GAME DAY: Oilers double up Blue Jackets 6-3 in matinee
OILERS 6 - BLUE JACKETS 3Ryan Jones had three points -- a goal and two assists -- while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Whitney had two assists apiece as the Edmonton Oilers cruised to a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Sunday afternoon.
AT THE MORNING SKATEColumbus, OH - The Edmonton Oilers look to complete a four-game road trip on Sunday afternoon without a regulation loss. Through the first three games, the team has put up a record of 2-0-1.
"The biggest thing for us is just having confidence in ourselves," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "We want to finish off the season strong and I think the past five or so games have been a good indication of that."
Overall, the Oilers have picked up points in six straight (4-0-2). It is a streak that started against tomorrow's opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Edmonton blanked Columbus 3-0 on Wednesday, March 14.
"Right now we are playing for pride and we want to end up the season strong to carry into next season," RNH continued.
Ryan Jones added that a big reason for the team's success is the overall strong play by everybody working in unison.
"We got a little bit separated at times this year. It's tough to play when there's not a whole lot of support on the ice," said Jones. "The game we're playing now, there's a lot of support everywhere. Especially down in Florida, we had to be because the ice was so bad. You just weren't going to get the 50, 60 foot passes."
Jones remarked that the team's ability to adapt to poor ice conditions and grind out a win and shootout loss was a great sign.
"We played a little bit of a chess match in both games and got three out of four points."
COPING WITH INJURIES
Another obstacle in the team's way on Friday night in Florida was captain Shawn Horcoff going down with a sore back. After the injury, Darcy Hordichuk didn't see another shift which resulted in the team essentially going with three lines.
"Sometimes you're sitting there, depending on what happens, you can sit there for awhile. When you lose a couple forwards you're going all the time. You know that there's only one shift between you and going back out there. You get on the bench, get a swig of water, catch a breath and you're ready to go," said Jones of playing with a short bench.
"But at the same time you're involved the entire game so it's nice."
Horcoff will not play on Sunday. Centre Chris VandeVelde was called up from Oklahoma City today to fill the void.
READY FOR JACKETS
The Oilers play the one team below them in the standings on Sunday afternoon. But Jones and Nugent-Hopkins both cautioned that they cannot be taken lightly.
"They're a great team. They have a lot of speed and work really hard," said Nugent-Hopkins. "They're a fast team. We need to make sure we match that and make sure we're really intense."
The Oilers have two wins and a loss against Columbus this season with the lone setback coming here at Nationwide Arena.
"We've played them a few times already this year so we know what they're capable of and they're definitely a good team. We can't take them lightly at all."
Jones agreed with his teammate that the Blue Jackets are tough to play against, particularly with six wins already in the month of March.
"They're a hard working team. They're trying to find themselves right now as well and they've won some big hockey games," said Jones.
"With our hockey squad, the skill that we have, if we can match the other team we're going to give ourselves a chance to win a hockey game."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com