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Oilers, Blue Jackets meet seeking offense

by Corey Masisak

OILERS (4-4-3) at BLUE JACKETS (3-6-2)

TV: SNET-West, FS-Ohio

Last 10: Edmonton 3-4-3; Columbus 2-6-2

Season series:
This is the first meeting. The Edmonton Oilers won three of four last season, outscoring the Columbus Blue Jackets 17-10.

Big story: These teams, which finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last season, have struggled of late and are looking to snap out of a slump.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton's hot start has dissipated as the injuries have mounted and the offense has dried up. The Oilers got top center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings but couldn't provide enough offense in a 2-1 loss. They have scored 10 goals in the past six games and have lost five straight (0-2-3).

Rookies Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz have combined for nine goals, though Yakupov was demoted to the fourth line at the start of the game against the Red Wings. Schultz leads all rookies with four power-play goals.

"We're in the pack and in the games with an opportunity to win, we just need to get a healthy lineup together," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said. "We want to get back deep into our lineup again and to the four lines we were rolling earlier in the season."

Blue Jackets: Columbus' season started strong with a win at the Nashville Predators and an overtime loss to Detroit, but the Blue Jackets, like the Oilers, have struggled to score. They have 17 goals in the past nine games, and more than two twice.

Ryan Johansen was demoted to the American Hockey League with no goals and two assists in 10 games, but he wasn't alone. R.J. Umberger doesn't have a goal in 11 games, Nick Foligno has one, and top center Derick Brassard has two.

''We have to figure it out,'' coach Todd Richards said after Columbus' third loss in the first four of a six-game homestand. ''For 20 minutes it's good and then we lose our game. And when it's gone, it's gone. It's not one shift or two shifts; it's for an extended period of time.''

Who's hot: Oilers forward Sam Gagner had his NHL-leading 10-game point streak broken Saturday; he leads the team with 11 points (three goals). … Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu has two goals and four points in the past three games.

Injury report: Edmonton will be without forwards Ryan Jones (eye), Shawn Horcoff (hand) and Anton Lander (foot). Center Eric Belanger (toe) could be make his return. Defenseman Mark Fistric (back) is questionable. .. Columbus will be short defensemen Adrian Aucoin (lower body) and James Wisniewski (concussion) and forward Cam Atkinson (lower body). Defenseman John Moore (lower body) is questionable.

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