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Under the Scope: Oilers at Blue Jackets

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Unlike the previous two games in which the Oilers created a number of first period chances but were unable to convert, the results were there tonight in the game's opening 20 minutes. Goals by Magnus Paajarvi and Dustin Penner vaulted the Oilers to an early 2-0 advantage, but over the course of the night, that lead eventually dusted its way into the record books as another loss on the calendar.

After Columbus would claw back into the game and eventually even the score prior to the end of the second period, Paajarvi struck again -- once more with the assistance of teammate Linus Omark -- early in the final frame to put the Oilers back on top 3-2.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, this would be the last of the offensive output. The Blue Jackets would again fight back, this time tying the game and scoring once more with 4:00 remaining to seal victory. For Edmonton, the game featured a theme of missed chances. Squandered power-play opportunities, including a full two-minute five-on-three killed the Oilers' chance of out-scoring the home side on this night.

After Devan Dubnyk got the start last night, Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the pipes where we made 29 saves on the 34 shots he faced.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

With the Oilers leading 2-1 and looking to extend the lead against a hungry Blue Jackets team, the home side was charged with two separate penalties on the same sequence at 3:18 of the second. With Rick Nash and Derick Brassard in the box, the Oilers were given a full two-minute five-on-three man advantage. The Oilers primarily moved the puck around the perimeter, generating little in the way of quality scoring chances. The penalties eventually expired, and the Blue Jackets would use the acquired momentum to complete the comeback and eventually win the game late in the third.

39 The Oilers only won 39% of the draws tonight. Leading the way for the visitors was captain Shawn Horcoff, who finished with a 9-7, 56% outing in the dot.
0 While some would argue that it could potentially be an erroneous fact, the Oilers committed zero giveaways tonight. As you would expect, this is a season-first.
27 After playing only 25 seconds against the St. Louis Blues Friday, Steve MacIntyre played again tonight. Unfortunately for him, his ice-time total was only increased to 27 seconds.
4 Tonight the Oilers had four power-play opportunities. In what could likely be considered the main reason for the loss, Edmonton was unable to score on any of them.

RJ Umberger
G A P +/- Shots
2 2 4 +4 4

Kristian Huselius
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +3 3

Kris Russell
G A P +/- Shots
0 2 2 +2 2

Steve Mason
26 23 3 60:00 .885

Nikolai Khabibulin
34 29 4 58:33 .853

Fedor Tyutin - D

  25:38 - 1A, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

26:29 - 0P, +2 rating

In a unique circumstance, the play happened twice in the same game. Linus Omark assisted on both goals by Magnus Paajarvi; both of which were eerily identical. Omark used his strong stance and body position to fight off a defender, before spinning on his forehand to complete a pass to Paajarvi at the back door. The pass(es) were incredible, but so too was the mind of Paajarvi to make himself available. Unbeknownst to Steve Mason and the Jackets defenders, Paajarvi established position behind the net before sneaking in front to collect the pass. The surprise attack worked successfully. Twice.

Linus Omark's two-assist performance was notable, but Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger ultimately took control of the game when his team needed a spark. Umberger helped get things started by scoring the Jackets' first goal of the night, where he then followed it up with an additional three points to cap an impressive four-point evening. Having played an integral role in each of Columbus' goals in a 4-3 victory, Umberger was clearly the MVP of a contest that required an offensive hero.

Magnus Paajarvi was the man who scored twice for the Oilers. While Linus Omark is rightfully credited with such an amazing pair of passes, someone needed to finish. After setting up shot behind the net, Paajarvi provided himself with the time and space necessary to find a soft spot behind the Blue Jackets defence. As a result, he scored his eighth and ninth of the season to help the Oilers have a chance tonight. After going through a bit of an early-season lull, Paajarvi appears to be hitting his stride.

Late in the second period when the game was tied 2-2, an unsuspecting physical presence emerged on the blueline. Tom Gilbert stepped up on Jackets forward Andrew Murray to deliver a hip-check that sent him tumbling to the ice. While the two teams combined to dish out a number of hits, none were able to match the magnitude of Gilbert's play. In total, the two teams combined to dish out 36 -- Columbus decisively won the battle with a 29-17 advantage.

In total, the Oilers were able to record 26 shots on goal tonight. However, an additional 26 were attempted. 12 were blocked, while 14 missed the target. The Blue Jackets, however, recorded 34 shots on goal with only an additional 20 being attempted.

"We were a little bit sloppy. Didn't like that at all. The power-play killed us, no question about that. But we were still in a hockey game and then we handed it back in the third period with some bad decisions."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the loss to Columbus

Monday, February 7 vs. Nashville
  6:00pm MT (SNET-EDM / 630 CHED)

The Oilers now travel to Nashville to complete the three-game road trip in hopes of salvaging a victory. Game-time is 6pm MST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet One (Sportsnet Oilers).

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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