OILERS (5-4-3) 3, BLUE JACKETS (3-7-2) 1
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OH
There are only so many ways to cut the cake, and tonight, there was one: Devan Dubnyk stole two points for the Edmonton Oilers.
One could look at the final shots on goal margin (40-14 in favor of the Blue Jackets) or the third period, which was spent primarily in the Oilers zone, but at the end of the day it amounted to a frustrating loss in front of a vocal crowd at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets were on the gallop from the drop of the puck and played like a team that knew its opponent was playing on short rest, finishing checks and getting pucks on the target as often as possible.
Dubnyk, who has won five of his last six starts against Columbus, was marvelous. He held the fort while the Oilers struggled to get their footing and made a handful of 10-bell saves when his teammates were on the ropes. And as Brandon Dubinsky said in the locker room post-game, he felt as if the Blue Jackets handed this game to Edmonton.
The opening goal was a discombobulated sequence that started behind the Blue Jackets' net. James Wisniewski's quick outlet pass was picked off by Taylor Hall, who was camped in the left circle, and Hall chopped the puck toward Sergei Bobrovsky. The rebound came right to Ales Hemsky, who has put up a few points on the Blue Jackets in his career.
Jordan Eberle thought he had the 2-0 goal in the second period, but the goal was disallowed after review due to inconclusive evidence on a high stick. The Blue Jackets kept pushing, but even with some late-period chances on the power play, couldn't dent Dubnyk.
RJ Umberger busted out of an early-season slump with his first goal of the year at 9:43 of the third period, and it was a gem. He dangled through two Oilers in high slot, cut to the left circle and cranked a shot past Dubnyk's stick side to even the score at 1-1, bringing Nationwide Arena back to life.
But their biggest mistake came when they had a golden opportunity.
Sam Gagner made a great play shorthanded to chip the puck past Wisniewski at the right point, and he started a modest 2-on-2 rush into the offensive zone. He started a beautiful combination play that Magnus Paajarvi finished, giving Edmonton a 2-1 lead with 3:10 to play. It was a deflating goal, and after a Gagner empty netter with 13 seconds left, the final score was sealed.
This has to go to the biggest goal of the game, which also happened to be a monumental swing of momentum. The Blue Jackets were bearing down on the Oilers and could have put the game away on the power play, but Gagner's sweet feed to Paajarvi popped the Blue Jackets' balloon.
- A solid night for Umberger, who played 19:27 overall with four shots on goal and a +1. That's the kind of game that can get the big fella going, and let's hope it does.
- Artem Anisimov, Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson each had five shots on goal in the game, which led the way for all players.
- Bobrovsky didn't have much work (13 shots) but he was strong in the first period and made saves along the way that enabled the Blue Jackets to keep rolling.
vs. San Jose Sharks
Monday, 7 p.m.