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Oilers seek goals, road win against Blue Jackets

by Brian Hunter /

OILERS (8-10-2) at BLUE JACKETS (10-6-2)

Last 10 -- Edmonton 2-7-1; Columbus 5-3-2

Season series --
Second of four meetings this season. The Oilers received five-point performances from Dustin Penner (two goals, three assists) and Ales Hemsky (one goal, four assists) in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jackets on Oct. 22. Kristian Huselius scored twice for Columbus.

Big story -- Much has changed for Edmonton since these teams last met -- for one, the Oilers have found goals much harder to come by during the 2-8-1 stretch they carry into Monday's game. They've scored 22 times in those 11 games, but half of those goals came in the two victories over Detroit and Colorado. In the nine losses, they've scored 11 goals and been shut out three times.

Team scope:

Oilers -- Any notion that Edmonton might have figured things out with three power-play goals and a 5-3 win in Colorado to open a five-game road swing dissipated after losses followed in Ottawa, Buffalo and Atlanta. Now the Oilers will try to at least end the trip on a high note. They led the Thrashers 2-1 in the second Sunday afternoon on goals by Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner, but allowed a power-play goal in the final minute of the period and another goal in the third for a 3-2 loss.

''Their power-play goal gave them a quick turnaround,'' forward Andrew Cogliano said. ''We had chances to put it away. We were around the net.''

Blue Jackets -- The Central Division race is shaping up to be an excellent one, with Columbus currently sitting third behind Chicago and Detroit. The Blue Jackets were humbled by the Red Wings 9-1 at home on Wednesday, but showed their character by following up that clunker with a 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim on Friday. Rick Nash and Huselius rallied the Jackets from one-goal deficits before Nash notched the winner in highlight-reel fashion, skating in on one leg after nearly losing his balance and scoring.

"I'm sure he didn't know what to do," Nash said of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. "He thought I was going to fall. Luckily enough I put it in."

Who's hot --
Penner has goals in three of his last four games, while Nash has scored in six of his last seven games, amassing seven goals and nine points in that span.

Injury report -- Edmonton forward Fernando Pisani left the team and went home due to an ongoing battle with ulcerative colitis. The Oilers did get defenseman Sheldon Souray back from a concussion that had sidelined him since Oct. 8, and he played 25 minutes, 10 seconds against Atlanta.

Columbus forward Samuel Pahlsson missed the last game following surgery to remove a bursa sac from his elbow. Forward Raffi Torres was also out after taking a deflected shot to the face against Detroit and losing some teeth. Fredrik Modin has not started skating yet after suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament during the preseason.

Stat pack --
Mathieu Garon will get another start as Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock sticks with the hot hand over reigning Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason. Garon, who won 32 games in two seasons with Edmonton, is 3-1-0 this season with a 2.60 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

Puck drop --
Columbus got a reminder of what it must do to win hockey games in the past week.

"We competed really hard," Hitchcock said after the win over Anaheim. "It was a big time game. We worked a lot harder and the level of determination was 10 times better than it was against Detroit."

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