Ryan Jones recorded his first-career NHL hat trick, while Ladislav Smid and Ales Hemsky also tallied for the Oilers in the third period, propelling the home side to a hard-fought and well-earned 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night at Rexall Place.
13 seconds in, Columbus' Rick Nash was assessed a hooking minor, putting the Oilers' 21-percent power-play to work. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle helped choreograph the 1-0 marker eight seconds later when No. 93 slid a well-placed cross-box pass to the 20-year-old sophomore. Eberle corralled the dish for a moment, but quickly released a shot into the gaping cage to put the home side up.
As the period's 10-minute mark passed, the orange and blue struggled to make a pinpoint breakout pass, putting them on their heels and allowing the Blue Jackets to vault out to an 11-7 shot advantage.
As such, the home side had resigned to a dump-and-case style; reaching centre only when a line was out of gas and in need of a change. With 5:30 remaining, that caught up with them as Andy Sutton was charged with holding, putting the visitors' man-advantage to the test.
Limiting Columbus to a single shot, the 5-on-4 chance passed without incident; and that seemed to excite the Oilers. At 17:00, Darcy Hordichuk and Jared Boll dropped the mitts in a spirited 30-second bout. While the bulk of the tilt was even, Hordichuk landed a late punch square on Boll's nose to earn the decision.
No. 16 paraded, however, and picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for his actions. A bench minor to home side for too many men put the Blue Jackets on a 32-second 5-on-3. With 1:06 remaining in the period, Rick Nash dished to Mark Letestu at the near point, unleashing a wicked slapper and beating Devan Dubnyk bar-in to square the score on the Jackets' 16th shot.
With 20 minutes in the books and 27 seconds remaining in the Oilers' bench minor, the teams headed the dressing rooms locked in a 1-1 score. The visitors held a commanding 21-7 lead on the shot clock as well.
The Oilers outshot the Blue Jackets by a 5-3 margin in the period's early-going, but neither side was able to generate a scoring chance, much less a goal in the opening seven minutes.
That changed with 12:36 on the clock when Ryan Smyth and Jordan Eberle broke in on a 2-on-1. The veteran bumbled the puck for a moment, but slid a pass across where No. 14 connected; Curtis Sanford, however, said no as he made a dazzling glove side to preserve the 1-1 score.
The bad blood between Hordichuk and Boll continued to boil at 9:25 when the Columbus tough-guy cross-checked No. 16 behind the play to put the Oilers back on the power-play. Without registering a shot 51 seconds in, Tom Gilbert lost an edge in his own end, springing Derek Dorsett on a 30-foot breakaway; he made no mistake, depositing the puck behind a sprawling Dubnyk to put the Jackets up 2-1.
The Oilers killed a late-period holding minor to Ladislav Smid, keeping the game within reach as the buzzer sounded to end the stanza. With 40 minutes expired, Columbus extended to an even more dominant 31-19 lead in shots while leading by one on the scoreboard.
Just as the Oilers began the opening period, the home side came out with goal in the period's early-going. At 1:41, Ryan Jones curled behind the Jackets' net, pivoting at the crease's lip and sliding the puck through Sanford's wickets to make it a 2-2 game.
At 6:19, the Oilers took the lead. Ladislav Smid took a pass from Tom Gilbert at the point, stepping into a long-range bomb that eluded Sanford's gasp and denting the twine. As CBC's Hockey Night Canada pointed out when he scored in Colorado, No. 5 went 3000+ shifts in between goals. This time around, it took him only 114 to get back on the scoresheet; and with an emphatic statement, no less.
The Oilers propelled themselves to a two-goal advantage at 8:06. Eric Belanger passed to Ryan Jones in the slot, who snapped a bullet to beat the Jackets' netminder on the home team's 28th shot, bringing the sold-out Rexall Place crowd into a craze.
With 9:00 on the clock, Columbus made the game interesting once more. A point shot by Marc Methot was routinely stopped by Dubnyk, but the rebound popped into the slot, where Derek Dorsett pounced and snapped the puck into the wide-open net behind the sophomore 'tender.
The Oilers got that one back in a hurry, mind you. At 15:57, the captain rushed in and dished to an equally as driven Ales Hemsky; No. 83 took the pass at full speed, breaking in and deking around Sanford before sliding the puck along the ice and across the line, putting the home side up by a pair once again.
The Blue Jackets pulled Sanford for an extra-attacker with under a minute to play, but the Oilers were quick to capitalize. Ryan Jones tapped the puck into the empty net, securing his first-career NHL hat trick as the Oilers went up 6-3 with 37 seconds to play.
The remaining seconds elapsed without incident as the Oilers captured a well-earned 6-3 win, keeping the Columbus Blue Jackets winless on the road in regulation time this season.
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