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Game Preview: Blue Jackets begin Western Canada swing in Edmonton

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets will resume their schedule post-All Star Weekend with a three-game trip through western Canada.

First, the Blue Jackets will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night at Rexall Place, marking their final game in Edmonton's historic arena. Then, they travel to Vancouver to play the Canucks on Thursday and wrap up the trip on Friday night in Calgary against the Flames.

The Blue Jackets and Oilers have not faced each other since last season, but more on that later.

It was a busy offseason in Edmonton, and the Oilers made headlines early on when they selected Connor McDavid first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. McDavid was injured early into the 2015-16 campaign but is projected to return to game action soon. Before his injury, McDavid scored five goals and added seven assists for 12 points in 13 games.

In the meantime, the Oilers’ offensive power has been generated by several players including All-Star Taylor Hall (18 goals, 30 assists), Leon Draisaitl (12 goals, 25 assists), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (eight goals, 22 assists) and Teddy Purcell (11 goals, 18 assists).

For the Blue Jackets, their top goal-scorers continue to be a handful of players including All-Star Brandon Saad (19 goals), Scott Hartnell, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner (17 goals each). Those players all played major roles in the Blue Jackets' modest two-game win-streak: a home-and-home sweep of the Montreal Canadiens before the break.

The last time the Blue Jackets and the Oilers faced off was Mar. 18, 2015, at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The game marked the second shootout win for Columbus over Edmonton in the span of five days, and the first of three straight wins on the western Canada trip (the first time in franchise history that Columbus had done so).

Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney’s performance was the highlight of the night. He registered a career-high 44 saves in regulation and overtime, and then made two more to seal a 4-3 win for Columbus in the shootout. The game marked the Blue Jackets’ first victory in Edmonton since Jan. 7, 2010.

Alexander Wennberg, for the second straight game against the Oilers, scored the game-winning goal in the shootout. In this game, it was a backhand deke and a shot under the crossbar that beat Ben Scrivens and secured the extra point.

Taylor Hall represented the Oilers this year at the All-Star Game in Nashville, and has been the team’s most impactful forward this season.

His 48 points in 50 games lead all Oilers and only Draisaitl, 11 points behind, is anywhere near him in that regard. Six of those 18 goals have been the game-winning tallies.

In his previous five games, he scored two goals and added five assists for seven points - the highlight coming in a three-point performance (including the game-winning goal) on Jan. 18 at Florida.

The 24-year-old currently leads the Oilers in both goals and assists, and is on pace for one of the best seasons of his career thus far. Hall was selected by Edmonton first overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, and is in the midst of his sixth season with the team.

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