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Blue Jackets 1, Oilers 0 @NHLdotcom

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -Steve Mason and the Columbus Blue Jackets treated their game against the Edmonton Oilers as a must-win.

Mason made 19 saves for his eighth shutout and Raffi Torres scored against his former team, helping the Blue Jackets edge the Oilers 1-0 on Thursday night.

"It's the same situation for (the Oilers)," Mason said. "We're trying to create some breathing room and they're trying to get back into the playoffs. Every point that we can gather that Edmonton can't, it's going to benefit us."

The Blue Jackets (31-25-6) moved into a tie with Vancouver for fifth in the Western Conference, while the Oilers (30-26-5) remained in a four-way logjam for seventh with Dallas, Anaheim and Minnesota.

"This was like a playoff game," Columbus captain Rick Nash said. "This is a team that we have to beat if we want to make the playoffs. This was huge. We're on a road trip, we lost our last two and it was a great effort tonight by all 20 guys."

With the game scoreless through two periods, the Blue Jackets finally broke through 7:45 into the third period. Jared Boll hit Torres with a long pass and the former Oiler came in on the breakaway and slid the puck through Dwayne Roloson's legs.

"I was fortunate enough to get some room," Torres said. "Boll made a pretty good play to get it up to me. I had some speed going in on Roli and I was fortunate enough to get it past him."

Columbus outshot Edmonton 32-19 overall.

"That was a real disappointing loss, one of the toughest of the year so far," Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "At this point, with the situation we are in battling for a playoff spot with that team, it's just too bad we couldn't come up with a little bit better of an effort."

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said his team appeared to be physically outclassed at times.

"They forced the game to the walls and we didn't win many battles," he said. "They looked bigger and stronger than we were. When you get the game to the walls, you have to make plays through traffic and we didn't do that and that's why we lost.

"Today was a step backward for sure."

The Blue Jackets almost scored the first goal of the game early in the final period when Nash's shot clanged off the post and along the goal line before defenseman Tom Gilbert knocked it away.

"I don't know how that stayed out," Nash said. "I had my arms up and everything. I don't get it. It was hovering right along the line."

Mason and Roloson each made seven saves in an uneventful first period, but Columbus was the vastly better team in the second period as the Blue Jackets outshot the Oilers 17-5. Still, the best scoring opportunity may have belonged to the Oilers when Erik Cole swung around for a quick shot in tight during a scramble with five minutes to go, but Mason came across to make the pad save.

"We are here as a team and we win as a team and lose as a team," Roloson said. "Everybody feels the same way. It's a team sport. Individual performances are thrown aside. We have to focus on what we have to do. Unfortunately they were able to score one and I feel bad about that."

Notes: Oilers forward Fernando Pisani played for the first time since breaking an ankle on Nov. 17. Before the injury, he had two goals and four assists in 16 games. ... Oilers defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, originally thought to be out until late March with a sprained ankle, is back skating with the team and could return as early as Saturday. ... Columbus center Chris Gratton made his Blue Jackets debut after being claimed on waivers from Tampa Bay on Saturday. ... The Blue Jackets mixed up their lines against the Oilers with Jason Williams and rookie Jake Voracek skating on the top line with Rick Nash, and Kristian Huselius with Manny Malhotra and R.J. Umberger on the second line. ... Oilers forward Ales Hemsky played in his 400th NHL game.

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