EDMONTON – It wasn’t so much winning that had the Edmonton Oilers pumped after their 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, it was winning in regulation time.
Andrew Cogliano scored the third-period winner and Dwayne Roloson made 36 stops as the Oilers won their second win in a row. Kyle Brodziak and Ales Hemsky also scored for the Oilers, who closed out their season-high six-game homestand with a 3-3 record.
The Oilers’ last three victories came via the shootout, as did six of their nine previous wins this season.
“It was a good feeling to get one in regulation,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. “We’re not doing anything the easy way. It would have been nice to win a couple games at the beginning of the homestand and gives ourselves a chance to put something together. But it was nice to recover and get to .500 during this stretch.”
Cogliano, a rookie who picked up his fifth goal of the season and 14th point, said getting a victory inside of 60 minutes was big for the team’s confidence.
“It was a solid team effort,” he said. “To get a regulation win and go on the road with two wins under our belt is big for our team. Overall I thought we played pretty well on the homestand. As of now we are pretty confident.”
Edmonton (10-13-1) sits just five points back of first-place Minnesota and two points behind fourth-place Calgary in the airtight Northwest Division.
Ron Hainsey had the lone reply for the Blue Jackets, who had a two-game winning streak snapped as they began a three-game road trip. Columbus (11-9-4) remained in a second place with Chicago in the Central Division.
Jackets forward Jason Chimera said his team should have been able to get back into the game when they were given a late 5-on-3 man advantage.
“We blew it on the power play at the end,” he said. “We had a great chance there at the end and didn’t take advantage of it. You work hard to get that 5-on-3 and then you have to make sure you get something out of it. We outplayed them for the most part but couldn’t get people in front of the net.”
The Oilers snuck one past Columbus starter Pascal Leclaire just 3:38 in. Brodziak’s wrist shot seemed to handcuff the goalie and dribbled off his glove and behind him into the net.
Columbus was given a glorious opportunity to tie the game up just past the 14-minute mark as Rick Nash was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway opportunity by Oilers defender Ladislav Smid. However, Nash’s attempt to pick the top corner sailed wide.
It didn’t take the Blue Jackets long to make up for the miss. They struck off the faceoff just six seconds later as Hainsey’s point shot beat Roloson low to the stick side to tie the game 1-1 after the first.
Columbus lost Leclaire for the remainder of the game six minutes into the second as he tweaked a hamstring muscle and was replaced by backup Fredrik Norrena.
“That was tough,” Nash said. “He’s the backbone of our team. Freddy came in and played well. Hopefully (Pascal) is all right.”
The Oilers looked to have beaten Norrena with five minutes remaining in the middle frame. Cogliano went in on a short-handed breakaway and his shot bounced behind the Columbus goaltender, only to be swatted away in the nick of time by Hainsey. Further review showed just how close to going in the puck was but the original call stood and the game remained tied after 40 minutes.
Cogliano would be given another chance to put Edmonton ahead midway through the third and this time he made no mistake, swatting a Robert Nilsson pass into the crease past Norrena to make it 2-1.
The Oilers got themselves into penalty trouble late in the game, allowing a two-man Columbus power play advantage but Edmonton killed both as Roloson stood his ground.
“That was big, especially with two of your best penalty killers (Jarret Stoll and Steve Staios) in the box,” Roloson said. “We did a great job there. It was huge.”
Hemsky scored an empty netter with 16 seconds left to put the game away.
Notes: The Oilers were without defenceman Dick Tarnstrom, who suffered a concussion in Saturday’s win over Chicago. Journeyman blue-liner Allan Rourke stepped in as a replacement. . . . Edmonton defenceman Mathieu Roy could be back with the team soon. The Oilers have sent him on a two-week conditioning stint to Springfield of the AHL as he recovers from a shoulder injury. . . . Another Oiler who it was at one time thought might be questionable to play at all this season, Fernando Pisani, could be back as early as next week. Pisani is well ahead of expectations and regaining his strength quickly after losing 30 pounds due to colitis. . . . Blue Jacket star forward Rick Nash’s point streak ended at six games.