The Oilers close out this road trip on Sunday at 5 p.m. MT in Winnipeg. The game can be seen on Sportsnet or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
COLUMBUS, OH – The Blue Jackets were experts at squashing any Oilers momentum on Friday night.
Almost immediately after Edmonton scored each of their goals, Columbus replied with one of their own almost immediately en route to a 6-3 victory, snapping the Oil’s three-game winning streak.
“Every time we got one, they followed it up,” said Taylor Hall, who scored in the defeat. “The shift after a goal is huge. The next few shifts after a goal, you want to make sure you sustain that momentum and keep going. Tough night in that regard.”
“The goals against were all at a really bad time,” added Leon Draisaitl, who also lit the lamp. “That’s unacceptable.”
No doubt feeling the effects of some weary legs after a highly-physical, emotional win in Philadelphia the night before, the Oilers had a sluggish start to the game, giving up two goals in the opening 2:44.
The Jackets opened the scoring just 1:54 after puck-drop, as Brandon Dubinsky zipped a perfect cross-crease pass to Cam Atkinson, who was camped out to the left of Oilers goalie Lauren Brossoit. Atkinson one-timed the pass before Brossoit could slide over, giving him 21 goals on the season.
Just 50 seconds later, on Columbus’ second shot of the game, David Savard got the puck at the top of the left-wing circle and fired a wrist shot just underneath the crossbar past Brossoit’s glove for his second of the season.
“I was concerned going in that our gas tanks would be a little bit empty and the energy level would be low, and I think that proved to be the case,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “It happened right off the bat on the first two goals. We didn’t give ourselves much of an opportunity to win as a tired team. Tired teams can still win in this League if they play smart, and we didn’t.”
In an attempt to inject some energy into the Oil, veteran Matt Hendricks dropped the gloves with Gregory Campbell for a spirited scrap in the neutral zone 1:32 after the second Columbus goal.
The Oilers did score in the opening frame, as Zack Kassian corralled a loose puck in the crease and whacked it into the awning cage. However, the whistle had already blown as the official had lost sight of the puck, allowing the home side to preserve its 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.
Despite the slow start and deficit on the scoreboard, Edmonton did lead shots 13-8 after the opening frame.
The Oilers got their offence going in the middle frame, as Draisaitl executed a deflection to perfection for his 17th of the season to make it a 2-1 game. Newly-acquired winger Patrick Maroon muscled his way to the puck in the corner, passed it back to Adam Pardy at the point, and Draisaitl redirected his shot past goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
However, just 10 seconds after Draisaitl’s goal, Scott Hartnell carried the puck into the Oilers zone, stopped in the right-wing circle and found a streaking Fedor Tyutin, who beat Brossoit for his first goal of the season to make it 3-1.
With Nail Yakupov in the penalty box for tripping, Boone Jenner scored with a deflection of his own, taking a precision slap-pass from Ryan Murray and picking up his 23rd goal of the season to make it 4-1 midway through the second.
The deflection trend continued, this time in the Oilers favour, with exactly one minute to go in the frame. With Edmonton on the PP, Connor McDavid dropped a pass back to Andrej Sekera at the point. The Slovakian shot on net and Hall tipped it past Korpisalo for his team-leading 22nd goal and 56th point.
Just like they did after the first Oilers goal, though, the Jackets bounced right back, as Scott Hartnell converted with just 17 seconds remaining in the period for his 21st goal and second point of the game to make it 5-2.
True to form, right after McDavid picked up his 13th goal of the season 3:22 into the third period, Savard scored his second of the game to keep Columbus up by three. McDavid corralled a loose puck and snuck a shot past Korpisalo for his 34th point in his 30th career game, but Savard sniped one home just 35 seconds later for his team’s sixth of the night.
After gems in his first two NHL starts, Brossoit finished his third-career game with just 22 saves as Edmonton outshot Columbus 35-28.
“I would have liked to have been sharper earlier,” the goalie said. “I would have liked to make some big saves to kill momentum and I didn’t do that. I’m going to learn from my mistakes.”
The Oilers would have liked to do more to help the young netminder as well.
“We had a fresh goalie in net, so we had to step up our game and make sure we took care of things, and we didn’t do that,” said defenceman Brandon Davidson. “He needs help from us. He’s the newest member. He’s got to find trust in us... We didn’t do a great job providing that for him tonight. We weren’t able to help him as good as we should have.”
The Oilers will now get a complete off-day in Winnipeg on Saturday as they prepare to close out their four-game road trip against the Jets on Sunday at 5pm MT.