COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was only a matter of time before Rick Nash broke out of a scoring slump. On Monday night, he made the Edmonton Oilers pay.
Nash scored three goals after an eight-game drought and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Monday night. "I've been struggling lately," Nash said. "Goals seem to come in bunches. They haven't been bouncing my way lately and tonight it was bouncing my way."
Jiri Novotny had a goal, and Nikolai Zherdev added two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have won three straight at home.
Edmonton's Ethan Moreau had his first goal in his second game back from a shoulder injury suffered in October of 2006. Steve Staios also scored for the Oilers, 0-4-2 in the past six games.
"Very disappointing tonight," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "I thought we played terrific hockey for the better part of the game. That same old play beat us in the end, the back-side empty-netter, really."
The score was tied at 2 when Moreau was called for tripping 4:58 left in the third. Nash, who hadn't scored a goal in eight games dating back to a two-goal performance on Dec. 5, was on the right side of the net when defenceman Duvie Westcott's shot dribbled his way. Nash went to his backhand and slid the puck past goalie Dwayne Roloson with 3:21 left for his 20th goal of the season.
Nash scored a short-handed goal in the second period to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead, and added an empty-netter with seven seconds left.
"I was looking for anything," Nash said. "I'm not picky right now. When you're not scoring, you can't be picky."
Pascal Leclaire had 26 saves for Columbus to improve to 13-7-3. Roloson had 29 saves in the loss.
Novotny crashed the net and pushed in a loose puck after Roloson made a save on Zherdev, who had fired from the left faceoff circle 8:15 into the game to give Columbus a 1-0 lead. It was Novotny's seventh goal of the season.
"Novotny was really good tonight," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He looked like a number one centre and this is now three or four games in a row that Jiri has been a good player for us."
The Oilers tied it 7:23 into the second when Moreau beat Pascal Leclaire with a rebound from just outside the crease. Moreau had missed 113 games since Oct. 21. 2006, before returning to get an assist against Minnesota on Saturday.
"I felt good. There were no limitations," Moreau said.
After Nash put Columbus back up with his first goal, Staios tied it with a shot from just inside the blue line that went under the right arm of Leclaire.
Notes: Nash also had the last Blue Jackets' hat trick, last April 7, at Detroit. ... It was the Blue Jackets' first hat trick at home since David Vyborny scored three against Atlanta on Nov. 7, 2003.