The Columbus Blue Jackets longest winning streak of the season began with a victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Now they'll try to match that run with another win over the Oilers as the teams meet Wednesday at Rexall Place.
The Blue Jackets (21-25-5) shut out Edmonton 4-0 on Dec. 2 to spark a season-best five-game winning streak during which they outscored opponents 21-4. They are now one win away from tying that mark after beating the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday.
Nikolai Zherdev returned after missing one game with the flu to score the deciding goal in the shootout.
"He's going to score on a shootout 70 percent of the time, he's so skilled and he's so patient with the puck," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Goaltender Ty Conklin did his part stopping the puck with 35 saves in just his third start this season. He is expected to be back between the pipes Wednesday with Fredrik Norrena (groin) and Pascal Leclaire(knee) both sidelined by injuries.
Conklin will be facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Blue Jackets in the offseason. Conklin was 27-19-1 with four ties and a 2.49 goals-against average in 60 career games, including 52 starts, for the Oilers over two-plus seasons.
Anson Carter recorded his 200th career goal Tuesday, and Dan Fritsche scored a power-play goal to help the Blue Jackets boost their efficiency on the extra-man advantage to 26.1 percent (6-for-23) during their winning streak. Fritsche, who is riding a four-game scoring streak, notched a goal and two assists in that Dec. 2 win over Edmonton.
"We're showing a lot of mental toughness, we're not giving up too many odd-man rushes and we're getting solid goaltending," Carter said. "When you put those things together, more often than not you should come out with a victory."
The Oilers (24-22-4) used a reunited line to notch a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and rebound from two dismal losses. Edmonton was outscored 9-1 in back-to-back defeats to Calgary and San Jose, but coach Craig MacTavish put Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff back on the same line Saturday, and the trio accounted for nearly every point in the victory.
Smyth had two goals and two assists, Hemsky added a goal and three assists and Horcoff recorded a goal and two assists.
"They were a handful all night," MacTavish said. "We needed a line to step up and they certainly did that for us. We had to make a change and this one made the most sense. They've been hit and miss at times but hopefully they can keep it up together from here."
Backup Jussi Markkanen made 32 saves for the Oilers in the win, but starter Dwayne Roloson will likely be back in goal Wednesday. He has struggled against the Blue Jackets recently, though, dropping six of his last seven starts.
Edmonton, which is concluding a five-game homestand, is 15-10-2 at Rexall Place but just 3-6-1 in its last 10 games there. The Blue Jackets are playing the second of three consecutive games on the road, where they have only three wins in their last 11.
These teams have split two meetings this season, but the Blue Jackets have won three of the last four overall matchups.
- Associated Press