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Oilers try to snap slump against Jackets

by John Kreiser /

BLUE JACKETS (7-15-3) at OILERS (12-10-3)


LAST 10: Columbus 5-3-2; Edmonton 3-6-1

Season Series:
The teams are meeting for the first time this season; the other three games don't come until after the new year. Both teams won twice last season,

Big Story: The Jackets are slowly climbing out of the hole they dug themselves thanks to the worst start in franchise captain and will try to win consecutive road games for the first time. The Oilers, October's darlings after their terrific start, are coming back to earth and blew a 2-0 lead in their last game, a 3-2 shootout loss at home to Minnesota.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets:
Columbus is still 7-15-3 and last in the West, but the Jackets are 4-2-2 in their last eight and come to Rexall Place off an exhilarating 4-3 shootout win at Calgary on Thursday, a game in which they scored twice in the final 5:05 to force OT before winning the tiebreaker.

"It's a huge step for us," said captain Rick Nash, who scored the tying goal in the final minute and then beat Miikka Kiprusoff to win the shootout. "It was a huge comeback, but (Friday) we have to be much better. ... Hopefully we can bring the last five minutes of momentum into (Friday) night's game."

Oilers: November was a tough month for the Oilers after a terrific October. But even with Wednesday's disappointing loss to the Wild, their third straight defeat, Edmonton is still ahead of its 9-12-4 pace after 25 games last season.

"I think there's a responsibility to winning, and that means you've got to keep doing it," coach Tom Renney said. "Maintaining a certain standard of play and looking for a certain outcome no matter what. ... We're learning how to deal with that still, but we can't be afraid of it."

Who's Hot: Nash has three goals in his last four games. … Edmonton rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to amaze -- he had a goal and an assist against the Wild and leads all first-year players with 11 goals and 27 points. Linemate Jordan Eberle has six goals and 15 points in his last nine games.

Injury Report: Columbus is still without defenseman Radek Martinek (concussion) and forward Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral muscle), though Huselius is almost ready to return. … Edmonton is without Taylor Hall (shoulder), Ben Eager (back) and Corey Potter (ankle).

Stat Pack: Columbus is still 2-8-2 away from home and has not won in regulation away from Nationwide Arena. … The Oilers have scored two goals or fewer in six of their last 11 games.

Puck Drop: While Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Hall (before his injury) were putting up big numbers, the Oilers have been missing secondary scoring. Sam Gagner, Eric Belanger and Magnus Paajarvi have a combined 73 shots this season without scoring a goal.

"There was a stretch there where I wasn't playing my best hockey, and I knew that," Gagner told the Oilers' website on Thursday. "I wanted to get back to the way I knew I could play. I'm moving my feet more, I have the puck on my stick more and I'm making plays. I have to be happy with that.

"There has to be a level of urgency to produce."

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