OILERS (13-13-7) 6, BLUE JACKETS (13-14-7) 4
REXALL PLACE | EDMONTON, AB
What is it with wild games between the Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place?
These two teams have had some memorable games over the years and tonight's won't be forgotten for all the wrong reasons. Needing two points and a bounce-back win after back-to-back losses to open this road trip, the Blue Jackets scored the first two goals of the game, led on three different occasions but came out on the losing end of a 6-4 decision tonight.
Cam Atkinson tied a Blue Jackets franchise record with a goal just 10 seconds into the first period, Matt Calvert followed minutes later, and Columbus looked to be in good shape with the Artem Anisimov-anchored line scoring almost at-will.
The Oilers pushed back - as one would expect with this being an equally crucial game for the home team - but whenever they threatened, tied the game or garnered some momentum, the Blue Jackets had a swift response. Atkinson broke a 3-3 tie early in the third period for his second tally of the game after Anisimov had snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period, ensuring that Columbus was always in the thick of a high-paced game.
Edmonton held just one lead all game long, and it came seconds after Atkinson nearly recorded his second career hat trick and put the Blue Jackets ahead late in the third period.
Devan Dubnyk, who replaced Nikolai Khabibulin after Atkinson's second goal, made a sprawling left pad stop on Atkinson off a pass from Anisimov - and right back the other way went Ales Hemsky. Hemsky dangled around a pair of Blue Jackets, cut to the front of the net and slipped a backhander under Sergei Bobrovsky with 3:08 to play.
The Blue Jackets had a couple of opportunities to draw even with Bobrovsky on the bench for an extra attacker, but Sam Gagner put it away with a late empty-netter.
It would be easy to point to a controversial disallowed goal that Calvert appeeared to score in the second period, but the game changed when Edmonton tied the game late in the second period. Anisimov's go-ahead goal could have secured some momentum (especially after the lead goal), but a defensive breakdown from the Blue Jackets led to a huge goal from Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. Ryan Jones passed to Nail Yakupov, who looked off a shot and fed it to a wide-open Horcoff in the slot for a tap-in with 54.7 seconds remaining in the second period.
- Can't say enough about the Calvert-Anisimov-Atkinson line tonight. They combined for four goals, four assists, a +2 rating and were all around the puck tonight. If there's a positive or three to take out of a disappointing loss, it would be this red-hot unit.
- The Blue Jackets had four players (Letestu, Anisimov, Johansen, MacKenzie) win at least 50 percent of their face-offs tonight, and it contributed to them having a decent amount of puck possession against an Oilers club that thrives on just that.
- James Wisniewski played 19:57 tonight in his first game back in the lineup. Wisniewski missed 14 games with a broken foot and had a decent return, getting some power play time and helping the Jackets cleanly exit their own end.
- Atkinson's three-point night was the first of his NHL career.
at Calgary Flames
Friday, 9 p.m.
Scotiabank Saddledome | Calgary, AB