The Oilers dominated the Blue Jackets 7-2 to close out their road trip
COLUMBUS, OH - That's one way to relieve the frustration of getting shut out the game before.
Two days after the Oilers were all over the Toronto Maple Leafs but got stymied by goaltender Curtis McElhinney in a 1-0 defeat, they had no trouble converting in their road trip finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets and cruised to a decisive 7-2 victory.
Edmonton got at least one point from 12 different players, including a goal and three assists from Connor McDavid to lead the way, finishing the three-game voyage with a 2-1-0 record and outscoring their opponents by an impressive 13-5 margin.
"Three solid games in a row now, we can definitely feel good about that," said McDavid, who leads the Oilers with 39 points and jumped all the way up to third in League scoring. "We're just playing a solid game, consistent up and down the lineup. We were able to roll four lines and the special teams got a little bit going, the power play especially. Penalty kill was pretty good as well."
"It's coming together a little bit more offensively," added Head Coach Todd McLellan. "The power play woke up on this trip… our lines seem to be clicking a little bit more. Maybe it's our time right now. You go through dry spells and sometimes you score a lot. Right now we're finding the net."
Following Tuesday's morning skate, there was some chatter in the Oilers locker room about combatting a Blue Jackets squad notorious for fast starts on home ice.
The best defence turned out to be an effective offence as it was Edmonton that jumped out to an early lead thanks to Zack Kassian's third goal of the season at the 5:55 mark. The Oilers were able to keep the puck in at the Columbus blueline, followed by Anton Slepyshev making a nice pass to a streaking Mark Letestu, who found Kassian on the doorstep for the no-doubt one-timer.
The Oilers locked it down on defence after netting the early goal, holding the Blue Jackets to eight shots in the opening 20 minutes and taking a 1-0 advantage into the intermission.
It was more of the same for the visitors in the middle frame as they continued to play strong defence while also picking their spots to push the pace on offence before a late-period scoring onslaught.
After Darnell Nurse drew a hook from David Savard, the Oilers took to the power play looking to enjoy some of the same success that saw them net two via the man advantage Saturday night in Montreal.
The top PP unit wasn't able to get one past Sergei Bobrovsky but the second crew got the job done as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ripped home his team-leading 12th goal of the season. Michael Cammalleri made the tally happen with a precision cross-ice feed that left Nugent-Hopkins with an empty cage to shoot at, and the centreman scorched his wrister just under the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.
In addition to taking temporary sole possession of Edmonton's goal-scoring lead, Nugent-Hopkins continued his career dominance of the Blue Jackets with his third goal and 16th point in 13 games since entering the League in 2011.
The Oilers extended their advantage to 3-0 thanks to a little offence from their defence with Matt Benning scoring his fourth of the season. After McDavid had the puck knocked off his stick, Benning corralled it in the high slot and snuck a hard wrist shot through Bobrovsky's five-hole.
McDavid added another helper two and a half minutes later as he and Milan Lucic burst in on a two-on-one rush thanks to a stretch pass from Leon Draisaitl. The captain flipped a perfect pass over to Lucic for yet another no-doubter into the empty cage for the big left-winger's seventh of the season. It was also Edmonton's second PPG of the night.
After two PPGs and two at even strength, the Oilers completed the trifecta and continued their late second period goal flurry as Letestu beat the buzzer with a shorthanded breakaway tally with just 0.3 seconds on the clock. It was Letestu's team-leading second SHG of the season, both of which have come on breakaways.
The Blue Jackets replaced Bobrovsky with Joonas Korpisalo to start the third period and the switch seemed to have the desired effect, spurring on the home side. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Jack Johnson lit the lamp for Columbus in the final frame, but they ultimately succumbed to the 7-2 decision.
Jesse Puljujärvi added an insurance marker for the Oilers late in the third period, scoring on his own rebound after an impressive battle in front of the net. It was the young Finn's fifth goal in 14 games this season.
Puljujärvi then set up McDavid on a two-on-one rush in the waning minutes to complete the offensive explosion. The captain moved back even with Nugent-Hopkins with 12 goals while his budding winger recorded the third multi-point game of his young career.
The Oilers are back on Rogers Place ice on Thursday as they host the Nashville Predators before hopping back on their plane for a matinee matchup with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.