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GAME DAY: Edmonton

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

BLUE JACKETS (6-12-4) VS. OILERS (8-9-4)




For the Edmonton Oilers, their playoff fate may rest on the results of this nine-game road trip currently in progress. It's a make-or-break stretch of the season and one that will very likely have a significant impact on their ability to stay within striking distance or play themselves out of the race, making it crucial to get something positive out of the trip.

The Oilers' longest trip of this 48-game NHL season began a week ago in Chicago where they had a chance to end the Blackhawks' record-breaking points streak just 24 hours after the Blue Jackets dropped a 1-0 decision at the United Center. Edmonton, like the Blue Jackets, hung tough down the stretch, forcing overtime but losing out on a Marian Hossa tally in the extra session. Next up was a date in big D with the Stars, and the Oilers made quick work of Dallas in a 5-1 win that closed out the month of February.

March has not been any kinder, unfortunately, and the Oilers have lamented their "finding ways to lose games" that they should have won. Two goals in a 23-second span gave them a 2-0 lead in the first period against St. Louis on Friday, but the Blues roared back with four unanswered to win, and there was a similar theme on Sunday afternoon in Minnesota.

The Wild scored early, but the Oilers went into the third period tied 1-1 and thought they had a good chance to win the game. Mikko Koivu then scored the go-ahead goal just nine seconds into the third period, and a goal by Charlie Coyle made it 3-1 six minutes later. Before they knew it, the Oilers were fighting back out of another two-goal deficit -- and that's what they want to stay away from tonight against the Blue Jackets.

Columbus, riding a three-game points streak and coming off a 2-1 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche, is looking for more results after playing in a long stretch of one-goal contests (and coming out on the losing end).

On the injury front, the Oilers placed defenseman Mark Fistric on IR and he has flown back to Edmonton for further evaluation. Taylor Hall is considered questionable for tonight's game against the Blue Jackets with a hip/groin issue and he did not practice yesterday with the club.

Mike Brown, acquired by Edmonton via trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, has arrived in Columbus and is expected to make his Oilers debut tonight.

- In their last meeting with Edmonton (Feb. 10 at Nationwide Arena), the Blue Jackets out-shot the Oilers by a 40-14 margin but came out on the short end of a 3-1 decision. Magnus Paajarvi scored the game-winner while shorthanded with three minutes to play.

- At 26.3 shots per game, the Blue Jackets are looking to generate more opportunities by getting pucks on the target. Their opponent tonight averages 33.8 shots on goal per game, which is tops in the NHL.

- The Blue Jackets were perfect on the PK for the sixth consecutive game on Sunday, successfully killing off both of Colorado’s power play opportunities. Columbus has killed off 15 consecutive penalties dating back to Feb. 18 and now ranks eighth in the NHL with a PK efficiency rate of 84.6 pct.

- Ryan Johansen equaled his season-high face-off victory total vs. Colorado, going 12-for-18 on draws (67%).

Mike Brown


2013 STATS: 0-1-1, 12 GP

The Oilers obviously did not trade for Brown in an attempt to bolster their offense, but they hope he provides speed and grit to their bottom six -- much like he did for the Maple Leafs. The 27-year-old has been a reliable energy player throughout his six years in the NHL,and has accumulated 25 points (14G, 11A), and 519 penalty minutes in 254 career NHL games.

COLUMBUS: Jack Johnson (upper body), on IR; Derick Brassard (upper body); Brandon Dubinsky (knee), on IR; James Wisniewski (foot), on IR

EDMONTON: Taylor Hall (lower body), questionable; Shawn Horcoff (hand), week-to-week; Anton Lander (foot), indefinitely; Corey Potter (head), day-to-day; Nikolai Khabibulin (groin), indefinitely; Teemu Hartikainen (shoulder), day-to-day; Andy Sutton (knee), indefinitely; Mark Fistric (elbow), on IR

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