar. 7. “It was a nice game for me, and I needed a bounce-back game.”

The Jackets' goaltender made 44 saves in regulation and overtime and closed the door on Derek Roy to close the shootout. McElhinney is now 5-0-0 against the Oilers in his career, and he was a critical force in bringing Columbus two points in a very similar fashion to last week’s job by Sergei Bobrovsky.

“They took it to us most of the night,” said center Mark Letestu, who answered Yakupov’s goal with one of his own to tie the game in the third. “I think (McElhinney) stole one for us tonight.”

Again, it was Wennberg streaking in on Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens with an opportunity to put the Blue Jackets in front in the shootout. And while last time it was a quick flick of the wrist from the rookie that put the Jackets in front, tonight he took some lessons from the Jackets’ other prime shootout weapon.

“I’ve been watching (Johansen) do similar things and it’s a hard thing for the goalie to catch up to. So I just tried to do the same thing,” said Wennberg after the game.

Johansen had skated in on the prior turn and, in his typical fashion, won a staring contest with Scrivens. Johansen out-waited Scrivens before quickly pulling the puck to his backhand and flipping it behind him. Similarly, Wennberg moved in slowly and circled his stick above the puck before he too brought the puck to his backhand and threw it up under the bar and over a sprawled Scrivens.

It was Wennberg’s second winner, and the Jackets are now 7-2 in the shootout this season.

Todd Richards was not thrilled with his team’s discipline in this one. Though the Jackets’ lack of legs might be in part due to travel, their time in the penalty box did not make their lives any easier. As Richards noted, a tired bench is even more difficult to manage when the team is constantly killing penalties.

Against the league’s top power play since the All-Star break, the Blue Jackets went down a man six times. That led to just one power play goal for the Oilers but also the momentum to tie the game. The Jackets have now surrendered power play goals in nine straight games, giving up 15 in that span.

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