EDMONTON – Head coach Tom Renney called out his Edmonton Oilers after a disappointing loss earlier this week, and it appears the team got the message.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist Wednesday as the Oilers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the battle of the NHL basement on Wednesday.
Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves to record his second shutout of the season and Taylor Hall and Linus Omark also scored for the Oilers (27-36-7), who won for just the second time in their last eight games.
“It was a lot better. I thought the guys responded really well,” said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. “We got challenged and we wanted to respond to it. We wanted to come out with a really solid effort and was really proud to see the way the guys did.”
Renney agreed that what he saw against Columbus was far better than what the Oilers displayed during a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Monday.
“They paid attention for 60 minutes,” he said. “They wanted to do well and take responsibility and that’s good.
“Collectively we were better defensively.”
Renney didn’t mince words Monday after the Oilers lost their fifth straight home game.
“It doesn’t take many for the wrong approach, the wrong attitude … to kind of make its way through your dressing room,” Renney said after the loss to the Sharks. “It doesn’t take many guys at all.
“We have a few people who have to look in the mirror here because this is unacceptable. You’re the Edmonton Oilers, you’re a millionaire, you have an opportunity to play the game . . . Suck it up and play hockey.”
Edmonton sits in second-last in the NHL, 10 points ahead of the last-place Blue Jackets (22-41-7), the only team thus far to be eliminated from playoff contention. Columbus lost its third game in a row.
“We had a lot of passengers tonight,” said Blue Jackets assistant captain James Wisniewski. “Nobody was really going. We had our chances to score. All year we have had a hard time scoring goals. Things really haven’t changed in that department. We had opportunities and just didn’t capitalize on them.”
Edmonton had a good opportunity to score in the opening minute with a puck laying in the crease for what seemed an eternity behind starter Curtis Sanford before it was swept away by Columbus captain Rick Nash with Oiler Jordan Eberle in hot pursuit to whack it in.
The Oilers had the bulk of the chances in the scoreless first period with 12 shots while Columbus only managed three on Dubnyk.
Edmonton finally broke the deadlock eight minutes in to the second period as Nugent-Hopkins came away with a loose puck off the boards and beat Sanford with a quick wrist shot. It was the 16th goal of the season for the 2011 first overall draft choice.
Columbus was awarded a four-minute power play on a Hall high-sticking call soon afterwards but couldn’t do much with it. The best opportunity belonged to Edmonton on a short-handed breakaway attempt by Eric Belanger.
The Oilers made it a 2-0 game on a late second-period power play of their own as Hall picked up the rebound of a Nugent-Hopkins shot and slipped it under Sanford with only five seconds to play. It was Hall’s fourth consecutive game with a goal and 27th on the season.
Dubnyk kept the Blue Jackets from getting anywhere near the scoreboard and the Oilers put the game away with 90 seconds left on an empty-netter by Omark.
“It wasn’t 40 shots or anything like that but any time you keep them all out you have to give the guys a pat and one for yourself,” Dubnyk said. “It feels good. It was such a good effort right from the drop of the puck for us. That’s what we were so disappointed about in the last game.”
The Oilers play the third game of a four-game homestand against Calgary on Friday. The Blue Jackets play the second game of a three-game trip in Vancouver on Saturday.
Notes: It was the third of four games between the two teams this season. Each team had won its previous home game…Columbus G Steve Mason (lacerated pinkie) has been practising but was still not ready to play in Edmonton. Allen York served as backup to Sanford…Jackets F Derek Dorsett did not travel with the team because of illness but could rejoin the team later on the trip…Columbus was also missing Derek MacKenzie (concussion) and Fedor Tyutin (broken right hand), who went down with injuries last week…Out for the Oilers was F Ben Eager, sidelined with a bad back. The team called up Teemu Hartikainen from the AHL and he made the trip in time to make the pre-game skate. Edmonton then opted to dress bruiser Darcy Hordichuk instead…Columbus has now gone without a goal in its last 28 power play opportunities…The first overall draft pick from 2010, Hall has already bested his rookie season output by 11 points in five fewer games.