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Oilers beat Jets to end six-game skid

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers went into the Christmas break without a seven-game losing skid hanging over their heads.

Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, David Perron, Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov scored for the Oilers, who cruised to a 6-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place on Monday night.

The victory snapped a six-game skid and sent the Oilers (12-24-3) into the three-day break in festive spirits.

"Don't think our families weren't sitting at home or wherever these guys are flying saying, 'Please win the game, we want our family member who is coming home to be in a good mood,' " Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I know my wife was looking forward to us winning the game so we could have a good three days together and me not off in La-La Land, solely focused on the next game.

"It's large even during the season when you're not going to play for a couple of days, you don't want to be sitting around with a loss. It's terrible, you're just miserable."

Ilya Bryzgalov made 18 saves to earn his second win of the season for the Oilers, who scored as many goals Monday as they had during their losing skid combined.

"Overall it was a way better game than we had against St. Louis," Hall said, referring to a 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. "We had a way better start and we seem to carry that over into the rest of the game.

"That's been our kryptonite. It seems to be when we get a good start and they get a goal or they tie it up, we kind of get off the rails. But that wasn't the case [Monday], we just kept it going."

Mark Stuart and Andrew Ladd scored for the Jets, who have lost two straight and three of their past four. Ondrej Pavelec made 24 saves in the loss.

"We didn't play very intelligent, we didn't play the right way," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We knew this game could get out of hand if we played the way we played. We got pretty much what we deserved playing that way.

"We knew that we had to check and defend to have success in this game and we didn't do a good job of that. We knew 20 minutes in that this was not going to go our way unless we changed the way we played."

Eberle opened the scoring in the first period on the power play at 8:40, taking a cross-ice feed from Ales Hemsky at the side of the net for an easy tap-in.

Hemsky had a strong start to the game and was the offensive catalyst for the Oilers.

"I thought he was excellent early, it may be one of the best games that we've seen him play early on, then he got banged up a little bit later," Eakins said. "He was shooting the puck. He's way more dangerous on the power play on the right side of the ice. He was skating and when he's skating and he's feeling good, he's a dangerous character out there."

Stuart tied the game at 11:20 beating Bryzgalov through the pads with a shot from the faceoff circle.

Gagner gave the Oilers the lead at 16:07 finishing off a play in front after the Oilers cycled the puck in the corner.

Ladd pulled the Jets even again at 9:08 of the second period, tipping a Dustin Byfuglien shot past Bryzgalov.

"It's the same old crap game after game," Ladd said. "Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it. We know what it is, we talk about it all the time. We do the same things over and over. A team like the Oilers, you know they have a lot of offensive guys that can hurt you and you don't want to put them on the power play and you don't want to turn the puck over and give them chances on the rush. We did both of those things and that's the score."

Perron restored the Oilers lead at 16:40 taking a pass from Hall in front and beating Pavelec. It was the first time this season Perron and Hall played on a line together. The two combined for five points on the night.

"It's funny in the first period, we didn't have a goal or anything, but I thought we were really close four or five times," Perron said. "And when I mean really close, we were only a stick away or a couple of feet away and I know that you have a really good chance at the net.

"When we get into a situation with just the goalie and no defense, I like our chances and we were able to get a big goal there, the third goal."

Petry extended the lead at 4:28 of the third, jumping into the rush and depositing a feed from Yakupov.

Hall made it 5-2 on the power play at 8:34 benefiting after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins intercepted a Jakub Trouba clearing attempt in front. Nugent-Hopkins found Hall for the easy one-timer past Pavelec.

Yakupov rounded out the scoring at 16:16, stripping Byfuglien of the puck at the Jets' blue line and finishing off a 2-on-1 rush after taking a pass from Hall.

"The puck was following [Hall] around early, but it kept feeling like nothing was finishing off for him, nothing was developing," Eakins said. "The great thing about Taylor, and a number of our guys, is that they stuck with it and finally was rewarded for all the work he was doing.

"Taylor came out hard in the game and that's what we needed. We needed another good start and more importantly, we were able to sustain it."

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